September 11, 2009

Ghosts On Water - Senshu (2005/8, Faraway Press)

Ghosts On Water is a project between Andrew Chalk, who runs the Faraway Press label in the UK, Daisuke Suzuki, boss of the "industrial"/experimental Siren label in Tokyo, and his wife, Naoko Suzuki. Chalk is one of the masterminds behind the amazing Mirror, and has been releasing solo and collaborative material since the '80s. Daisuke Suzuki is a drone and field-recording artist who has been recording since the late '90s, with a debut appearance on a single-sided 7" in collaboration with David Jackman and Michael Prime, followed by releases every year or so, mainly in Japan. The trio's first CD was "The Days After", released in '03 on Chalk's in-house Three Poplars label, and was Chalk's first collaborative project since his work with Christoph Heemann as Mirror. Earlier this year, I became aware of Chalk's new Faraway Press label, and noted that several new CDs had been made available for mailorder. All of the Faraway Press releases are hand-made, with extremely high-quality cardboard gatefold cases, hand-painted/stamped covers and inserts, obi-strips and plastic sleeves, and limited to a few hundred copies. "Senshu" was originally released in a tiny edition of 100 in '05, but was re-issued in '08 in an additional 250 copies and is still available. The CD itself is an awe-inspiring work of drone minimalism and acoustic textures, with soft melodic guitar patterns creating a hazy atmosphere of bell-like tones on the opening track "Ukigiri", followed by "Koyurugi", a slow crescendo of meditative, bowed-metal-sounding drones, ending with the subdued climax of "Untan", a blend of plucked notes that sounds like a koto, and blurry clouds of organic drone textures and field recordings. All of the titles and liner notes on the CD are written in Japanese, but I found a translation here. The evocative titles actually give the pieces even more depth. The whole package makes "Senshu" a very personal-feeling piece of artwork, and I look forward to hearing more of Ghosts On Water's new material.