LINE (LINE_085) | 47’52” | Digital | Unlimited Edition | February 10, 2017
Totally immersive, spectral gamelan minimalism operating at the limits of perception. Imagine the intro to Photek’s Ni – Ten – Ichi – Ryu frozen and zoomed in x 100. We recommend you dive in deep… — boomkat.com
“Zen does not follow the routine of reasoning, and does not mind contradicting itself or being inconsistent”
—Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō
Ichinen (Japanese 一念) is the follow-up to Fabio Perletta’s 2016 work Genkai, released by LINE imprint, and perhaps his most narrative album in material concept and sound. Where Genkai found itself exploring the limit as a compositional rule, Ichinen follows similar paths but in a more immersive, intimate and mysterious way, drawing inspiration from a trip in Japan in 2015 and a book of Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō titled Living by Zen.
The two kanji of the title, 一 (one) and 念 (thought), refer to the shortest possible unit of time as a principle of Zen practice that Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō describes in Living by Zen, or more precisely the time occupied by a single thought. Time represents an instant or “absolute present”, “a point of time which has neither the past nor the future […], that it is to say ichinen is where eternity cuts into time”. It exactly corresponds to what it’s known as Satori, which “takes place when consciousness realizes a state of one thought”.
Ichinen investigates the notion of presence in a re-defined territory of sonic experience. Incorporating sounds from Japanese traditional objects found in common and sacred locations, Perletta explores the complexity of emotional states experienced before, during and after a very long awaited trip. The work thus aims to re-construct fragmented expectations and memories here framed in a still and timeless auditory field, which fuses together and transcends dimensions of time and space.
Arranged in three pieces, each one having distinct movements that drift from one into another, Ichinen is mainly based on various recordings collected in Tokyo, Takayama and Kyoto, subsequently processed using computer.
Fabio Perletta: computer, digital and irreversible sound processing, feedbacks, field recordings, magnetic tape.
Created March 2015-December 2016
Recording Locations: Nanzen-ji, Ryōan-ji, Shirakumo-jinja, Yachiyo ryokan (Kyōto); Higashiyama Yūhodō, Kaiseki dinner and Onsen at Hida Futari Shizuka Hakuun ryokan (Takayama); Meiji-jingu, Oriental Bazaar in Harajuku Omotesandō (Tōkyō).
Photo: Meiji-jingu, Tokyo, March 2015 by Fabio Perletta.
A special thanks to: Rossella Angelozzi, Lorenzo Balloni, Richard Chartier & LINE, France Jobin, Marco Marzuoli, Rossano Polidoro, Marco Segabinazzi & Kohlhaas, Gianclaudio H. Moniri, Daniele Antezza, Luigi Turra.
The 一 (one) and 念 (thought) in the title refer to the shortest possible unit of time known as a principle of Zen practice: “a point of time which has neither the past nor the future.. “. The moment “where eternity cuts into time”, which exactly correspondents to what is know as Satori, which “takes place when consciousness realizes a state of one thought.”
That are some thoughts to ponder on for a while – and for that pondering Fabio Perletta provides a perfect soundtrack. Three untitled tracks (totalling 48 minutes – but put it on repeat and you can take all the pondering time you need).
On this album, Fabio Perletta explores the “emotional states experienced before, during and after a very long awaited trip”. The three different pieces are created using location recordings from Tokyo, Takayama and Kyoto, all heavily processed to unrecognisable abstract soundscapes using computer, feedback, magnetic tape and digital and ‘irreversible‘ sound processing.
Musique Concrête for the mind? In fact, words fail to describe it describe because “Zen does not follow the routine of reasoning, and does not mind contradicting itself or being inconsistent.” Just listen. And try to look for that exact moment of ‘one thought’.
Echoing through deep, ill-lit caverns and dripping onto the wet, gleaming surface of a dark rock, the gamelan sounds of Ichinen sit, their meditative notes reverberating into the empty space, clanking within its subterranean temple. Ichinen is a deep listen, inspired by a trip to Japan in 2015 and the book Living by Zen, by Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō.
