Review: Toshimaru Nakamura – NIMB #9 (Room40, Jul 6)

The unifying element throughout Japanese experimental musician Toshimaru Nakamura’s twenty year career of collaborations and performances is his no-input mixing board series. Though the unique instrument, which is played by plugging a mixing board’s output back into its input and manipulating the resulting feedback, is Nakamura’s primary tool on almost all of the releases on which he appears, his NIMB albums are where he explores its possibilities unfettered by other forces. On NIMB #9, the newest installment out on Room40, Nakamura works with looping mixtures of high and low frequencies, fusing the wispy, fragile tones of his earlier releases with noisy rumbles reminiscent of 2013’s #8. Unlike that latter album’s long form pieces, #9 sticks with shorter track lengths, with the longest just under seven minutes; the focus here seems to be more on the textures themselves rather than how they change or progress, and at times there even seem to be muffled melodies that emerge amidst the woozy loops. It frequently reminds me of the sublime brokenness of dusty 78’s played on an old gramophone, an unusual similarity given the distinctly non-analogue origin of the sounds. While not as immediately impacting as the last, more visceral installment, NIMB #9 is a slow burn that I think will reveal even more value upon more listens.

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