VA: Muting the Noise

Muting The Noise invites being characterized as Innervisions' version of Kompakt's Pop Ambient. In both cases, individual producers contribute tastefully restrained and elegantly crafted compositions designed to induce contemplation. But the similarities remain surface-level at best as Muting The Noise eschews glitchy textures, emphasizes acoustic sounds as much as electronic, and allows for greater compositional development than is typically the case in the static Pop Ambient pieces. In short, the focus is less on time-suspension and more on peaceful quietude.

The project came about when Innervisions personnel were in Tokyo and noticed the sense of calm and quiet that reigned despite the ubiquity of people and cars (the recent disappearance of chill-out spaces from dance club settings provided another impetus). Much of the eighty-seven-minute collection's material likewise teems with activity yet retains an aura of calm, and in some individual cases a distinct exotic character emerges (e.g., the intricate weave of strings, keyboards, and mallet instruments in Karma's ponderous clockwork setting “Kon Tiki” and Stefan Goldmann's funereal gamelan meditation “Life After Death”). Contributions by Mark Pritchard & David Brinkworth (“Sentience”) and Tokyo Black Star (“Kagura”) feature whooshes and patterns reminiscent of Tangerine Dream, while fellow pioneer Klaus Schulze ends the release with eighteen minutes of synthesizer ebb and flow coloured by the occasional warble of an opera vocalist (“Invisible Musik”). I:Cube (Nicolas Chaix) adds a pulsating flow of wordless exhalations and bubbly synth iridescence (“Nuées Ardentes”), Henrik Schwarz a lightly swinging and spirited gamelan-inflected setting of interwoven piano and synth elements (“Arthur”), and Kammerflimmer Kollektief and Terre Thaemlitz appear too (though the latter's “Get In and Drive” was created in 1994). Perhaps the set's loveliest moment arrives late in the form of “Negai,” an entrancing setting of piano and synths by Koss (Kuniyuki Takahashi) that's so unassuming it risks being overlooked.

June 2008