Fabio Perletta is in the presence of stillness, a place beyond all the accepted laws of external space and time: a spliced point, “a point of time which has neither the past nor the future”. Seconds stutter and stop.
In Living by Zen, Teitarō describes, as in accordance with zen practice, the shortest possible unit of time: time occupied by a single thought. In a similar way, the two kanji of Ichinen represent singularity. One is a lonely number, and the regularly recurring gongs – as regular as clockwork – thrum against a beating heart. The years go by and the music envelops them in the space of a single second. The minimal sounds are engaged in a kind act of intimacy with the very air. As the heavy-headed tones ring out, carrying the weight of past centuries, they absorb the very atmosphere. And because of this, the sounds inside Ichinen become endless things.
Voices are cut and pasted into the record, blinking in and out of the introspective tones like a camcorder turning on and off; like a guided tour lost in a deep, watery cavern. A flare-up of tinnitus is a warning that all is not as it seems, like underlying anxious thoughts that attempt to derail a meditation practice. Time itself, along with any and all arranged notions of it, becomes but an unfurling construct in the process of erasing, its memory deleting.
Using sounds from traditional Japanese objects found in both common and sacred places, along with field recordings taken in Tokyo, Takayama and Kyoto, which were later processed on a computer, Perletta’s sounds are cold and damp to the touch. They’re left alone for the first third of Ichinen, but isolation nonetheless helps the music to grow like an undiscovered fungus, unheeded by anything, occupying a copious amount of space in the dank caverns due to the absence of others. Meditative gongs and dulled, seeping sounds are like strong and deep thoughts, ringing out until they reach completion, and almost inaudible quakes send shivers over lower, unstable ranges. Pure frequencies hold an attentive gaze.
The notes fade, but they don’t necessarily stop. They echo into infinity, at once trapped inside the deep trenches of the past and in turn shaping things that have yet to arrive. Harmony and silence are one and the same.
All music ever played is still playing – The Music Lesson, by Victor L. Wooten.
It’s something of a cliché when describing ambient and experimental music, but more than most works in these genres Fabio Perletta’s “Ichinen” feels more like an immersive environment rather than a linear narrative, despite the fact that the piece is in some ways a transcription of a journey the artist took to Japan in 2015. Things are rather than happen, their coming and going merely a shift of attention towards and away from sounds that have always and will always sound thus. I suppose this relates in some way to the album’s title, which refers to the “absolute present” held as the shortest possible unit of time in Suzuki Daisetsu Teitar?’s Zen Buddhism, the one (ichi) thought (nen) of enlightenment (Satori).
Source audio was recorded in various locations — temples, restaurants, markets — and then edited and transformed digitally, losing familiarity and context but gaining specificity and presentness. I’m struggling even to name many of these sounds: the closest approximations might be ‘thuds’, ‘chinks’, ‘scrapes’, ‘taps’, ‘clinks’, and ‘thumps’, some wooden-sounding, some metallic, others trickling like water or gusting like air. The ways in which the sounds reverberate give some clues as to the kind of space in which they are sounding, but different spaces frequently seem to be superimposed, contrasting indoors and outdoors, near and far in ambiguous and believable ways. Real moments are always superpositions of interior and exterior, hope and memory, and “Ichinen” mirrors these complex composites convincingly.
Very occasionally, tonal sounds will be introduced into the mix, either recorded in situ or added in the studio. In part 3, there’s what sounds like air being blown over the mouths of different glass or ceramic vessels to get different pitches. “Ichinen” ends with a warm, ambient chord that shifts and glimmers for a long time, but this overtly composed tonal element doesn’t feel like a resolving conclusion or finale; rather, it sounds as if it had always been there, extending in both directions beyond this single moment in which our attention happens to alight on it. Although “Ichinen” bears many similarities to its predecessor “Genkai”, a collaboration with the great sound designer Haruo Okada, in many ways the newer work strikes me as more complex, expansive, and open-ended — a moment that remains present long after the final chord has died away.
