Organic Cloud S O L O  

Psycho-Acoustic  S O L O  
Tonic Bit
Dot Hack
Psycho Plastic
Modu Lotion
Rebeat Reduction
All Natural
Tom & Tone
May 19, 1998 7213 Tzadik

Professing to be bored and disinterested with the conventions of electronic music, particularly those of a traditionally 'ambient' nature, Tetsu Inoue seems to have made good on his philosophy. "Psycho Acoustic", released by Tzadik in 1998, is an electrifying portrait of a creative mind actualizing change. Going further than simply abjuring cliches and conventions, Inoue forcibly rockets himself away from them in almost every possible way and crafts a detailed masterwork in the process.

Technically and philosophically, "Psycho Acoustic" is ostensibly as far away from Inoue's past work as possible. Whereas his established classics on the FAX label were characteristically slow-moving, melodic 'ambient' pieces, long-form and sometimes epic in length, and constructed entirely with analog electronics, the artworks that comprise "Psycho Acoustic" are high-speed and frenetic masses of meticulous brevity.

Utterly in contrast to Inoue's "body music" of the recent past, the nine tracks presented here are entities of infinitesimal DSP intricacy and are accordingly polished. Reportedly thousands of hours went into the creation of these pieces, several of which fall merely near the 3-minute mark. This fact is even more impressive when considering Inoue used to record entire albums in the space of one day. The only attribute this new art of Inoue shares with his old work is the profound way in which his music evolves so smoothly, so naturally, so organically. The listener's utter immersion and surrender elicited by his older work remains, at its core, unchanged. Within this new context of ultrafast composition, however, the naturalistic sense of progression is compressed and brought to the fore. Jarring and capricious though this album may be, not one element ever seems out of place.

Melody, harmony, and rhythm were at one time familiar tools of Inoue. "Psycho Acoustic" almost wantonly mocks all three. The majority of sounds to be found here are entirely nonmelodic, and those that are melodic stand out all the more colorfully for it. Harmony is reduced to sporadic clusterings and disjointed fields of relation. Rhythm is for the most part completely disregarded, and is in its few appearances perverted and abased. The only track to prominently feature rhythm is the album's finale, which features another Japanese musician, Ikue Mori. (Here, a simple galloping beat provides a flat projection upon which countless microscopic blips, cracks, waves, whistles, scratches, ripples, and sprays liberally cavort.) All of this is not to say that "Psycho Acoustic" is an unstructured mess. Quite to the contrary, this is a work full of strong points. Inoue displays a master's touch for sound design, texture, and logical, constructive sound-grouping. Every element of this challenging album is laboriously conceived and put in place. Far from his former gilded euphorics, there is nary a moment to be found here where the listening space is not tingling, tearing, waving, rippling, mutating, pulsing, fracturing or crumpling. A great sense of nonthreatening tension permeates all of it, and the unpredictability is wonderful.

Granted, some listeners will inevitably be put off by Inoue's unfettered, almost Dadaist performance here. It's an undeniably idiomatic work, but in my view one that reflects the raw moment of inspiration and the evolution of an intense musical mind. Expectations are shattered in the confrontational mischief of "Psycho Acoustic", and in the resulting disorientation, we the audience enjoy the fruits of an artist's metamorphosis.

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