Boomkat Product Review:
Bumper collection of site-specific kankyō ongaku soundscapes that were intended by Yutaka Hirose to be played in cafes, bars, museums and science labs. More abstract than Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green" or Midori Takada’s "Through The Looking Glass", Hirose's compositions channel ambient sounds thru bizarre, almost illbient routines, lending them a harsher, more industrial timbre.
Yukata Hirose wasn't motivated by the idea of creating pre-recorded compositions for use in environmental settings. Instead opting find a way to create "sound scenery" by arranging speakers and sound sources so that the music would change and merge as the listener traversed the space. He was motivated by the idea of the tea ceremony, where focus was needed to adjust the senses to enjoy the experience.
The material still holds up, even three decades later. The album is split into two parts: the first half is a set of liquid ambient soundscapes that sound closer to Hiroshi Yoshimura, all droplet electronics and breathy drones, while the second half is more challenging, experimenting with noise and what Hirose describes as "hardcore ambient" sounds. The lighter material was intended to be played at cafes and bars and in entranceways, while the more complex sounds were geared towards museums and science centers.
It's interesting listening to the music with the purpose in mind. The first half is relatively familiar and harmonises well with the contemporary reading of kankyō ongaku, but the second set drives the sounds into areas that sound more cyberpunk. Hirose's sound design is ahead of its time, and his use of field recordings, disorienting processes and spine-tingling percussion makes the music particularly prescient. 'The Breath of Cyberspace' is particularly essential, a pitch-wonked k-hole of unlatched electronic percussion and FM grit that sounds as if it belongs on a short-run Italian industrial cassette.