By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
To the contemporary listener, textural music has fewer familiar elements than, say, Satie’s piano pieces, but it also might seem less insistently “other” than its more immediate precursors. Does textural music seem as strange today as it did in the mid-1970s? We’ve come a long way since 1975, when Brian Eno released Discreet Music (an excellent influence) and Lou Reed made Metal Machine Music(recently reissued, it’s a far less distinguished antecedent). Back then, artists interested in ambience had few precedents to point to. You might name-drop early Minimalists like La Monte Young or Terry Riley and say you’d been influenced by the Balinese gamelan or the Master Musicians of Jajouka. You’d then watch your record sales dip precipitously, and cross your fingers that your fan base was loyal enough that they’d be there for you when you came back to your senses, knocked out a few pop tunes and became a viable artist again.
Today, it’s harder to sound revolutionary spouting on about atmosphere. This is the inevitable result of having peers. Having your market segment given the stamp of approval by a chart-topping alt-rock brand name also helps. Yes, with some reluctance, I think you could throw Radiohead’s damn good, pop-inflected piss-take on ambient music, Kid A, into this mix. So all of Reed’s and Eno’s whining, buzzing, ahhing, chirping and rhetoric did lead to something.
As yet, Tsuyuko’s music has lasted me longer than that of her more popular contemporaries, because 1) I’ve yet to untie her tangle of thoughts, and 2) her music makes it impossible to figure out if there is, in fact, anything there to figure out. Like Satie’s, her music pulls the neat trick of embracing both mentation and stasis. (No, she doesn’t quite have his melodies.) Ongakushitsu is enlivened by a rococo economy that, in my experience, is unique. And, like Satie’s, her work is able to achieve so much because it deflates ambitious claims and puts on no airs. It just is. Like a rug in a room.
I ask Tsuyuko who listens to her music. Has she sold many records in the States? Does she have a sizable following at home? (It’s not outside the realm of possibility; her friend Takemura is signed to a major label in Japan.)
“I do not know how well,” she writes. “But I am glad that such a private music is accepted.”
AKI TSUYUKO | Ongakushitsu | (Childisc)