Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto - insen
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With insen, Alva Noto (aka Carsten Nicolai) and Ryuichi Sakamoto continue the collaboration they started with their 2003 debut, vrioon, voted by The Wire as 2004's electronica record of the year. Particular interest was shown in Nicolai's creation of anew synergy of acoustic piano and digital post-production in his interpretation of Sakamoto's piano clusters.
As on the debut, the composition process is strictly split between the two musicians (piano by Sakamoto; production and additional sounds by Nicolai). However, insen carries the "transcendental aura" of an early morning meditational exercise, while avoiding the field of new age philosophy. Enriched by new elements, this "high-tech meditation" follows a consistent line.
On vrioon, Nicolai's typical sinusoidal sounds counterbalanced Sakamoto's piano chords. Now on insen, Nicolai works directly with the piano sounds, dismantling Sakamoto's recordings with "surgeon-like precision" into micro loops; into their atomic elements. Starting with these sound atoms, he creates a new basis for form, compressing, floating, and rotating rhythm with harmonic sequences and melodic counterpoints, and laying it underneath the piano tracks. This makes insen appear more complex, though the time-stretched flow and the clear lines of the piano stay untouched.
The album is a dedication. Created far away from its recipients, insen might be a kind of dialogue. It definitely represents the diary of a several month stay at Leon Feuchtwanger's Villa Aurora, where a large part of the production, as well as the final mixes, were completed. The themes and the track titles refer directly to that place, to times of day and to events there. Even the colors on the album cover evoke the emotions and atmosphere experienced at Villa Aurora.
Only the track "berlin" was recorded later, during a session at Nicolai's studio in Berlin. As a reference to that place, one can hear a flock of birds singing in the background of the recording.
"aveol" closes the album-diary with a mysterious beauty. The evolution of piano recording and digital post production are pushed the furthest on this track, and the combination reaches its (temporary) final point.
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Catalog Number: ASP 2029
Release Date: January 1, 2005