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Soundohm

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A most welcome return for one of the most intriguing creative partnerships in contemporary experimental music, UTP_ reunites Carsten Nicolai with Ryuichi Sakamoto for a special audio-visual performance in conjunction with Ensemble Modern, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the city of Mannheim. The title is derived from the notion of 'utopia', referencing the town's design background - Mannheim was conceptualised as the ideal 17th century city. The music devised by Noto and Sakamoto for their audio-visual tribute deviates considerably from the formulae set out by their prior releases Vrioon, Insen and Revep, embracing not only the electronic and piano-based palettes of old, but also an expanded array of avant-garde chamber instrumentation and a host of natural timbres. The album that lies ahead is a restless and multilayered stream of ideas and beautifully realised composition. The two 'Broken Line' pieces find this project on its most instantly familiar ground, propelling ethereal glitching rhythms across ambient plains of elaborately fashioned electroacoustic static, but the 'Particle' tracks reveal a very new and arguably more far-reachingly exploratory side to this duo, all-but abandoning melody and rhythm in favour of outright texture. Recalling Carsten Nicolai's Xerrox project, 'Plateaux 1' and 'Plateaux 2 End' take on a symphonic droning quality. If there's more to come from this duo (and here's hoping there is) this unprecedentedly grand sounding approach might make for an interesting new direction to pursue. For this album though, the interweaving of all the various styles on show lends itself to a more rounded - if somewhat fractured - listening experience than the two artists have previously delivered in their collaboration, and UTP_ is anything but a rehash of old ideas. Established fans of the duo's output will find rich rewards in this CD and DVD edition: as well as the full audio of the performance, you're treated to a concert film that captures both the musicians themselves and a digital visual score for the piece. A revealing behind-the-scenes film is included too, presenting rehearsal footage alongside various other stages of the creative process. If all that wasn't enough, two booklets are thrown into the bargain, one of which features a David Toop essay plus various still images from the visual score, while the second features the complete musical notation for the composition itself. All this gives a unique insight into Nicolai and Sakamoto's working methodologies, and the sheer meticulousness the two artists evidently bring to their music only reinforces our appreciation of their combined discipline and creative vision. An gorgeously presented, utterly luxurious package that just happens to also include 70 minutes of the most sublime music you'll have the pleasure of hearing this year. Immense. (Boomkat)
Details
Cat. number: r-n 96
Year: 2009
Notes:
a production of the city of mannheim (büro 2007) with regard to the 400th anniversary of the city nationaltheater, mannheim, germany 16th november 2007 The dvd contains the utp_ concert movie and a utp_ 'try-out' to document both the developing process of the piece and the final result. Comes in a 125 x 180 mm perforated folded card stock sleeve, with a 16-page booklet and a 28-page score. The DVD contains both 5.1 ch surround sound and 2.0 ch stereo sound. Masterering: Calyx Mastering, Berlin © 2008 raster-noton.archiv für ton und nichtton Barcode: 4 260115 990962