Appunti raccolti in un estemporaneo diario sonoro e rimodellati per divenire una cinematica restituzione emozionale di luoghi attraversati e atmosfere vissute. Ancora una volta parte dall’estremo oriente Fabio Perletta, il cui nuovo lavoro ispirato da un viaggio in Giappone rappresenta un’ideale prosecuzione della collaborazione con Haruo Okada che lo scorso anno era confluita in “Genkai 限界”.
L’esplorazione sensoriale definita da Perletta è un susseguirsi di concreti frammenti minimali, spesso generati da oggetti trovati sui luoghi, che emergono da evanescenti e misteriosi fondali dando vita ad un flusso che lentamente procede attraverso scorci esotici nei quali la propria presenza rimane una quasi impalpabile ombra. Quello che modella i tre capitoli di “Ichinen 一念” è un tocco lieve che restituisce lo sguardo acuto e profondo di chi si muove costantemente rapito dal fascino di un universo in bilico tra un immaginario vivido e una realtà sfuggente.
Lush, rich, and quiet, Fabio Perletta’s “Ichinen” delivers a soothing contemplation. Emerging and dwelling right on the periphery of silence these songs feel best suited for late nights. Gestures contained within the pieces hint at gigantic unknowable symphonies of which only a small segment becomes clear. Melody, rhythm, these have some though not exclusive hold over the album. Over the course of the three interlocked pieces the clarity and depth of the textures results in the creation of an entirely new universe.
On “Part 1” the song begins with a boom. Upon that boom an entire sound is unleashed, one that recalls elements of drone music alongside onkyokei. By letting the piece expand Fabio Perletta pays close attention to the way the sounds reverberate. Eventually too Fabio Perletta lets in a natural environment, one which references field recordings and found sound. Such a rich tapestry allows the sound to feel alive. Much more surreal is the distorted oddity of “Part 2” where Fabio Perletta appears to be transmitting the track from another world for the first half. By the middle part of the middle Fabio Perletta lets the real world in for a moment before the song ends on an eerie swell of sound. Easily the highlight of the piece is “Part 3” which effortlessly ties everything together. A clever build on this track reveals a true knack for pacing, with the song being broken out into suites. The finale in particular has a glorious conclusion, one full of air and color.
“Ichinen” shows off Fabio Perletta’s uncanny knack to let the smallest of sounds gain great significance.
Strange things are happening in this house, strange coincidences to be exact. Recently, we have been working on a new project, one we truly believe in and one we are quite determined about. We believe that this project is going to take one year to be complete, at least, that is what our advisors have been telling us. A few days ago, this album came in, quickly followed by another one, both carrying the word ‘Ichinen’. I’d never heard of that word before and I found it extremely coincidental that it suddenly appeared twice. ‘Ichinen’ is a Japanese word used in the art of zen meditation, meaning ‘determination’ and ‘one year’, among others.
‘Ichinen’, the album by experimental composer Fabio Perletta, is the follow-up to his 2016 album ‘Genkai’. It was inspired by a trip in Japan in 2015 and a book of Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō, titled ‘Living by Zen’. So I guess it will be no surprise that this is a meditative ambient album. Divided into three parts, this album is a collection of soundscapes, drones, noises and field recordings, arranged into narrative pieces of music, or “sound art”. However, don’t expect blissful ambient in the vein of people like Brian Eno or Harold Budd. No, this album is abstract, avant-garde and unpredictable.
The best way to approach this album is to play it loud enough, find a comfortable position and allow the sounds to guide you through your own imagination. As I already mentioned, this is a meditative album, both minimal and immersive, if played in the right conditions, obviously. I’m not even going to recommend this just to ambient fans. I’m going to recommend it to everyone. In this world, full of stress, anxiety and depression, an album like this might actually help people to relax, to meditate and to discover talents and emotions they never thought they had. So check it out, try it. It’s healthier than taking antidepressant medication…