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Rice Field Silently Riping In The Night

PD 002 PD 002

"There are times when all the music your bruised psyche can take is the softest of whispers, the slightest of instrumental caresses. When an ounce too much pressure could make your veins cave inwards. At times like these, Reiko Kudo's previous solo album (Fire Inside My Hat, Org Records, 1997) has always been my balm of choice. A gauze-thin collection of songs with minimal piano accompaniment, sung in a voice half between a child and a deeply hesitant angel... For those who would rather trust a history lesson than their own senses, Reiko Omura, as she was known then, first came to light on the Tokyo underground in the late seventies and early eighties. She was part of the Minor circle (which also gave birth to Fushitsusha, High Rise, Kosokuya, Gaseneta and many others) of musical obsessives exploring new and highly personal collisions of noise, improv, rock. Reiko's contribution was via groups like Worst Noise and Noise. The latter's sole release, Tenno, saw her trumpet and voice meeting the Bach-doom organ and drums of influential scenester Tori Kudo in a totally unique monument to no-wave noise depression. She later married Kudo, appearing occasionally with his avant-pop Christo-mystic idiot-savant group Maher Shalal Hash Baz, but releasing nothing under her own name until the Org disk in the late nineties. Rice Field... sees Reiko revisiting the pattern of short songs mostly based around one-finger piano motifs, so structurally simple as to be virtually transparent. This time additional flashes of sensitive instrumental colour are added by husband Tori and various members of the Puka-Puka Brians on wavering backing vocals, violin, guitar, percussion, euphonium and percussion. The music treads a sure and private path between a perfect childlike naivete and the amateur aesthetic that has long been Tori's goal (he has spent twenty years arriving at a point of psychedelic mastery where he sounds like he bought his first guitar yesterday). Reiko's songs and vocals are the weakly pulsing centrepoint though. She sings of life, dying flowers, love, and nursing home residents with the unforced naturalness of a mother alone with her child, a bird in the forest, her pellucid melodies seemingly accidental. It is nothing short of heart-stoppingly gorgeous. And as an honest-to-god example of happiness glimpsed through the quotidian, artistic perfection all the more perfect for not being striven for, you couldn't wish for anything more. A perfect prescription for those moments of fragility when you doubt your own pulse." -- Alan Cummings