Music Reviews

Artist: Tomo (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Daft Alliance (@)
Rated: *****
Japanese transplant electronic musician Tomonori Yasudo has his fingers in a few pies, like San Francisco bands Coconut, Window Window and Willpower (currently) and The Boy Explodes (formerly). But here, Tomo is on his own. You could call "Tomo" an experimental album, of sorts, but it raises the question of what really "is" experimental and what is just badly conceived and executed music. I’m pretty open-minded about experimental music, I’m not adverse to difficult listening experiences so long as they are engaging. On first listen to this CD, all my instincts shouted "trash". I gave it a second listen and was able to analyze it a bit more deeply to discover exactly why I didn’t like it. For starters, Tomo’s overuse of celeste and bell-like synths and other cheapo-preset sounds became old quickly. Most of the music doesn’t rely on conventional form, but that in and of itself is not the problem- the real problem was that very little ever seemed to develop. There are elementary snippets of melody, scales, sequences, triads, etc. along with the odd chord here and there played on top of awkward, clunky beats and sometimes breakbeats. It all tended to sound like a used Casio synthesizer that worked initially, but malfunctioned quickly after the guy you bought it from disappeared. It reminded me a lot of the idea tapes I used to make when I bought my first synth (an ARP 2600) ages ago. The only piece of music that stuck with me on the whole disc was "Ritual Of Bubble", a more structure and evolved piece that recalls Yellow Magic Orchestra’s better moments. Okay, I still wasn’t sold... Third play yielded yet a new perspective- "this is kiddie music for adults"! The cartoonish aspects of the compositions seemed to come to the fore. Okay, now I realize it’s supposed to sound cheap and twee. Did I like it any better? Well no, not really. Still sounds mostly like the kind of recording novice synthesists might make while they’re trying out their gear. But at least I can respect it. Can’t say I’d highly recommend it, but you can’t please everybody.

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