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Lethe - Catastrophe Point 7 & 8 [Invisible Birds - 2010]

"Catastrophe Point 7 & 8" is a haunting, eerier, original and subdued noisy mixture of: industrial like field recordings, drones and the odd dab of minimalist piano patterning and texturing. The Lethe project is all the work of Japanese sound artists, subtle improviser and uneasy mood-setter Kuwayama Kiyoharu. The project  has been in existence since  the late 1990ís, and it certainly has a very distinctive, detailed yet unequal feel to itís sonic unfold.

First off itís worth mentioning the rather stark, grim yet oddly beautiful letter press & handmade 3 panel black card sleeve that the two CD's come in. The cover features a rather cryptic picture of a single stone half in light and half in darkness on the cover, inside the sleeve are inversed or solarised pictures of the inside of an abandoned factory. And in the middle pocket of the sleeve is a single sheet of white A4  that offers a  rather pretentious and highbrow description of the projects intentions( but donít let this put you off!).

This two disc set offers up two lengthy twenty plus minute tracks on the first disc, and three tracks on the second disc which fall between just over the thirteen and twenty minute mark a piece. Each disc is also themed around one site where field records are made/created by the environment around Kiyoharu. The first disc features the two tracks of  Catastrophe Point 7, and was recorded in a contemporary theatre space rather grimly called Arsenic in Lausanne, Switzerland. And the second disc features the three  tracks that make up Catastrophe Point 7, and this was recorded in an abandoned power station in Scotland.

Each of the five pieces finds Kiyoharu creating a very captivating and detailed, yet often subdued and spaced-out sound map that takes in: echoed walking, pipe clunking and dragging, all manner of sawing, banging and cluttering, glass breaking and debis pulling apart,  eerier and harmonic drone textures, and the odd touch of doomy or tinkling piano minimalism. Kiyoharu then arrangers these elements into semi rhythmic or structured  patterns that sometimes flit with harmonic detail. All the tracks are very loose yet precise making sure thereís space to hear and appreciate each element, yet it also keeps some kind of structure and progression in place too.

I guess itís quite difficult to really define what this is as it sits between being an: field recording album, an natural ambient album, a subtle improvised album, and a minimalist compositions album- and I guess thatís what makes this so rewarding, intriguing and original. So if your after something that rather blurs the lines between subtle noise, found sound and ambience this is a must have item!

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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