Saturday, April 14, 2007

Album of the Year So Far
Accursed CDs! So many great albums that I forget to listen to because I always go for the vinyl first when I'm looking for something to play. This, friends, is my pathetic excuse for not having written about Solo, the latest album from Noriko Tujiko.

Solo is somewhat erroneously titled because it probably features more collaborators than any previous Noriko album. I'm in a good position to judge this because I have most of her (many) CDs (and one 12"). If I'm honest, a lot of Noriko's stuff sounds pretty similar - dreamy cooing over shifting, glitchy sound-scapes. But if I'm really honest, I have to say I wish she had more, more, more stuff because I really can't get enough.

I think it's truly fantastic that Juana Molina is getting so much love from the music bloggers I read on a day-to-day basis. Juana is a fantastic songwriter, an imaginative arranger and an extremely charismatic performer. And yet, whenever I hear her music, it mostly makes me wish I was listening to Noriko Tujiko. The comparison may seem trite - yes, yes they're both atmospheric female singer-songwriters with experimental electronic edge and non-English lyrics. What I'm getting at, though, is that the difference between Juana and Noriko is precisely the difference between great and really great music. While Juana's songs take one on a thoroughly pleasurable journey, Noriko's create a world of total bliss that inevitably self-immolates into a state of utter airless delirium.

Solo is full of such delirious sound-world explosions and features some of Noriko's very finest songs - especially "Ending Kiss", "Let Me See Your Face" and the absolutely titanic "Gift". It's also nice to see her recording for Peter "Pita" Rehberg's Editions Mego label again. "Nice" isn't the word - it's wonderful.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

has it just been a weak year so far for you, or is this really that great of a record? so similar to her other albums that its almost immediately forgettable, at least to me. this may be one of the best albums of the year for you so far but even you have to admit that it is a pretty atrocious album cover. death to photoshop!!

PS. this is New/Nu Mark@Zulu. I cant remember my danged Blogger ID, so im logged in as a guest. i figured i would post something to get that ol' English blood a boilin'.

Biggie Samuels said...

Partial credit!

"has it just been a weak year so far for you"

Pretty weak, I guess, yeah but I think the year always picks up steam as it goes along, which is why so much great stuff always comes out after I've finalized my top-ten of the year list but before the new year starts.

"or is this really that great of a record?"

Yes. It's fucking amazing. Huge.

"so similar to her other albums "

Well, like I said, most of her albums kind of sound similar but I actually appreciate the fact that you have to engage with them in order to pick out the differences. Perhaps the only weakness of "Solo" is that it's probably her most generically Noriko-ish sounding record in a while - not as experimental as "Make Me Hard" or "Blurred in my Mirror" and not as poptastic as "From Tokyo to Niaigara" or "28" but somewhere in the undistinguished middle-ground. Having said that, this very fact makes "Solo" a good place for Noriko neophytes to start.

"that its almost immediately forgettable, at least to me."

I'd put a positive spin on that - Noriko's songs aren't forgettable so much as they're hard to remember. She manages to write pop songs whose melodies breeze by in an ephemeral play of texture - which makes them authentically dreamlike and decidedly h**ntological, to boot.

"PS. this is New/Nu Mark@Zulu. I cant remember my danged Blogger ID, so im logged in as a guest. i figured i would post something to get that ol' English blood a boilin'."

What you do is select "Other" under "Choose an Identity" and type your name into the space provided. Come on you lot, how hard is that, really?

Once again, I emerge victorious.

NuMark said...

"even you have to admit that it is a pretty atrocious album cover"

admit it!!

Biggie Samuels said...

Maybe to, y'know, Western eyes, man but in Japan that kind of thing is considered to be, like, really elegant and tasteful.

I bet.

Brady Cranfield! said...

You dirty, dirty fetishist. Wazzup, Sammytown?

Biggie Samuels said...

I should take this opportunity to assure you all that:

(i) I do NOT have a fetish for Japanese women;

(ii) I do NOT tend to be sexually attracted to women whose music I admire.

Thank you.

Brady Cranfield! said...

It's true. Sam's affection here is perfectly natural, normal and healthy. But he does get hard for Scott Walker. That too is okay.

Biggie Samuels said...

Seriously, do you really, necessarily associate hero worship with sexual arousal and, if so, why?

Discuss.

Brady Cranfield! said...

Hero sandwich!

Biggie Samuels said...

Okay, okay.

I can see we aren't going to get anywhere with that line of questioning.

Brady Cranfield! said...

Geeze, Sam, no. Of course I don't think 'hero worship' (where'd that come from anyway?) need necessarily be associated with 'sexual arousal'. There is, however, plenty of potential for slippage and confusion, I imagine. Since I've never 'worshipped' anything, hero or otherwise, I'll have to rely on the first-person accounts of those who have. On the proper topic of this post, I will say that I've liked the way Noriko has used sexuality as a trope. Calling an album Make Me Hard, for example, is not only interesting in light of her and her work, it's also hilarious. And then there are her "sexy" press photos. Come to think of it, this recent album cover, too. But all this has nothing to do with what I was addressing in the first place, actually. I admit 'fetishistic' might not be the appropriate term, and I was using it for 'laughs', but I remain impressed by the intensity of your attachment to the things you like (LOVE!), which has an energy (perhaps not a little bit libidinal, methinks) that is somehow much, much greater than all your otherwise articulate explanations and justifications. Anyway, I was mostly just kidding around. To be totally honest, that Scott Walker really did cut a nice figure as a young man. Nowadays he looks like Garry Shandling's younger brother.

Mark RRRR said...

i have to agree with Brady on his comment

"I remain impressed by the intensity of your attachment to the things you like (LOVE!), which has an energy (perhaps not a little bit libidinal, methinks) that is somehow much, much greater than all your otherwise articulate explanations and justifications."

i mean seriously, who in their right mind could stick up for the new Fall album (aka. the worst Fall Lp since 'Are You Are Missing Winner?', which, itself, once boasted the title of Worst Fall LP of all time) other than a certain Fall die-hard who can somehow see beyond the blandness that is Reformation! Post-TLC and almost (i repeat, ALMOST) make you see it his way.