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Album Review

Ikue Mori has been on a roll since 1996's Garden was issued by Tzadik. She has worked in many settings, from trios — with Robert Quine and Marc Ribot — to sextets, as she did on One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, to completely solo works, such as Garden. This effort, Myrninerest, is another solo work, played entirely on a computer. The inspiration for Myrninerest is the exceptional work of the late spiritualist and artist Madge Gill (1918-1961); Mori has always been drawn to visual artists and is one herself (she came up with the base design for all Tzadik projects, and did full design on them for years). Gill created thousands of drawings and paintings, claiming she was channeled by the spirit-world guide Myrninerest. Given the strange and otherworldly beauty of her work, what's not to believe? In any case, Mori uses her personal computer to "channel" from one sound world to another — the world of electronic sonics, the aural atmospherics of the organic world, the arrangement of vibration created by various musical instruments — from percussion (acoustic and electric), to stringed instruments like cellos, violins, banjos, and harp. There are many other noises and blips, beeps, and bonks that wander in and out here, pulses created by who knows what. But the point is, that sound here is arranged according to an order inspired by and in tribute to this visionary artist. Mori has always been able to translate the visual to the aural, as she did on One Hundred Aspects of the Moon where her source was a series of woodblocks by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Myrninerest (the name of Gill's spirit-world guide) is no exception. And as such, nothing here is random, though it doesn't feel plotted or overly strategized, either. It's sensory, intuitive, and internal, this music. It bears as much concern for the outside world as Harry Partch's music did (indeed, some of the percussion instruments here feel like they were sampled from his compositions). Mori's music carries a lighter sense of drama and dynamic than it has in the past, and yet, she can manage tension with the best of them. These 13 pieces reflect the kind of maturity, control, and sheer confidence only a seasoned musician can muster. This is a strange and beautiful recording — Mori's most accessible since Painted Desert — it is utterly captivating, engrossing, and labyrinthine.


Born: 1953 in Tokyo, Japan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Ikue Mori has been a key member of the downtown music scene since moving to New York from Tokyo in 1977. She began her career playing drums for the seminal "no wave" group DNA, which she formed with guitarist Arto Lindsay and keyboardist Tim Wright. After the short-lived but highly influential group broke up in 1982, Mori began improvising live and recording with experimental musicians like Fred Frith, Tom Cora and, most notably, John Zorn. By 1985, Mori had completely abandoned the standard drum...
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Myrninerest, Ikue Mori
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