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Katsura Mouri & Tim Olive: Various Histories

John Eyles By

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For the second release on his own 845 Audio label—following his impressive 33 Bays pairing with Alfredo Costa Monteiro—Tim Olive debuts his established duo with turntablist Katsura Mouri, whose history includes being a member of the experimental improvising turntable unit BusRatch with Takahiro Yamamoto. Various Histories was recorded near Kyoto (where Mouri is the manager of Parallax, the record shop around which BusRatch was formed) on a sweltering hot day in August 2010, in a space without air-conditioning. The recording captured what was played by the two in real time, untreated and unaltered, but subsequently Mouri contributed a number of edits to several of the pieces and mixed them. The end result consists of five untitled tracks with playing times varying from under two to over fifteen minutes, their total running time approaching thirty-five minutes.

Despite Olive's background playing bass guitar and guitar, here he is credited with pickups and metal and, sure enough, "metallic" is an apt description of much of this music. The album has few traces of recognisable instrumental sounds; instead it features a vast array of electro-acoustic sounds, recorded in extreme close-up that reveals their every detail so that there is no way to ignore them. Unlike many eai recordings, the sounds on Various Histories are in your face throughout, and do not readily blend into the wash of ambient sounds with which we all co-exist on a daily basis. That closeness can frequently be oppressive—maybe mirroring the extreme climatic conditions in which it was recorded.

It is significant that both Mouri and Olive are experienced duo players—she in BusRatch and he in many collaborations—as those histories are clearly evident in their interactions. As a twosome they display an uncanny awareness of each other's intentions that verges on instinctive. Yes, Mouri's edits and mixing may have selected their most successful passages of play and accentuated the positive but, time and again, the two fit together hand in glove; when one of them is laying down a continuous, unchanging passage, the other interjects enough occasional contrasting sounds to keep the totality fresh and interesting... and then they swap roles seamlessly. The most impressive track is the longest, the fifteen-minute closer, on which they build up mesmerising ebb and flow between them; it would deserve to be called a drone were it not for the amount of detail it contains, both on the surface and below it—not music that can simply "be there" but that constantly commands attention. If Mouri and Olive record together again—as we must hope, on this showing—longer durations seem a promising avenue for exploration.

Track Listing: (Five untitled tracks) 3’ 47”; 4’ 04”; 1’ 45”; 9’ 25”; 15’ 20”.

Personnel: Katsoura Mouri: turntables, edits, mix; Tim Olive: pickups, metals.

Title: Various Histories | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: 845 Audio

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