Album Review

Tone, Yasunao – “Yasunao Tone” – [Asphodel]

Naysayer   9/6/2014   A Library, CD

Yasunao Tone is one of those people I would bow down to and then sit on the floor and listen to his every sound, his every word. He takes experimental and academic and outsider not as a trend label but as an accepted part of who he is, his whole being. Too much you might say? Not enough I might respond. An original member of the Fluxus movement, founding member of Group Onguku a noise experiment to be reckoned with, Yasunao moved to New York in the ’70’s and has stayed there ever since, working on the fringe where he is revered by many in a diverse area of the arts.
This project, “Yasunao Tone”, on the Asphodel label, is an extension and fuller exploration of his “Wounded Man” 3 inch CD. Three pieces of digital madness that are at first jaw-droppingly abrasive but after subsequent listenings become a “soothing” and comfortable soundtrack for our time. Before knowing what he was doing I was trying to figure out the onslaught of sounds: skipping cd noise, computers stuck, typewriters repeating a key, buzzing machines ripping metal apart, etc. and all in short 1 to 3 second segments. Just a non-stop barrage of sound bits. It is so chaotic and brilliant. It becomes a game, at first, to start identifying what are the sounds. Later, when the listener lets go of this natural tendency, the noise becomes a sort of music that is understood. What Yasunao is doing is manipulating CD’s: physically destroying them, adding tape to them, scratching them, and then letting older cd players read the information. This is called “damaged disc” technique. Supposedly he uses a number of damaged discs. I am not sure if he then edits this together or what but maybe, at this point, our lack of knowledge of process will allow us to let go and fall into the madness of electronic chaos. Sound like too much? Not really because we live in it every day. Yasunao just condenses it for us to focus on. Enjoy.

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