Review: tmymtur – Yusei

It’s a strange paradox; a work built entirely out of the most tangible and intimate sonic building block available, rendered somewhat supernatural and otherworldly by the manner of its use. Not only does Yusei weave the human voice into something beautiful and unrecognisable, but it also works to highlight the wondrous unknown that lies within its very essence – lifting its audience into both a state of bliss and a heightened awareness of reality, capitalising on the joys of listening while simultaneously reminding us about the thin band of sensory naivety we are all forced to occupy.

The 20-minute piece sees tmymtur’s voice layered an unbelievable 5000 times, at which point it becomes a surge of breath and tone, rising and folding over itself like an incoming tide. If I wasn’t aware of the fact that I’m listening to pure waves of human voice I wouldn’t have guessed, but the knowledge of this sparks my awareness of the music’s beautiful choral qualities – like the echoes of a hymn swirling round cathedral rafters, liberated from the plosive and sibilance of articulation yet rich in little morsels of vowel and sigh that ride the surf like plankton caught into the flow.

Yet there’s more. Yusei has been recorded using special microphones that capture sound above the frequencies of human hearing (generally speaking, 20kHz plus). Apparently the human voice, and many sounds within nature (waterfalls, wind blowing through trees), are rich in these supersonic sound waves – while they can’t be heard, they are said to have a relaxing effect on the human brain. Not only is the piece heard, but acknowledged and intimately sensed; it evokes a transcendence that takes me deeper into my own reality rather than taking me aloft and away from it, highlighting an interconnection with my surroundings and fellow people that occurs outside of my sensory awareness.

Via a subsequent selection of remixes, tmymtur’s voice is further displaced. Celer teases the vocal fabric out into something resembling soft lights emerging through fog, Taylor Deupree expands on the piece’s wave-like motion to a make it arch beautifully up and down, while Stephan Mathieu subverts both expectation and the album’s predominant atmosphere to create a work of intense flickering repetition, oscillating on rapid fire in a manner that, while uncomfortable to begin with, ends up feeling mysteriously meditative.