morphogenesis discogs resonance

Akemi Ishijima

Jewel case mini CD with card insert

Includes postage - for multiple items I will refund the excess



•   Time drops  (5:20)
•   Ab ovo  (13:48) mp3

total time 19:08

Cover by Jude James
Released 2000

This mini CD follows on from her previous electroacoustic composition on 'Variations 2 - a London compilation' Paradigm Discs (PD 05). It includes one new piece and a reissue of 'Ab Ovo', previously released on '5 composers second coming' Fylkingen (FYCD 1003). The 2 pieces explore a broad range of traditional electronic techniques, both subtle and powerful. Time Drops (2000). A single stroke of a bell, in its decay, sometimes evokes a sense of infinity in our mind. Time Drops is an attempt to express such ideas as infinity, cosmic equilibrium, and moments of creation in the form of electroacoustic music. Like rain drops making rings in water, the sound generates rings of oscillation, which create parallel universes and coexisting ones. As each sound appears and disappears, the perpetual process of creation and decline in the cosmic equilibrium is experienced in the presence and non-presence of multiple resonance. A mystery still remains around the question of how it all began.Time Drops creates a poetic correspondence with cosmic harmony. Ab Ovo (1993). I once saw, in a science film, a pendulum placed in a peculiar type of magnetic field. It kept swinging in different directions for a while until it stopped at a non-perpendicular position. I was fascinated. I started imagining and creating electroacoustic sketches associated with this image, for example a tiny air vibration caused by the passage of a pendulum etc. Reflection upon two major aspects of the motion of the pendulum - periodicity, and the effect of interfering force - brought in another sound source eg. an egg. When I heard the amplified sound of an egg breaking in the studio, the composition magically came together. The piece starts with a rather striking impact of breaking an egg. This initiates the whole journey through the imaginary sound world circling around eternity and the inevitable point of disruption in a figure of eight. Composed at the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia, England, 1993.


The EP Time Drops contains two strong electroacoustic pieces by Akemi Ishijima. The title track uses all kinds of bells and metallic bowls, along with wood blocks to create drop-like sounds. It serves as a nice introduction to 'Ab Ovo' the pièce de résitance, both in terms of length and interest. Made of musique concrete sounds (except for the opening and closing egg-cracking noises), it alternates between static and troubled sections, building into a sudden climax about two-thirds in. Although simple in appearance, it captivates the attention the way Pierre Henry's or Gilles Gobeil's works do. Time Drops makes a short but convincing set. (François Couture)

A bit insubstantial (length wise) for a full-size CD, I suppose this is a case of musical content being more important than anything else. Well, at least it's cheaper than a full CD, although I bet production costs would have been the same! The opening Time Drops is 5'20" of well crafted percussives (I guess) edited and processed in some sort of musical software. Using bell tones, with added effects and processing, the results remind considerably of Fran?ois Bayle's similar work with percussive tonalities. Yet, unlike Bayle, no climax or resolve is attempted here, it just exists and moves as a carefully arranged array of sonic clusters. Much more substantial, the rest of the disc is the 1993 work Ab Ovo, which is even more electroacoustic and even harder to define sonically. With excellent use of subtle ring modulation and reverb, the tonalities and compositional structure add up to a fascinating work involving crystalline tones, with fragile glides, shimmers and the occasional recognisable bell-like metallic chimes. The climax in the final 3 minutes is awe-inspiring, as it swells into an organic churning slab of sound. In all, a fascinating release, but all too brief an experience really. (Alan Freeman)

AUF ABWEGEN 31 (translated)
These 2 wonderful pieces by the Japanese composer Akemi Ishijima were composed at the electroacoustic music studio of the University of East Anglia, England and it is a scandal that they only now see the light of day. One piece (Ab Ovo) we certainly know about already from the Swedish compilation 5 Composers Second Coming (Fylkingen). Time Drops manipulates a single bell strike and uses not only traditional working methods of electroacoustics (speed, pitch, tape direction), but takes into account the natural ups and downs of the sound in the dynamics. In a confusing way the bell sometimes immitates the sound of water. (Zipo)

In the worlds of the outer spheres, as in the worlds of Akemi Ishijima's 'Time Drops' CD EP, the solemn intonatioons of bells relate to one another at their own speed and with their own syntax. In a place without grime and soot, their peals readily invert, their profundities comingle with their frivolities and arrested attacks, and modulated reinterpretations calmly slide through timeless space. Without dirt and decay, all earthen percussives are also equal parts fire, water and air;whispers and groans unfettered by terrestrial demands pour forth without sordid and base designs. (Alesandro Moreschi III)

