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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Toshimaru Nakamura - NIMB #62 (OTOROKU, 2021) ****

By Ron Coulter

As the title implies, this is the 62nd in release Nakamura’s “NIMB” series of solo, no-input mixer works that span over 21 years.

Nakamura’s instrument of choice is a sound mixing board/console, which is not designed to produce any sound, but rather to “mix” sounds inputted to them from instruments and microphones (volume, panning, equalization, etc.). The no-input approach requires the misuse, or extended technique, of the mixer to create aleatoric feedback within the mixer’s circuitry; this is accomplished by plugging outputs to inputs and other routing configurations on the mixer. Notably, Nakamura additionally employs guitar effects pedals to manipulate the sound outputted from the mixer.

Much of the early NIMB series tends toward the contemplative and melodic with short rhythmic loops or spacious drones (see #1 and #2 for example). Later works in the series utilize rhythmic and drone textures but become much noisier in timbre (see #49 and #61 for example). The majority of the NIMB series are relatively short in duration, often less than 12 minutes, while NIMB #62 is one of the more noisey, sonically aggressive, and longest in duration at 20’25”.

NIMB #62 is noise music, but there is a noticeable and unusual level of control audible here in the shaping and development of the music. This is likely attributable to the use of guitar effects pedals in addition to the mixer where the control over the sound processing is predictable, in contrast to the generally aleatoric sound production from the no-input mixer. While this is an improvisation, it does present a linear compositional sense of form to the music as it unfolds. In other words the listener feels as though they are following a path of unfolding development, or sections, rather than being presented with a 20-minute wall of sonic abstraction.

NIMB #62 opens with a dense, distorted rhythmic riff that is gradually revealed as the distortion reduces and the periodic rhythm dissolves into less predictable sparks and crackles and eventually into rough, dirty drone-like textures rising in pitch and textural fineness to the end. The entirety of the track moves from section to section in smoothly evolving textures that avoid abrupt change while the listener traverses this consistently evolving soundscape in a pleasant and unsuspecting way.

This is an enjoyable listen for anyone who likes improvisation and noise, covering the gamut from dense destruction to whispy crackles, much of it with an engaging rhythmic underpinning, albeit mostly aperiodic and abstracted rhythm. Listeners are encouraged to check out other works from Nakamura’s NIMB series, as there is a delightful and surprising variety in his work that can’t be appreciated from just this one release.