Boomkat Product Review:
A sequel of sorts to his Dataplex album, Ryoji Ikeda's 'Test Pattern' is based around a cross-platform conversion system that takes any format of data (whether auditory, textual or pictorial) as a source to be transformed into barcode patterns. This product is then re-constituted as audio data, ready to be sculpted into composed structures by Ikeda. Consequently, the sound artist is able to standardise all media and all types of information, reconfiguring everything within the parameters of that familiar language of his: high frequency tones and digital noise. Where Carsten Nicolai might also be seen to occupy this sort of sonic terrain, it becomes clear that Ikeda isn't nearly so preoccupied with the regularities of rhythm and other such more evidently musical tools. Instead, Test Pattern feels like a stream of data in flux, often manifesting itself in a quite alarmingly complex fashion. Apparently, due to this music's extreme rate of change it can't be properly represented by being encoded to lower bitrate formats like MP3 (sounds like a challenge to me), and sure enough there are times when this music sounds like some irregular morse code message played out at extreme velocities, though in truth that doesn't begin to do justice to the blistering, awesome extremities of Test Pattern, an album that shifts between stuttering, phased micro-pulsations and blasts of pure digital noise. It sounds less like the product of manmade composition and more in keeping with the chaos of lost connections and telecommunications interference. Having spent some time with 'Test Pattern' you start to understand that title: Ikeda seems to be challenging you to keep up with his music, to be able to take in such severe sound matter without the safety nets of harmony and rhythm. Arduous as it can often seem (particularly with some of those strobing high frequencies), any serious follower of experimental electronic music won't want to miss out on the experience, particularly when the bass tones come into play and the fractured tones, momentarily, start to build into robust, f*cked up rhythms. Awesome stuff.