Review: Yama Yuki – Tufan (Impulsive Habitat, Dec 5)

Mie-born, Tokyo-based sound artist Yama Yuki deserves my thanks not just for the generally excellent phonography on display here but also for reintroducing me to Impulsive Habitat, a netlabel I’d previously encountered through Alma Laprida’s Teleférico and then promptly let slip from my memory. Each work is fully Creative Commons–licensed and available for free lossless digital download—something that, if you’ve been following this site for any length of time (let alone the past year), you know I appreciate. I was also drawn to Tufan because of its duration. Approximately 3″-length single track releases are an ideal medium for field recordists, the perfect amount of time to develop the character of the captured or created environment with just the right amount of progression. Yama’s latest, recorded over the course of 24 hours after a typhoon made landfall, is all about rain, from the soaking, blurred rhythms of torrential downpours to the soothing drone of a receding storm. At first it’s hard to tell if the latter is what’s occurring at the outset of the piece, the sounds of a wet night bifurcated into closeby droplets and a distant low din, but the two elements soon seem to phase in and out with each other, sometimes layering into a full immersive experience of both humans and nature getting drenched, other times refurling into their disparate state, as if the observer has just stepped under an awning or onto a porch. The stereo breadth is fantastic, allowing for the most fleeting of brake squeals and digital interference to seep in on each side, but Yama also knows when to yank it away, which is an experience I’d rather not spoil (you’ll just have to listen). It speaks volumes of the artist’s skill and sensibility that such an ambitious concept statement is successfully conveyed in just 23 minutes:

This track was created as part of my study to understand how intensely humans and surrounding objects/beings are subjected to external natural forces. If you happen to be outside during a natural hazard, there is no way you can avoid being involved in it. Throughout human history, we have continuously tried to protect ourselves from the force of nature, but that is still an impossible task, and we always find ourselves vulnerable to it. In this work, I wanted to explore the theme of vulnerability of human existence within this world. Tufan means “rainstorm” or “flood” in Turkish and it has its origin in Arabic, but similar words are found in many languages, including the Japanese “Taifu.”

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