|˟˟| (pronounced 'gate') is a Dutch-Japanese free music / noise project based in Tokyo, Japan. The project was started by Lajos in June 2009 as an experiment in solo improvisation on multiple instruments simultaneously, some of which were built (or adapted) especially for this project. In November 2009, Taka joined the project.
'Iterations' is the first release by |˟˟| as a duo.Here is what they say about their new album:
"Freedom is an illusion. Spinoza pointed out that those who think that they are acting freely are usually just ‘carried away by impulse’. In practice, ‘freedom’ often means nothing but ignorance of the causes of one’s actions and desires, and ‘free choice’ is the unrestrained surrender to unconscious impulse. ‘Free improvisation’ is only ‘free’ in that rather limited sense. Music flows, and as soon as an improvising musician steps into the current, there is no (or little) time to consciously decide upon the next note or sound; rather, the musician allows him/herself to be ‘carried away by impulse’.
There is, however, a choice to start or end, or to step in or out of a current, to try to bend it into different directions, or to disrupt it. And by exploring one’s motivations and influences (the aforementioned causes of one’s actions and desires) and becoming aware of those, such choices can (to some extent) escape the grasp of unconscious impulse and be free. The ‘freedom’ of ‘free music’ (rather than just ‘free improvisation’) then, does not lie in the lack of written scores or predetermined musical constructions, but in the consciousness born from (self-) exploration, and the choice of currents and directions based thereupon. ‘Free music’ is the conscious manipulation of uncovered impulse.
‘Free music’ is the means of expression, but not the purpose, of the project |˟˟| (‘gate’). Our music is the result of an exploration of and response to our influences and motivations. Some of these are musical (or aural at least) -- jazz, noise (urban, natural, musical), drone doom, Japanese traditional music, and various other sounds and genres are all reflected in our music -- but perhaps even more important is the exploration of non-musical influences – life in modern society, discomfort and alienation, and the limits of freedom itself.
Human freedom is as illusory as the freedom of the improvising musician, but while ‘free music’ offers an opportunity to escape the grasp of impulse through exploration and conscious manipulation of impulse, the exploration of the causes of one’s actions and desires and the attempt to freely choose direction based on that exploration can only lead to the realization that there is little similar opportunity for freedom in human existence. Human freedom is an illusion, and paradoxically, the discomfort born from that realization is what we (‘freely’) choose to express in our (‘free’) music."
Whisperinandhollerin / Martin Raybould RATING: 8/10
If you are searching for an easy listening experience, look away now.
Gate is based in Tokyo and started out as a solo vehicle of Lajos Ishibashi-Brons (Lajos). He conceived the project as an experiment in improvisation on multiple instruments, many of which he built himself.
These are often played simultaneously and distorted using loops or delay pedals.
The home made instruments include a sousen, an electric four string instrument used to create drones, and an electric morin khuur, an adaptation of a Mongolian stringed instrument played with a bow. Lajos also plays electric and bass guitar.
After three solo excursions, he has now teamed up with a Dutchman with the very Japanese sounding name of Takahito Hayashi (Taka). The result is Iterations; Gate's fourth release but the first as a duo.
Taka plays soprano sax, flute, ryuuteki (dragon flute), recorders, whistles, and didgeridoo; a relatively normal range of instruments compared to Lajos but by no means played in a conventional manner.
All the music is the product of free improvisation without scores or predetermined ideas and recorded in single takes with no overdubs. In a mission statement improvisation is praised in the following terms: "by exploring one's motivations and influences and becoming aware of those, such choices can (to some extent) escape the grasp of unconscious impulse and be free".
They get deeper into philosophical matters by quoting Spinoza's assertion that those who think that they are acting freely are usually just 'carried away by impulse' and expressing the belief that "human freedom is as illusory as the freedom of the improvising musician".
All this places Lajos and Taka squarely in a Catch 22 situation of striving for freedom of expression cognitive of the fact that freedom itself is a delusion.
You will get the point that this is not music conceived as lightweight entertainment.
This is also evident from the track titles which are identified by numbers and letters (70e, 55e, 72e, 56e, 66 x1, 66 x 2 and 66 x 3) rather than anything so bourgeois as names. Even the is duo's name is actually written as a symbol but is also pronounced and written as Gate.
After reading the philosophy and working methods of 'Gate' and learning that their influences include free jazz, noise, drone, doom and Japanese traditional music, the expectation is that the music itself will be a wild , unhinged cacophony of atonal abandon.
Surprisingly, Iterations is a relatively subdued affair. The long droning tracks evolve slowly, punctuated by saxophone honks and squawks or by eery sound effects. The latter are often akin to flapping of wings or someone searching desperately in a drawer full of metallic objects.
This makes for an undeniably strange and enigmatic album. There are no beats to tap along to or tunes to hum, but if you can live with its abstract concepts the effect is oddly calming.
Available in all country services of iTunes, AmazonMP3, Juno including USA, EU, UK, JP, CA. Also on HmvDigital (in Canada) and Meteli.net (in Finland)