Sabi/Kiyo – 71:36

01/09/2011 § Leave a comment

This split release between Japanese ambient artists Sabi and IDM/glitch master Kiyo actually comes in at exactly 71:31, meaning you have an extra five phantom seconds all to yourself before, after or somewhere during this album to fill with what you choose. It’s most likely that you’ll want to use the space for some mode of contemplation which is, after all, what the sounds here are set to inspire. Sabi, known for his living, breathing ambient works, takes the first half of the album, filling it with a hollow, translucent, glistening feel of pure fluid ambience, utilising minimal piano and string samples to perfect effect, whereas Kiyo almost offsets the second half with a more upbeat, energised assortment of IDM and glitch. It’s a union which work on paper, but aurally it feels a little jarring.

71:36 is a re-release by Force Intel of the original 2008 album through Phaseworks, and sees newer and much improved artwork stamping its theme on the music. Force Intel describe the album as “a work of intricate natural beauty” which, for once, is a pretty accurate synopsis. There is something highly organic about this music, highly vibrant, Sabi’s work in particular carrying a unique cold purity, shimmering and pulsating with the life-breath of the natural realm. Kabi’s work in glitch has a slightly more convulsive feel, a rekindling of the agitation of the manufactured modern world from which Sabi has let us escape. In a way, Sabi exploits and explores the bare ethereal consciousness of nature, whereas Kabi forces us into the confused, hexing complexity of more contemporary pacing. It’s a shocking reminder, and an abrasive concept to gel with after the airy, cleansing sensations of Sabi’s work.

If anything, this is music concerning space. The space to move around, the space to move into, the space to exist, the space between events and the space that creates freedom, the mother of form. There is as much concentration on the effectiveness and importance of the microcosma between passages, between notes and between feelings as those feelings themselves, and how we can experience so much when doing so little. Space creates stillness after all, and most of the time in 71:36 the feeling of stillness is very much prevalent, whether it be transmitted by the repetitive but beautiful piano discords in “Howling Out With Tight Neons” and “Om” or the flowing, meandering orchestral minimalism of “Sleepy Emerald Vs. He Ostrich”. Sabi’s music does away with the fake humanism of the majority of modern ambience and replaces and regresses it with the song within nature, brought to the fore rightfully once again.

The transference into Kiyo’s second half of the album is subtly done. Kiyo mimics and respects the ambience of Sabi in “Tones on Tail” and gradually, playfully contorts them into his own. From here we see a quickening and a dividing of processes and ingredients and what was once a pure, linear musical trajectory becomes more outward, more scattered and disordered, running away with itself but not really knowing what it’s running to. It feels like controlled chaos, a pulled punch, a frustration, a half-truth. Kabi’s glitchwork is subtle at first, and as the album seasons we have lost all sense of the natural and are deeply lost in the synthetic. “Bear In. Warm-Noiz” is the best example of this, being a piecemeal pastiche of low-grade machine noise, seemingly random melodies and confused cadence. “Noor” refuses to pull us back, burying us deeply into a wayward, blustery electronic static before cutting itself dead.

In spite of the dual aspects of 71:36, it still feels like a whole entity. Sabi’s and Kiyo’s musical styles flow into one another but they do not represent each other or even consolidate. Maybe this is not so much about space but the loss of space and the realisation that we can only see what we have wasted after it’s gone. It’s for this reason that Kiyo refuses to pull us back into the dreamlike trance of ambience through we we started: once some things are lost they are lost forever, not everything can be returned. Sabi’s and Kiyo’s endeavours aren’t a natural pairing so much as an arranged marriage, highlighting the need for true partnerships and disowning the import of force. 71:36′s message is more important than its execution – the beauty of living and the beauty of sound and space are naturally existent, not created. We can’t always improve things by manipulation.

Rating: 3.5/5

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