steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Yoko Sato

"Searching For My Recording Engineer" CD

Public Eyesore

Genres: experimental guitar improvisations, noise

Bryan Day / PE
3803 S 25th St.
Omaha, NE 68107

Oct 21 - 27 2002

Experimental guitar improvisations tend to appeal only to a select few, an elite group that I am thankfully a part of. Having avidly listened to everything from Thurston Moore's grating solo work to Noumena's underground axe rumblings, I feel that vicious, sometimes strident guitar-abusing is one of the most emotional forms of music around. And Yoko Sato, thankfully, has gotten it down to a science.

Searching For My Recording Engineer consists of four tracks - "Guitar Improvisation One," "Guitar Improvisation Two," "Guitar and Voice Improvisation," and "Guitar Improvisation Three." You know exactly what you're getting.

First on the block is the nine-minute first track. Starting off with ringing feedback, the track breaks into metallic noise and begins to swirl through layers upon layers of effect-laden mindfuck until your brain can no longer take it. The true beauty of the piece, though, lies in how well Yoko Sato keeps everything together. While the untrained ear may only hear cacophony, a properly-tuned listener will feel the bounds of Yoko's framework, and will notice a deeply buried melody amidst all the feedback. Near the end of the track, Yoko ups the tension by jumping up a few octaves. The effect is mesmerizing.

The second track is completely different. While the first piece was relatively restrained and gradual, number two just pulls out all the stops. Yoko's guitar is just completely ripped to shreds. The guitar strings are completely tortured, being dashed to pieces in a frenetic flurry of destructive ire. Listening to it is like getting stuck in an electric hailstorm. While one may feel as though this suffers from a lack of structure, Yoko is obviously trying to destroy boundaries with this piece.

The third track adds voice to the mix, and in turn becomes the album's most potent moment. While the guitars are toned down here, so as to make way for the vocals, this does not detract from their power. The instrumentation is still disturbingly dark and cacophonous. But the piece's true power lies in the haunting yells and screams bellowed by Yoko. Mysterious and dark, she sings as if it's the apocalypse. And despite the improvised nature of this, there is a definite melodic correlation between the guitars and the vocals - something that sounds both incidental and intentional at once. This is what you would play in those carnival haunted houses if you wanted to give all the thrill-seeking children nightmares for the rest of their lives.

The last track is similar to the second, except with a heavier use of pedal effects. It hits you like a barrage of bullets and finishes the album off appropriately.

Altogether, Yoko Sato's Searching For My Recording Engineer is an essential electric guitar improvisation album. If you ever feel as if you'd like to be shot into an inferno of grinding guitar chaos, look no further.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 35 min 26 sec, 4 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2002]