Short but satisfying debut EP-length release from this London-based Japanese sound artist. The 5-minute 'Time Drops' is an all-too-brief gem in which various hollow objects are struck and tapped, their resonances and echoes delicately teased out in a meditatively Zen-like exercise. The 14-minute 'Ab Ovo' (originally released on a Flykingen compilation in the early '90s), which begins and ends with the sound of an egg being broken, inhabits more traditionally electroacoustic territory. it's based on a memory Ishijima had of an image from an old sci-fi movie of a pendulum in a magnetic field swinging in strange directions. The flow of the piece is consequently at once unpredictable - repeatedly veering off in unexpected directions - and coherently logical, bubbling, liquid electronics segueing into tempestuous swellings, culminating in a dramatic, churning climax. (Nick Cain)

A short but substantial and completely satisfying burst of electro-acoustic composition from this modern Japanese artist. Title work from year 2000 is minimal percussion bowls a-striking, and calling the devout Buddhist to prayer. It's quiet and meditative, and would best suit an undisturbed concentrated listen at 6AM on some warm summer's morn. The earlier work 'Ab Ovo' from 1993 contains more startling treatments of sound. It sparkles, rings and echoes like a slow-motion catherine wheel. In places it veers a tad too close to Empreintes Digitales area for my liking, frequently deploying that fine 'watery' effect that resembles an electronic whirlpool, which while enjoyable, has grown almost over-familiar. Well, to regular listeners of electronic music it has. I almost find my attention drifting away at times. However the closing three minutes of 'Ab Ovo' remain triumphant as the piece gathers momentum and suddenly accretes infinite layers of extremely loud and extremely dense sound. A fitting music for Judgement Day, as it might be. So this is what Gabriel's trumpets will sound like, mingled with the roaring of the damned souls being loosed from Hell as Christ knocks at the iron gates. To decorate this package, Clive 'Mr Paradigm' Graham has selected and reproduced two very fitting 'egg' images by Jude James for our visual pleasure. The front cover is a tempera egg painting - what neat conceptual unity! (Ed Pinsent)

Despite the long text on the CD, there is very little information on the composer. The first piece on this mini CD was released before on the '5 Composers Second Coming' by Fylkingen (which I am sure is still available). In 'Time Drops' the sounds of a bell being struck is being transformed by traditional electro-acoustic techniques. Various layers gradually take over the original sound and are replaced with electronic sounds. In 'Ab Ovo', the previously released piece here, the sound works like a pendulum, it swings back and forth. In the light of the title of this piece it's not surprising to hear that the breaking on an egg starts the piece out. Both pieces are rather traditional, serious electronic pieces than the result of new digital techniques. I don't understand why this deserves a release of it's own, since the new piece lasts five minutes. Why not a mini CD of entirely new material, or a full length with 'Ab Ovo' as a bonus. This leaves me puzzled on an otherwise ok release. (FdW)

The WIRE (Jan 2001)
Effective electroacoustic requires that the composer negotiate a fine line between the intellectual pleasures stimulated by the sounds, and the purely sensual experience of listening to them. At its best, the two are in perfect balance: the mind delighting in the developing narrative or connections revealed by disparate sound sources, the senses revelling in unexplored micro worlds. It's a difficult trick to pull off, but UK based Japanese sound artist Akemi Ishijima mostly accomplishes it with grace, wit and delicacy. The two pieces here display a fascination with time. The older and longer of the two, Ab Ovo (1993), was inspired by a science fiction image of a pendulum swinging in a multidimensional magnetic field. Ishijima registers the periodicity of the pendulum with lengthy peaks and troughs of electronic sound, taking delight in distorting the regular pulse by the addition of outside forces. While the level of detail is engaging and the piece flows intriguingly, there is the slightest whiff of an academic exercise. Ishijima saves herself with one real flash of non-sequential inspiration, though. By including the amplified sound of an egg breaking, she drags up from the subconscious a wealth of imagery. Creation, time, infinity and multiple discrete universes merge in a satori flash. It's the five minute opener, Time Drops, that provides the most stunning example of Ishijima's skill. Composed for an installation with lighting designer Jude James earlier this year, the piece explores the infinite cosmic equilibrium and timelessness within time. The toll of a bell stands for impermanence, mutability and death in most cultures, from Hemmingway to 'The tale of the Heike'. Here however, Ishijima uses that slow decay to set off concentric rings of oscillation - shimmering sleighbells, drops of water creating ripples. Sound decay no longer mirrors our single decaying life, rather it suggests the eternally spreading echoes of our existence. It's a gorgeously sparse and poetic blend of sound and philosophy. (Alan Cummings)

back to top