Nobukazu Takemura's American debut finds him leaning heavily on micro-level signal processing to get in touch with his experimental side. Takemura's stewardship of his Childisc label reflects an obsession with wide-eyed innocence and simplicity, but the challenging Scope focuses on the dense and opaque extreme. "Taw" is an exercise in sound for sound's sake, a seemingly random stream of squelches, digital grunts and whirrs, and its unapologetic abstraction brings to mind theory-headed laptop purists like Farmer's Manual and Pita. The meandering "On a Balloon" is slightly less difficult, as Takemura stretches sampled bells like taffy, alternating drifting drones with explosive cut-ups. "Icefall" pushes organ melodies through the "broken transmission," skipping-CD motif popularized by Oval to particularly striking effect, conjuring images of flashing lights refracted through crystal. "Kepler" is both the emotional high point and the most derivative track, marrying the heavily repetitious bells, vibraphone, and organ of early '70s minimalists Philip Glass and Steve Reich to the glitch-laden voice of collaborator Aki Tsuyuko. Takemura has always been more concerned with integration than innovation, and on Scope he pushes established ideas in some interesting directions.
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