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Ryoji Ikeda – Supercodex


Ryoji Ikeda - SupercodexRyoji Ikeda is perhaps best known for his mastery of the ultra-minimal, for harnessing  digital drones, glimmers and glitches to make unfolding sounds take seemingly apparent form in glacial patterns of space-filling lightness, of sounds so subtle as to only be noticeable when they have gone. When placed in the context of installations as found in galleries worldwide (his contribution of pure sine waves combined with stark brightness as experienced through shining tunnel of sound and light at the Sonic Boom group show at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2000 was exquisite) and recently in the dormant TWA Flight Center at JFK airport near New York – or as found in tandem with compellingly-minimal videos like the remarkable Formula  – his work can provide a hauntingly immersive addition to any environment, built or perceived.

Supercodex is the third and last part of Ikeda’s Raster-Noton trilogy, and draws on sound sources from the previous two records (Dataplex from 2005 and Test Pattern from 2008) as well as from his art installations; but settling down to listen, the origins lose their importance as the sounds take over. Sometimes jarring waves of interrupted bass and liquid skitters spray out in a digital scrawl which sweeps from Pan Sonic-style judder to the glitchiest of aleatory stutters. Shove this album through any of the myriad visualisation packages available for software media players and the effect can be staggeringly all over the place, tendrils of light responding to the interplay of brittle warp and percussive weft which Ikeda deploys playfully at the junction between inhuman sound and listener response.

None of which should give the impression that Supercodex is an ambient album – it could possibly be listened to that way, but the energy levels, the twists, turns and occasionally startling jump-cuts Ikeda conjures here leave little time for drifting and relaxing. Instead, the listener could likely find themselves uncomfortably twisting and twitching reflexively in place, unable to dance – though this would be entertaining to watch, or maybe even try – with visions of all the digital world’s huge flow of data coursing through the speakers in audio form; that’s what Supercodex frequently sounds like: being tapped directly into the grid.

-Linus Tossio-

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