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Album Review

Ken Ikeda's second album builds on the strengths of his first (Tsuki (Moon)) to achieve a superior result. Once more, the sound palette consists mostly of backward sine tones, like sounds emanating from a ghostly glass organ. But this time, melodies are severely slowed down and fleshed out to allow the mind to focus on the intersecting soundwaves. The music is still prettier (by common understanding) and listener-friendly (all pieces fall within the comfortable four-to-five-minute range) than most of what you can find in experimental electronica, but it takes the listener on a more abstract journey, one that also puts more strain on the ear when experienced at high volume. Some of those tones seem to enter your ear and expand inside your head, filling it up and applying pressure from the inside out. Ikeda experiments with dynamics and depth, pushing some mid-range tones up front in order to free some room in the back for parallel developments that are best described as "contrapuntal." The vintage German-school feel is still strong, but now brings to mind maverick electronicians like Conrad Schnitzler and Asmus Tietchens (his albums from the early '80s). "Cityscape," sweet and quiet, and "Gate," chiming delicately, are the gems, while the most testing listen comes from the aptly titled "Ambiguity." In fact, the word suitably describes the whole album since its gentleness can be misleading — for the better. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Merge, Ken Ikeda
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