Review: Wataru Okumura – Home Recordings (self-released, May 1)

a1484229256_10On Home Recordings, Wataru Okumura’s first release, the Japanese sound artist is entirely unconcerned with concealing the humble origins (improvisational sound experiments and studies) and instrumental palette (guitar, bass, and sampler) of his minimal music, and yet it nonetheless reaches heights of emotion and intimacy that even much more technically complex works fail to grasp. Whether Okumura is percussively plucking strings or tinkering with various snippets bound to trigger pads, his creations shudder and shake into existence with organic flexibility like some dazed, emaciated figure waking after years of deep sleep. Especially in the case of “Domestic Improvisation 1,” which makes use of more conventionally tonal components than the following two tracks, these brief sonic sketches somehow feel unshakably personal and handcrafted, probably because of their innate “inwardness”—that is to say, despite however many additional materials Okumura adds to his soundscapes, everything seems to sprout from a single center point, a singularity in the dense household silence out of which countless minuscule fragments of fragile anti-silence are coaxed. The final moments of “Domestic Music Concrete Study 2” are a perfect example of this ostensibly contradictory simultaneous structure: tangible scrapes and shuffles twirl in tenuous orbit around a hypnotic air-current drone that emanates from everywhere and nowhere at once… before it’s all extinguished in a sudden but surprisingly natural cessation.