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ARTIST
TITLE
Insen
FORMAT
CD

LABEL
CATALOG #
R-N 065CD R-N 065CD
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
6/8/2010

2016 repress. Originally released in 2005, this is a re-press of Insen by Alva Noto (aka Carsten Nicolai) and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Their debut album Vrioon (R-N 050CD) released on Raster-Noton in 2003 was voted "Record Of The Year, 2004" in the electronica category by The Wire, and particular interest was shown in Nicolai's creation of a new synergy of acoustic piano and digital post-production that had not been witnessed before, in his approach and interpretation of Sakamoto's piano clusters. The strict splitting of the composition process on Insen (piano: Sakamoto; production and additional sounds: Nicolai) reminds one of the debut album. However, this record carries a kind of "transcendental aura" of an early morning meditative exercise, but at the same time avoids the field of new age philosophy. Enriched by new elements, this "high-tech meditation" follows a consistent line. On Vrioon, Nicolai's typical sinus sounds counterbalanced Sakamoto's piano accords. On Insen, Nicolai works directly with the piano sounds. He dismantles Sakamoto's recordings with a "surgeon-like precision" into micro-loops, into its atomic elements. Starting with these atoms of sound, he creates a new basis for form, compressing floating, rotating rhythm with harmonic sequences, with melodic counterpoints, and laying it underneath the piano tracks. This makes Insen appear more of a complex experience, although the time-stretched flow, or even the clear lines of the piano stay untouched. From the sleeve notes one can learn that the album was a dedication to certain people. Created far away from these people, Insen might be a kind of dialog. It definitely represents a diary of a stay over several months at Leon Feuchtwanger's Villa Aurora, where a large part of the production as well as the final mixes were completed. The themes and the track titles directly refer to that place, to the times of the day, and the events there. Even the colors of the album cover reference the emotions and atmospheres experienced at Villa Aurora. Only the track "Berlin" was recorded later, with Nicolai and Sakamoto together, during a session at Nicolai's studio in Berlin. As a reference to that place, one can hear a flock of birds singing in the background of the recording. "Aveol" closes the album also seen as a diary, with a mysterious beauty. The evolution of piano recording and digital post-production were pushed the furthest on this track. The combination reached its (temporary) final point.