Takuji Naka: tapes, spring reverb
Tim Olive: magnetic pickups
Rec. 2013, Kyoto
Mastered by Oshiro Makoto
Cover images by Tim Olive
Original Release on EM Records, 2015
released May 13, 2020
Lucas Schleicher, Brainwashed:
Recorded near Kyoto in 2013, The New Attractive is named for a pamphlet written by Robert Norman, a 16th-century English navigator who discovered and described magnetic dip using a compass that moved vertically rather than horizontally. It’s an obscure nod to the technology that makes this music possible: namely magnetic tape and electricity. Some semblance of both appears in the music, whether it’s through the warped signal of manipulated tape, the metallic clang of spring reverb, or the even rise and fall of synthesized tones. Whatever Naka and Olive do with their equipment, the rawness of the noise and the fragility of the field recordings that briefly flicker in and out of it serve to emphasize the medium itself, and that includes the electromagnet as much as the ferric-oxide.Large sections of The New Attractive are aeriform, dispersed to the point that the co-existence of their parts feels like an accident. Some might call it ambient music and choose to focus on the way the different elements harmonize, and that’s a legitimate way of listening to this music. Naka and Olive mine the pleasures of synchronicity by allowing their materials to speak for themselves. But it’s perfectly natural to wonder what else is at play on an album like this one. Are the artists speaking through the music? Or is something being channelled through the artists, either despite them or because of their willingness? It’s as if the artists are giving us a glimpse of a much bigger picture, not because they’re creating sounds, but because they’re carefully, sometimes passionately, selecting them.
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector:
Another exceptional record of intimate, unusual, noisy improvised electro-acoustic music from Tim Olive is The New Attractive. Olive always has an uncanny flair for seeking out strong collaborators, like-minded souls with whom he can share the joy of music creation, and on all such endeavours I’ve heard there is always refreshing lack of ego, none of the conceitedness and bombast you might get with some of the big names of the avant-festival circuits and their promiscuous groupings. Here is an uncanny blend of Olive playing his magnetic pickups, and Naka playing a spring reverb device and selections from his library of cassette tapes. What he does with these tapes is fascinating…low-key, understated fragments of documentary sound are deployed with the sensitivity of a water-colour miniaturist, carefully and sensitively exploring tones and timbres. I like the printed description on the obi, which alludes to “out-of-date sound sources”; a phrase which might refer to the cassette player itself, a machine some regard as near-obsolescent. What we hear in these five episodes are exciting and tense tangles and knots, tiny battles where the gentle tape drift is pitched against the tide of the near-brutal grunts and slams produced by pickups and the spring reverb, generating wayward and juicy feedback eruptions. Incidentally it’s great to see Tim Olive continue his quest to “deconstruct” the electric guitar, if that is indeed what he’s doing; he’s eliminated the strings, neck and body and got it down to just the pickups, so what will he jettison next?
The release is decorated with cartographic speculative sleeve art by Olive, and arrives with a thoughtful sleeve note by the writer and musicologist Yu Wakao. His take on the much-discussed history of “noise music” is one of the most refreshing I’ve read, full of useful questions and speculations instead of the aggressive assertions we usually get from self-appointed experts in this area. He also mentions the 16thcentury scientific tract on magnetism from which this release takes its name. Very high recommendation for this beautiful piece of forward-looking, inventive and unusual noise.
Note: All shipments to North America, France, Germany and UK are temporarily surface mail only, with an estimated delivery time of 6-8 weeks. Slow but inexpensive. I'll include a little bonus goodie with each order.