“Two Novels: Gaze / In the Cochlea” reviewed by Paris Transatlantic

There’s a Quicktime movie on Two Novels too, an evocative hand-held camera night ride on the BMT Jamaica elevated subway. Brooklyn-based o.blaat, real name Keiko Uenishi, is best known for her interactive audio environments (including the reasonably self-explanatory “beat piece (with Ping-Pong game)” and “audio coat check”) but has laptopped her way throughout North America and Europe in the company of, to name but a few, Kaffe Matthews, Toshio Kajiwara, DJ Olive, Aki Onda, Akio Mokuno, Ikue Mori and Eyvind Kang. These seven make cameo appearances in the nine-movement “Gaze”, a varied and inventive survey of the electronica landscape, from field recordings to the cut’n’splice of “egg salad sandwich” (as chopped up and scrambled as its title suggests), from de rigueur crackles and crunches to booming drones and explosions of vicious noise. All very listenable, even if it is hard to detect Uenishi’s own personal signature. That said, stylistic plurality has long been a hallmark of the so-called Downtown scene; Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins and Marina Rosenfeld are just as eclectic. “In the Cochlea”, the second so-called novel, is, as its title suggests, more intimate. In fact, it’s best appreciated on headphones, though if you think that means you’re in for nice long stretch of onkyo pianissimo, you haven’t heard “eight-o” yet, heh heh. Though there are plenty examples of par-for-the-course low-volume whispers, crackles and whooses (“miminohome”), Uneishi does come up with some real and very beautiful surprises. “nightvision” is particularly haunting. Like the video.


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