Fourcolor: Air Curtain

Air Curtain is Keiichi Sugimoto's (member of electroacoustic quartet Minamo and one-half of electronic duo Fonica) follow-up to his Fourcolor debut Water Mirror (Apestaartje). While ambient and drone elements recur throughout its seven tracks, strong stylistic contrasts distinguish Air Curtain's content. Exceptional pieces bookend the album. In the beautifully controlled opener “Curves of Air,” lapping streams of gentle strums slowly ripple amidst faint clicking patterns, while the dreamy, melancholic “Empty Sky 2” ends the recording gloriously. At its start, crystalline tones flicker like wind chimes which Sugimoto counters with lower-pitched sounds that simulate the crackling embers of a dying fire. A middle level of guitar ripples, warm organ tones, and percussive rattlings is then added to these two tiers. It's Sugimoto's masterful handling of construction and sequencing in “Empty Sky 2” that impresses most of all. “Empty Sky 1,” an oasis of soft shimmer, gentle tinkles, and bucolic murmurings, is effective too although it eschews the narrative development of its partner.

In contrast to these more tranquil pieces, noisier elements emerge in the central tracks. “2 Strings” pursues a slightly more aggressive sound by interspersing raw guitar fuzz with hazy scurrying and static noise. With its droning machine rhythm, “As Rain” exudes an industrial aura, although Sugimoto offsets it with punctuations of bright flares. The meditative “Cloud Whereabouts” veers closest to drone territory, while the unpredictable staccato bursts of clicks and surges in “AE” render it more mercurial. As so much of Fourcolor's sound is generated by guitar, it calls to mind Christopher Willits' Pollen yet Air Curtain encompasses broader stylistic and sonic terrain. Taylor Deupree's 12k is the perfect home for Sugimoto's picturesque and tactile work as Air Curtain is as meticulously crafted as a Japanese garden.

October 2004