Review: Katsura Mouri + Tim Olive – Various Histories

Various Histories was apparently recorded on a clammy summer day in Kyoto, without the cool respite of air conditioning. The impact this has had on the creative process is unmistakable – sound presses itself against my skin and suffocates my pores, either as burps of noise rasping off a turntable or the amplified crinkle of metal as it’s scrunched up around a microphone. On several occasions my head is swamped by a low buzzing: the very sonic equivalent of thick and oppressive heat, clinging to all fibre and texture and dragging it down toward the earth, while ironically mimicking the purring motor of a clunky motel air conditioning unit.

To the touch, Various Histories is prickly, grainy; the whoosh of inflated balloons hits my ears like a spear tearing through the blanket of white noise, and while the primitive means of audio capture is often at the expense of representative realism, it’s thoroughly compensated by the exaggerating distortion that turns incidental noises into brash and rowdy events. A crumpled can becomes a buckle of aluminium bone structure – a shiny spine shifting into gruesome, unnatural zig-zags – while the delicate roll and scrape of tinfoil around the palm of the hand (this is what it sounds like, at least) feels like an iron maggot squirming into my left ear, while a dizzying corridor of electronic oscillation beckons my right ear into the infinite.