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Ryoji Ikeda - Matrix
2 x CD Album
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Ryoji Ikeda



Released: 22nd January 2001 | 20 track minimalism album
Matrix is the final element in a trilogy of CDs that began with +/- in 1996. When it was first released, +/- came like a bolt out of the white. Nobody had used digital recording processes to produce sound as pure, as intense and as exhilarating. Since releasing 0° in 1998, Ryoji Ikeda has progressively refined and enhanced the distinctive sonic fields and microsounds that have strongly influenced post-digital composition, resisting the transitory cycle suggested by the term 'Glitches', creating compositions that probe deeply: our relationships to time and space, sound and light. Much of the time since 1998 has been spent touring with the Japanese performance group, Dumb Type, whose landmark show [OR] is shortly to be followed by a new presentation for which Ikeda has composed the sound, Memorandum. In January 2000, Ryoji Ikeda toured the UK with Zoviet*France. A closer connection to the 20 new recordings that make up Matrix can be found on the recent Touch 00 sampler, Matrix for an Anechoic Room, which came out in Spring 2000. That's the only forewarning of what awaits you on putting the first CD into your player. The layers of sound that make up Matrix [for rooms] transform both the listener and the listening environment into another dimension. The dimensions change as you move about the space, or simply turn your head around the sound like surveying the angles of a building. Matrix has much in common with the work of La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, Alvin Lucier..., but poised closer to the imminent and auto-interactive virtual world we are promised, Ryoji Ikeda's new work pushes the parameters of the drone to ask timely questions concerning our relationship to own perception, and to our existing living spaces.'
"Conceptual sound art can have a tendency to fall flat on its backside. Thus, its a great pleasure to announce that renowned tonality proponent Ryoji Ikeda has thoroughly come up trumps with this absolutely superb double album of metatones that must represent an all-time high for the already excellent touch label. Part 1 (Matrix for Rooms) is an hour-long continuous flow foggy, echoing high-pitch frequencies that pulse leisurely. This in itself is not a big deal. What is a big deal is the manner in which this creates a matrix-like sound field in the listening environment; wherever you sit (or stand, or whatever) in the room, the whole sound undergoes a transformation, either in pitch, timbre, or tempo. As such, it is potentially a unique experience on each occasion; such are the benefits of piling these particular tones (which exist in a very narrow range) on top of one another. Such things have been done in installation spaces, but I'm not aware of any such project reaching the CD environment before, not in as complete a form as this at any rate. This is (in its own quiet way) potentially explosive stuff. But even if you remain perfectly still, there is something about this slowly evolving pitch that is totally engrossing anyway. This isn't so much background music for your foreground activities as vice versa. Part 2 sees a greater paring back of the high-end frequencies and the introduction of some fearsomely enveloping bass dives. Though it can't hope to repeat the versatility of the earlier piece, this section is rooted firmly in the ~scape school of dub-techno and offers up 30 minutes that more than holds its own against anyone in that field. Indeed, this has a depth sometimes lacking in the minimal Teutonic pulse. A must buy, basically."
John Gibson, Grooves
"High concept digital art from Japan. 'Matrix [for rooms]', the first of this double cd album, comprises of ten pulsing, ambient rhythms that form a lulling white noise. These are defined by Ryoji as 'invisible patterns which fill the listening space - the listener's movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music.' It's trueS turn your head or walk around the room and you will find the pattern mysteriously changes with you. It's an unusual way of listening, although what end it serves is left entirely to your imagination. The second cd might perhaps a little more rewarding to the diehard ambient fan, though 'rewarding' isn't really a word that should be used for soundscapes this austere and minimal. In the absence of all melody and nearly all syncopation, there is merely the drone of the machine. At times it's as if 2001's dying supercomputer (HAL) decided to experiment with a little Glass and Reich - this is sound which often has no sense of human context or involvement. Bravely experimental."
Freddie Baveystock, Big Chill Net
"A bobbing, curling drone. Enervating foghorn gush. Ikeda, Japan's kinetic lacerator, makes noise out of pure, quotidian, regular sound - unusually vibrant tones, zealously xenophilic yodels. Zipping, yon, x-ray wallops vault undulating toward subtle reminders: quarks purged of never. Melted light. Knowing, joined in holy gone, faraway, ethereal, demonic, crepescular, bulbous, atomic. And both CDs delight. Electric frequencies gut hollows inside. Jagged keening loops menacingly, neurotically. Odd promise quakes, rupture spills, texture undoes, vertigo waces. Xanax yearnings zero. Zorn's yellowed, xeric wastes vanquished under the silence riled. Quixotic purity occludes noise, mass, light. Knife jabbed into hearing, gracefully. Force, entropy, deadly collisions. Beautiful. Absolute."
