Sawako+: Omnibus
Community Library

Given the label's Portland, Oregon base, Sawako's Omnibus EP may seem an unusual release for Community Library but, in fact, it's a less audacious move than it might seem: the '+' accompanying Sawako's name on the cover not only intimates the collaborative involvement of others but dovetails nicely with the label's 'community-without-geography' credo.

Ms. Kato, a one-time mainstay of Tokyo's art scene and current NYU graduate student, assembled a huge bank of source material (obtained from kindred spirits like Polmo Polpo, Yuichiro Fujimoto, Tu m', Yamane, Hypo, Rie, and others) which she then shaped into the ten settings of Omnibus. With only one song approaching five minutes (“Aykmin”) and the shortest a mere 8.4 seconds (“Fanfare”), getting a firm handle on Sawako's music proves difficult though it tends to favour a meandering, sometimes peaceful collage style. Throughout the disc, she intersects field noises (birds, voices) with instrument sounds, the natural elements sometimes placed at the forefront while at other times used as a backdrop for acoustic plucks and what sounds like toy piano and kalimba. With glimmering piano pulses bolstered by echoes of dubby clatter, “End Roll” offers perhaps the strongest compositional promise but its two-minute duration doesn't offer much opportunity for said potential to be realized. Sounding like someone rapidly cutting from one radio channel to another, the spasmodically twitching “Lapon” is also memorable but it too vanishes quickly. Though it features an interesting sonic mix, Omnibus would impress more had its fleeting fragments and vignettes been extended into fully-developed compositions.

October 2005