Review: Masayuki Imanishi – Tone

Project4Imanishi divulges his sound sources. Radio, paper, field recordings. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that I’m listening to the microscopic sounds of plant life and microbial growth: the bubbling of cell division, the tinny hums of photosynthesis, the slosh of water molecules, the chattering sines of inter-cell communication. Everything is strange and delicate, muffled as the recording device strains the capture the miniature details, like the audio equivalent of quivering microscope cells. The recording quality displaces me from my subject. Because I so prominently hear the hiss and  pops of the medium, I can’t help but constantly register my place on the outside, looking in. I’m an observer. A scientist. Witnessing behaviour, taking notes, witnessing again.

The hand of Imanishi is cleverly concealed within the work. It doesn’t strike me that the movements of these sounds may be instigated by human intention. Instead, I think of them as independent entities, shuffling and fidgeting in accordance with their own instinct. Noises drop out suddenly or appear from nowhere; the whistle of radio signal swoops in like intrusive electronic inference. Imanishi avoids the hallmarks of human-centric compositional development – the pieces don’t build and strengthen in conviction over time, or dismantle themselves neatly upon completion. The individual fragments of sound – those alien trickles, those indistinct scuttles of tiny legs – seem to converse and interrelate as they please, shifting states unpredictably, convulsing in accordance with sudden bursts of energy. Each track fades out suddenly. In my head, this simply means that my window for scientific monitoring is now over. The music continues to exist somewhere unheard; somewhere unobserved.