Ygun –n9–
CD (E52)

“Twisting the small intestine of my sound…”

This is Yôko Higashi’s second hamaYôko album;
her debut CD, hamaYôko 4/29, was released
in October 2007. Ygun –n9– was co-mastered
by Lionel Marchetti, with whom she has just
completed the musique concrète album Pétrole
(E70, 2009).

See also

Edition of 300 copies

Yôko Higashi, Meiji Jingu, Tokyo 2007
Photograph by
Martin Holtkamp


Noise, music, voices, sound effects, electro-acoustic devices and
eerie sounds… Japanese artiste Yôko Higashi has a wealth of ideas
and musical associations, some of which are manifested in the credit
list alone. Performers as diverse as Violent Onsen Geisha and Chris
Corsano have inspired her compositions; Lionel Marchetti, the French
electro-acoustic composer, supplied some feedback noise on one
track, and helped Higashi do the final mastering. She is a very able
performer and composer, but on first spin I can’t get much of a
purchase on this meandering work. The pieces give the impression
of being packed with literary symbols, and many are a veritable mash-
up of colliding sound effects and cinematic devices. She seems to be
concerned with making an unfathomable experimental film in sound,
which isn’t a particularly original notion. This is highly evident on
‘Le train muet’, which is packed with aural events — screaming and
desperate whispered voices, and footsteps running from one side
of the stereo image to the other. Yet in spite of all these layers,
it’s also frustratingly incomplete and in many key places, it fails to
communicate. I can’t seem to find a way in to her hermetic world.

Ed Pinsent in The Sound Projector

Here we go again with Yôko Higashi, captured in full-karate attitude
in a superb black and white photo on the folded poster that acts as
sleeve. In the 38 minutes of this CD, Higashi confirms (and betters)
what she had let us glimpse in [her debut album] 4/29 on this same
imprint. A lot of things indeed: dramatic vocalisations amidst field
recordings, a chain of samples that enhance the affecting qualities of
the music, a sense of action-packed consecutiveness perceivable all
the way through, a penchant for detecting when enough is enough,
a gazillion sounds layered one upon another, absorbing collages that
won’t necessarily secure nerve-shattering to the listener. Maybe.
Lionel Marchetti is once more an integral part of the work but
hamaYôko is definitely walking with her own legs: you might love or
hate the stuff (difficult to remain in the middle in this case), yet at
all times be sure that it doesn’t sound like anything else: an absurdist
punkish theatre, flooded by acousmatic streams, in which meanings
must be dug out from singular settings, the sources ranging from ping
pong balls to looped voices, the whole absolutely un-beautiful — at
least according to the current canons of ‘beauty’ — and mostly great.
In actuality, not for the faint-brained. A major step forward from the
previous outing, and I’m more than happy for this improvement.
The young woman is indeed strong.

Massimo Ricci at Touching Extremes

Yôko Higashi is a young Japanese woman whose music can definitely
not be classified: abstract electronics, pure and modulated field
recordings, cut-ups, strings, singing… everything mixed as a chain of
radio accidents into an extremely exciting sound texture. Whether with
or without pattern, the musical structure stays inscrutable, as do the
Japanese lyrics; the [overall] aim and direction remain completely
mysterious — sometimes musique concrète, other times like Diamanda
Galás playing a game of ping pong, awesomely nuts like Violent Onsen
Geisha or haunting, nearly frightening. In addition to music and vocal
acrobatics Higashi is a dancer and choreographer. Perhaps that’s the
origin of these uncommen contortions and unsurveyable splits in many
simultaneous directions.

Ed Benndorf in De:Bug