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Album Review

Garden is electronic drum machine/sampler player Ikue Mori's first completely solo recording. Although the very existence of an entire album of solo drum machines and samplers is rather impressive, the result is, not surprisingly, somewhat challenging to listen to. The niche Mori has carved for herself playing three modified drum machines simultaneously always yields highly fascinating sounds, as are explored on this release. And her compositions are indeed accomplished, as also illustrated by this release. But except for true fans of experimental music, the frequent lack of a discernible melodic line makes Garden kind of hard to take. Electronically manipulated drums, shaker, triangle, scraping and whooshing sounds swim around the listener's head with sometimes dizzying use of the stereo field. To approach Mori's compositions as "jazz" or "rock, " however, would be completely wrong and ill-advised. Mori is more concerned with sound and rhythm than creating a groove as such. In fact, her approach to rhythm is completely her own and the pieces are more like moods than tunes. Almost all of the tracks on Garden are all longer than seven minutes, and only briefly lapse into hokey little melodies, as on the nifty opening ditty, "The Pit and the Pendulum." For the most part, however, the key to understanding Mori's music is to just absorb the sounds and multiple rhythms in a calm, preferably dimly lit environment, or use it as a kind of exotic background to accompany other activities.


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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Garden, Ikue Mori
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