Toshimaru Nakamura Dance Music

[Bottrop Boy; 2008]

Styles: free improvisation
Others: Otomo Yoshihide, Keith Rowe, Taku Sugimoto

With Dance Music, Toshimaru Nakamura delves into various conclusions regarding the use of unwanted noise for art, and, in doing so, molds normally displeasurable sounds into something compelling and impossible to ignore. This is apparent from the beginning of “For Shizu Araki,” which utilizes piercing, nearly undetectable frequencies that almost wither formlessly into one’s listening space rather than make themselves readily apparent. On first listen, it’s hard to tell if there’s actually anything playing, yet the subtle ring forcing its way into your head creates a sort of bittersweet delirium. Some more tangible, yet still high-octave, feedback starts to find its way in before a lower rumble mingles with the counteracting higher tones.

The second piece, “For Namiko Kawamura And Kubikukuri Takuzo,” begins with similar nether-octave tones, yet focuses on the pulsations of one piece of formless feedback. The accidental crackles and burbles loom away before cricket-aping shakes, followed by a sudden cessation and a return to familiar pastures of unending rings. Around the 11-minute mark, a powerful pulse, as-yet the most defined piece of sound on the CD, dominates above all else, an atonal sheet of sound that noticeably changes texture and timbre depending on one’s placement within the sounds. It’s here where the significance of interpretation becomes apparent within Nakamura’s piece: like La Monte Young’s New York installation The Dream House, it’s up to each participant in the immersion of the piece to decide what they are really hearing and what is the consequence of such auditory illusions. While constantly reverting back to the haven of near-nothingness, the piece keeps at a pace of forward-motion, soon delving into explicitly rhythmic throbs of low-end.

The album’s title, Dance Music, though reeking of rather standard avant-intellect smugness, refers to the fact that both pieces accompany a dance repertoire. Like Derek Bailey’s Music And Dance, there is a detectable loss in not having the intended visual accompaniment to these pieces, bodies moving to the abstract sounds produced by the musicians; yet both records have enough sense of purpose and composition on their own merit. Personally, my mind is boggled as to how the dancers taking part in the project would respond to these pieces. If any such projects deserve the CD/DVD two-fer, this is one of them (by the way, the packaging by Bottrop-Boy is, as usual, exquisite).

More often than not, Nakamura succeeds in taking extremity to near-punishing conclusions, letting the undying din of his electronic chance gestate into an ominous mist. While hardly the most facile album to jump into, Dance Music is a stark and arresting 72 minutes of tones both rare and familiar, a meld of the obscurely inviting and intensely crushing, pushing the concept of sound to its logical extremes.

1. For Shizu Araki
2. For Namiko Kawamura and Kubikukuri Takuzo


Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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