Phillip Sherburne, XLR8R
"Ikeda's music comprises sine waves, digital tones, subsonic pulses, minimal technoid rhythms and microscopic noise particles. Hence, it's often discussed in austere, abstract terms, as 'art' to be exhibited under glass (or in the Millenium Dome, where Ikeda had a polite 'installation'). Play it at bastard volume in a crowded room, though, (like we did in the Muzik office) and reactions range from my teeth hurt to I need the toilet to I'm going insane. In short, then, it's music for the body as well as the mind (heard that somewhere before?) - it provokes responses, spreads confusion and sounds like nothing else on Earth. It's the accidental punk rock record of the year so far."
Tom Muggridge, Muzik
"My ears are different, Ears are different. Ears are. Ears. Ears are different. Ears are. Ears. My ears are different. Ikeda's sonic sculptures explore the intricacies of the ear and its relationship with space. The pieces on Matrix are designed for rooms. Still minimal, sine wave-based tones, glitches and bumps, when played in a space, they sound different when you move around or even tilt your head. To say that Ikeda is a revolutionary composer is no hyperbole."
Mark Blacklock, Bizarre
"Ryoji Ikeda is beginning to hone his post-Lucier millennial minimalism down to two deceivingly simple ideas --- the physiological impact minimal sounds can have on listeners, and music of pattern. He also seems to be joining the current movement of Japanese sound artists who are narrowing their musical palettes as a reaction against information overload. Gone are the intense media collages and the layered ambience. Matrix is Ikeda's purest statement of intent to date. One CD full of sine waves that seem to change pulse and fold in on themselves as you move about the room, and another of simple pulses and tones evolving into a strangely funky way of approaching the usual BPMs."
Chad Oliveiri, Rochester City News, USA
"A few years ago, when I told my friend Theresa to go see La Monte Young's long-running Dream House installation on Church St., she came back and gleefully reported that she played the room with her head. Puzzled, I asked her what she meant. She told me that by simply moving her head in the space of Young's installation, she could control the pitch and frequencies of Young's droney sine waves. Young's installation is a must-see/must-experience for all, but if for some reason you can't make it down there (and there should be no reason: the show's been running for the past eight years and is scheduled to continue until June 23, 2001), you might want to pick up Ryoji Ikeda's new disc, which, when played loudly, almost replicates the Young experience. Now I'm not technically savvy and certainly don't understand what makes these pieces do what they do (try to decipher this ditty from La Monte Young: The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time When Centered above and below The Lowest Term Primes in The Range 288 to 224 with The Addition of 279 and 261 in Which The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped above and Including 288 Consists of The Powers of 2 Multiplied by The Primes within The Ranges of 144 to 128, 72 to 64 and 36 to 32 Which Are Symmetrical to Those Primes in Lowest Terms in The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped below and Including 224 within The Ranges 126 to 112, 63 to 56 and 31.5 to 28 with The Addition of 119, a periodic composite sound waveform environment created from sine wave components generated digitally in real time on a custom-designed Rayna interval synthesizer). Similarly, Ikeda's track listing from his new disc looks like this: TO:44.1: 10 tracks = 60:00 matrix [for rooms] 0000000001 matrix [for rooms] 0000000010 matrix [for rooms] 0000000100 matrix [for rooms] 0000001000 matrix [for rooms] 0000010000 matrix [for rooms] 0000100000 matrix [for rooms] 0001000000 matrix [for rooms] 0010000000 matrix [for rooms] 0100000000 matrix [for rooms] 1000000000 TO:44.2: 10 tracks = 31:03 .matrix 1111111110 .matrix 1111111101 .matrix 1111111011 .matrix 1111110111 .matrix 1111101111 .matrix 1111011111 .matrix 1110111111 .matrix 1101111111 .matrix 1011111111 .matrix 0111111111 From what I understand, when you put a couple of sustained tones that are close in pitch near each other, they create a shimmery, fluttering type of sonic activity that tickles your eardrums. And when you move your head slightly, the sine waves react to your physical motion and, in turn, change their sound. Ikeda's Matrix is in 10 parts, each roughly five minutes long and each having a slightly different set of tones, giving a slightly different set of aural impressions. Moving from rather low hums straight up into the higher registers, the results are very powerful. Like thumping sub-bass from the back of a Jeep, Ikeda's sounds actually affect not just your ears, but the core of your body; his pulses seem to be timed to bodily pulses and everything from your breathing to your blood circulation seems to fall in time with Ikeda's music. A couple of words of caution though. This disc needs to be played on a stereo in a room. If you try to listen to it on headphones, all you'll really hear is a consistent tone; the dynamics of moving your head to play the piece will not be possible. Likewise, when I played it on my WFMU show, I received complaints from listeners who, due to WFMU's lousy reception, are forced to keep their radio inmono. It seems that they, too, only heard a dullish set of drones. While La Monte Young's pieces are always better heard live than on a recording, Ikeda's are just the opposite. Reflecting his generation's infatuation with the vast possibilities of digital technology and manipulation, the recording becomes the ultimate fetishized product. In doing so, Ikeda takes installation art to a whole new level: the personal and the omnipresent. As it is with so much other digital technology these days, one needn't leave one's chair to experience what once was only kept in museums."
Kenneth Goldsmith, New York Press