Ogurusu Norihide Humour Review

BBC Review

Electronics and acoustic instrumentation meet in this collection of miniatures by...

Marcus Scott 2002

Although Ogurusu Norihide is described in his press release as one of the "leading purveyors of minimal pop", I'm pretty certain this collection of title-less, vocal-less musical sketches isn't going to worry your average pop idol too much.

The fact is, Norihide (who is currently studying to be a Shinto priest) doesn't give away many clues; perhaps making the tracks on this album only identifiable by their lengths goes someway to allow the audience to find their own meaning in his music.

One meaning you can read into the music comes through in the gentle melding of the organic/acoustic world and the digital world. It's easy to see the nature worship of Ogurusu'sShinto faithliving side by side with his super modern native city of Tokyo as an easy comparison to the methods and sound of his music.

Humour compiles Norihide's own self released eps study and I. The album features an array of tracks mostly played on either the acoustic guitar or on the piano. There are also two tracks of pure abstract electronics and one played on a dry sounding hand drum. The electronic side of the album (aside from the two purely digital tracks) consists of very subtle manipulations, or barely-there rhythmic accompaniment.

Over three of the folky acoustic guitar tracks, it's the deceptively simple touches of backwards loops, delays and layering which bring the tracks to life, along with the use of subtle, quiet digital drums that manage to sound organic; like blocks of wood or metal on metal.

However it's track four, a simple guitar melody against a background of chirping crickets which fall in and out of time and pitch with the music in the foreground, and track eight which employs the use of dramatic silences as two chords are slowly repeated, which show the artist at his most thoughtful and creative.

The overall minimalism of this album reveals both its best and worst qualities; whilst some of it works, as Ive just described, it also reveals the problem that as a collection it comes across as a series of unfinished sketches. This problem is most obvious in the piano pieces, which sound much like someone practising. Furthermore, the solo drum piece which although is given a little deft electronic manipulation is still as exciting as any other seven and a half minute drum solo you can think of.

The two electronic tracks are fine but they seem out of place, as if they were added to show off the musicians skill; unfortunately this is unnecessary and they detract rather than add to the cohesion and feel of the album as a whole work.

In parts this is an enjoyable album, andNorihide has some finely honed skills. However a more careful selection and a little more work could have made it a great deal more special.

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