Tujiko Noriko – Solo (Editions Mego)


Japanese pop-electronica connoisseur Tujiko Noriko displays a wry sense of humor in her choice of cover art for her sixth full-length effort – a glistening pink backdrop spangled by shooting stars with the pop diva sitting coy in baby blue. At first blush, the drawing seems to portray an image-conscious artist mocking herself in her most exhibitionist form. Better yet, though, quite apart from painting over something of the order of an underlying enigma, the artwork could just as well be taken as an accurate depiction of the music housed inside.

This is not to say that Noriko has gone soft. In fact, her music remains much the same as on previous works such as Shojo Tushi and Make Me Hard. At the same time, the album does represent a marked shift away from the irregular rhythms and cryptic textures which Noriko toyed with throughout Blurred In My Mirror. Instead, for this albums nine songs, Noriko lets her nimble programming and quavering tonal centers peak through diaphanous, undulating layers of ambience.

As the album proceeds, it becomes apparent that the work is not thronged with nearly so many ideas as on previous outings. They are a great deal more tempered and patient, though, as tracks avoid sinewy lines or brash techniques, opting instead for a slow build up from delicate timbral pools of astral beauty, to a modest yet limber swing. Still, certain pieces would certainly have benefitted from Noriko’ trademark restless energy and sly use of cut-and-paste techniques. On songs such as ˇSpotˇ and ˇIn A Chinese Restaurantˇ, the beats drop out almost entirely, and the warm haze of the bowed and plucked string instruments is shrouded by smears of static and an austere metallic drone like shafts of sun on a summer’ day. The piece conveys a hushed melancholy, yet its barefaced approach to the production of meaning and emotion isn’ as convincing or absorbing as Noriko’ promiscuous play with appearance. Solo once again shows that Noriko is a more than capable sound-sculptor. All the same, it is not one of her stronger works.

Max Schaefer


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