Ryoji Ikeda - Ultratronics Music Album Reviews

Ryoji Ikeda - Ultratronics Music Album Reviews
The glitch pioneer returns with his most accessible album to date: a surprisingly colorful set that sounds like he’s DJing a retrospective of his own career. 

To step into Ryoji Ikeda’s world is to be immersed in numbers. Audiovisual installations generated through massive datasets from CERN, NASA, and the Human Genome Project bathe audiences in streams of digits, barcodes of light, and ever-shifting astronomical coordinates. Mathematical abstractions are transformed into overwhelming digital chatter as if in imitation of a computer language that we can hear but not understand. As a composer, Ikeda pioneered glitch music in the 1990s by sonifying data overload, but his technological critique belies his instinct for a good tune. Individual components of his sound, from pure sine waves to unadorned white noise, combine for surprisingly danceable moments. “I learned everything in the clubs,” he said. “Nothing intellectual, just, ‘boom boom boom.’” Ultratronics, a new set of compositions based on material recorded in the ’90s, foregrounds his songcraft over his trademark minimalism for the most accessible album of his career. 

Whereas fellow glitch originators Yasunao Tone and Oval use damaged CDs to create waves of stuttering skips, Ikeda begins with the barest fundamentals of sound. Landmark albums like 2000’s Matrix, 2005’s Dataplex, and 2008’s Test Pattern feature little more than sine waves hovering at the edge of perception, filtered 32nd-note clicks panning left and right, and blasts of white noise interrupting. Only at the end of his records would these sparse sounds gradually coalesce into proper songs. Ultratronics does away with this barrier to entry, beginning with fully realized and immediately compelling tracks. Instead of slowly building his tonal palette across the album, Ikeda gathers the main threads and loose ends of his oeuvre into a surprisingly colorful tapestry.

Ultratronics goes in directions that Ikeda has left unexplored for decades. After abandoning the use of samples on recent releases, he prominently incorporates recordings of a robotic narrator named “ULT 708X,” who “can teach you counting, reading, functions, and math problems.” In the playful highlight “Ultratronics 04,” ULT 708X tries (and fails) to count to 30, reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator,” while “Ultratronics 01” garbles its voice completely as in Autechre’s “Ccec.” A young Ikeda might have generated these sounds in imitation of his heroes in the ’90s, but now he incorporates them into his own sonic signature of crystal-clear sine tones, double-speed clicks and cuts, and bursts of dial-up noise. He sounds refreshingly loose, guiding us through his evolution as an artist with gracious humor.

Much of Ultratronics is a patchwork of genres, as if Ikeda is DJing a retrospective of his own career. The breakneck shifts may threaten the coherence of the album, but Ikeda weaves a thrilling panorama out of these various strands: a pummeling industrial beat more appropriate for Throbbing Gristle or Esplendor Geométrico on “Ultratronics 09,” his most compelling IDM since Dataplex’s “Data.Matrix” on “Ultratronics 11,” and beautiful ambience on “Ultratronics 14.” Ikeda has carved an unmistakable niche with his relentlessly minimalist, self-consciously academic meditations on data, but he also risks repetitiveness with uninterrupted years of honing his sound. With Ultratronics, he maintains his precise aesthetic but adds a much-needed sense of levity and fun. If you look closely, you might even see him crack a smile. 

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ryoji Ikeda - Ultratronics Music Album Reviews Ryoji Ikeda - Ultratronics Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on January 16, 2023 Rating: 5


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