Since the late 1980’s, Japan’s Otomo Yoshihide has been busy crafting his art, both as an instrumental guitarist, but also as a unique turntable exploiter and all-around noise experimentalist. His thirst for ear damaging improvisation is tailor made for the borderless directions his compositions often travel. (To those vaguely familiar with his work, he may be best known for his recent releases on John Zorn’s Tzadik label.) Personally, I like the fact Otomo named one of his past projects Les Sculpteurs de Vinyl (Memory & Money), because this so-called genius probably wasn’t referring to spinning the discs, but rather tragically transforming them (nope, this isn’t for the faint of heart).
This live duo project with Montréal’s Martin Tétreault was recorded over several dates in France, the Netherlands and Switzerland in 2003- and I’m fairly certain no vinyl was damaged or destroyed. That’s because Tétreault and Yoshihide’s turntable time on 4. Hmmm is spent inside the machines, or at least messing about with its speed motor and its physical components. This is about finding sonic textures and frequencies by tearing the turntable apart- something Martin Tétreault has been experimenting with for some time, ultimately making this a perfect artistic match. To be perfectly honest, this is left-over material from prior Actuelle CD releases featuring the duo, namely 1. Grrr, 2. Tok, and 3. Ahhh. (This release now completes the boxed set and is available only in limited numbers).
Several moments within 4. Hmmm bring to mind complete noise chaos, or damaged aeroplanes, like the metallic brutality which unravels in the 14-minute Grenoble no 4 / Le 102 29.04.03. Naturally, it goes without saying that this is hand wired with its share of feedback and distortion. But the results can be quite pleasant, or “relaxing” as a visiting friend pointed out, especially if you get cozy when hearing the light crackle of audio circuitry, or the occasional soothing rotations of a spinning wheel. These are turntable art masters that beautifully transform noise into percussive elements and where fresh ears are best served focusing on the subtle nuances.