Review: Emanuele Fais – Haikustica (Aural Tempel, Jul 24)

There are always things both lost and gained when one favors transparency in naming tracks. Artists like Toshiya Tsunoda and Taku Unami (as is apparent from the titles of the pieces that comprise their Wovenland series on Erstwhile) believe that a sound being identified is what provides and ensures its significance, while many others (including myself) would disagree. I’d instead argue that identification guarantees a particular kind of significance, one that emphasizes the sonic character of the sound itself rather than its overall presentation or aesthetic. This is ostensibly acknowledged in the case of Emanuele Fais’s new release Haikustica, self-described as “raw recordings, no editing, no effects, no structures. Just pure sounds.” This purity is partly achieved via the track titles, which reveal exactly what is being used in each of the improvisation(“Singing bowl and bells,” “Broken guitar strings,” “Trash bin,” etc.), but also through the crystal-clear quality of the recordings, which contain little to no intrusions from the surrounding environment/location—with the exception of “Found percussions and field recordings.” Thus, the objects, devices, and other materials that Fais uses are not situated in a preexisting space, but rather they create the space. This is especially apparent on the “Self-built junk instrument” tetralogy of tracks, whose audio-physical dimensions expand and contract along with the intensity and volume of Fais’s performance. Haikustica is an excellent release for those who enjoy both junk/clutter improvisation (a la A Realistic Morning Prayer or Discordant Seeds) and the crystalline sublimity of Max Eastley’s installation work.

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