Shinkei and Turra, sound artists and owners of Koyuki, a label that forages through the realms of minimalism, do a compelling canter through an electronic forest on YU, their debut release for NVO. Time and again the duo’s calmness of spirit refresh these compositions of spare and visionary clarity, making them feel airy, having them recede and approach, or simply sit suspended, their chasmic ambience combed by fine-toothed bristles, coloristic patterning, and slight polyrhythmic taps.
“WA” is full of tiny incidents that slowly draw in the listener’s environment. Smoothly hiccuping electronics gently build until fizzling like soluble aspirin, some evocative textures and field recordings of nature’s sputtering adding further to the depth of sound and enriching the pieces soulful timbre. While this makes for a particularly potent section, much of the rest of the disc opts for a far more telling use of space: illuminating it with the spartan simplicity of a sinewave, charging it with a spiritual undercurrent through the decay of tiny tones into the continuity of relative silence, or rendering it warm and vibrant with slight crests, surges, shapeshifts and such.
With less horizontal narrative, a number of works leave the ear to the pleasure of moment by moment textural changes, subtle variations in tonal color, and all manners of discovery. “Karesansui”, for instance, beings with but a thin, needling crackle of crystalline clarity. It then heaves into thicker cloud formations, which themselves eventually clear, suddenly placing one in the middle of a forest, dripping, gurgling, and humming with vigor and innocence. The sound of a distant chant registers near the latter portion of the piece, linking all of this somewhat more clearly with a certain Zen tradition. A hovering electronic locust swarm descends over it, however, opening the work up more to interpretation. Before it ends, through its fluttering delicacy and steady breaths of sublimity, YU establishes itself as a standout recording of a most rare variety.