Tujiko Noriko - Cr​é​puscule I & II Music Album Reviews

Tujiko Noriko - Cr​é​puscule I & II Music Album Reviews
Intimate yet cinematic, the Japanese musician’s new two-part album exchanges her colorful pop patchwork for soft, luminous ambient music of alien beauty and human warmth.

Tujiko Noriko’s music has never felt entirely of this world. From the curious tumult of early albums like Shojo Toshi and Make Me Hard, it was possible to imagine the Osaka native—since the early 2000s, a resident of the Parisian suburbs—as an intergalactic observer of earthling culture intent upon recreating the planet’s music out of radio-telescope transmissions and scraps of space junk. Tujiko professed to make pop music, yet her songs bubbled over with chaos: a hodgepodge of distorted organs, clacking typewriters, and cats’ meows, all of it suffused in digital glitches and analog grit. Her arrangements seemed governed by the logic of Saturday-morning cartoons—sticky blobs of supersaturated color unbound by gravity—and her high, breathy voice telegraphed a sense of childlike wonder. But despite her cheerful disregard for convention, there was nothing naive about her work; it was clear she knew exactly what she was doing. “I usually start out with a classic structure,” she once told an interviewer. “Melody, lyric, singing. But I almost can’t stop myself from making it a little bit strange and even uncomfortable sometimes.” Not for the sake of being difficult, she added. “I just like to experiment. I like to use a frame, but to try to shake the frame a little bit.”

More than two decades since she began recording, Tujiko’s output has slowed from the fevered pace she kept up in the 2000s; her last solo album was 2014’s My Ghost Comes Back, a cozily sentimental record wrapped in mandolin, musical saw, and other unusual acoustic timbres. Since then she has released only two titles, Kuro and Surge, both soundtracks; perhaps not coincidentally, an unmistakably cinematic influence is audible in the evocatively hushed atmospheres of her new album Crépuscule I & II. This time, Tujiko hasn’t so much shaken the frame as swapped in a whole new camera. Gone are the whimsy, the crunch, the surfeit of stimuli that once made the act of listening to her music feel like sensory overload. In their place, she has summoned an hour and 46 minutes of soft, luminous ambient music of alien beauty and human warmth.

The album is divided across two discs: roughly speaking, one of songs and another of soundscapes, although the line between those two modes is often notional. Disc 1 opens with a short, wistful instrumental that glistens like a fistful of beach glass: Tujiko’s playing is tentative, her timekeeping halting, apparently untethered to the computer’s internal clock. This ruminative mood deepens across the album as the titular twilight darkens. The next song, “The Promenade Vanishes,” prominently featuring her voice, is equally spare. Like its predecessor, it feels like a live performance, though delicate layering and other electronic effects—not to mention earth-shakingly low sub-bass—attest to digital processes carried out behind the scenes. 

Tujiko’s work was once driven by its contrasts, but here, everything blends so smoothly that determining where one track ends and another begins can require careful attention. “Fossil Words,” “Cosmic Ray,” and “Flutter” flow together across the middle portion of Disc 1, comprising a three-song suite for voice, keyboard, and silence whose hushed air and lengthy reverb suggest a halfway point between Grouper and Harold Budd. Though her melodies often feel as ephemeral as a word scratched into the sand at low tide, the songwriting here is more clearly defined than in the maze-like meandering of previous albums. And her voice has never sounded better, whether front and center or drifting like a wisp of smoke. 

Disc 2 consists of three long, amorphous tracks totaling nearly an hour. The vibe remains largely the same as on the first disc, just stretched and smeared, like paint beneath a squeegee. On “Golden Dusk,” she paints a picture of idyll in burnished synths and emotionally resonant field recordings: a children’s playground, backmasked bell tones, wind brushing against the grille of the microphone. The 24-minute “Roaming Over Land, Sea and Air” is a ballad in the guise of a nebulous tone poem, sketching the outline of a memory (“In the car park by your side/I laughed so hard/So hard I cried and fell… Over this ice/We were skating, skating”) over hazy chimes. “Don’t Worry, I’ll Be Here” is the most shapeless of the three, burying soft murmurs in dissonant, roiling dusk. A more cautious or exacting artist might have edited these pieces down to four or five minutes apiece, but Tujiko is content to let them sprawl. And though they don’t bring any new textures or emotions to the album, it hardly matters. As an invitation to linger indefinitely and wander at will across the expanse of Tujiko’s singular universe, the splintering of the frame is a welcome development.

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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.
Tujiko Noriko - Cr​é​puscule I & II Music Album Reviews Tujiko Noriko - Cr​é​puscule I & II Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on January 26, 2023 Rating: 5


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