T33.17 – Ken Ikeda “Tzuki [Moon]”

CD – 12 tracks

Track list:

1. Manifest Destiny
2. Evolution
3. Yawarakai Hada
4. Tzuki [Moon]
5. In Between Frames
6. Infinitely Gray
7. Borderland
8. 444
9. Looking For the Moon
10. Hydantol
11. Flicker
12. Motion Pictures



On Ken Ikeda’s first CD release, he redirects his efforts from gallery and installation work (including collaborations with video artist Mariko Mori) into the terrain of “ambient” home listening. Tzuki – on the surface a breathtaking update of Eno’s and Aphex’s best chill-out soundtracks – is a s nuanced and precise as the most ambitious microsound exploration, just more soothing. Melodies slow to a crawl, like the heartbeat of a nearly-frozen body or the creep of a Northern river’s ice-flow; there are no “hooks”, only nooks and crannies where sound pools and trickles through. Sour-toned timbres – staples of Japanese electronica from Ken Ishii’s early ambient works through Susuma Yokota’s most recent recordings – characterize most of the tracks here, lending Ikeda’s sound the quality of light refarcetd through a melted lens. Sleep to it? By all means. Sleep on it? Not if you know what’s good for you. [Philip Sherburne]

The Sound Projector (UK):

A highly listenable excursion into the realms of resonant Eno-esque electronics. For this release, Ikeda works largely with music samples from film soundtracks, although you would hardly know it as, through intensive processing, he’s erased all traces of his footsteps like an ice-sculptor working in the snow. His aim in any case is not some ironic comment on society through rehashing fragments of pop culture (so no Apocalypse Now dialogue samples here, thank heavens). Ken’s aims are more high-minded, even mystical; he wants to communicate with the God of images, and by doing so, communicate with the past and try to say a holy mass for our ancestors. This could be a very futuristic take on aspects of traditional Japanese worship. There;s liturgy embedded in these digital tones. There’s also a hymn to nature. Any one of these racks, but especially ‘Looking for the Moon’, evoke the perfect frame of mind for contemplating natural phenomena, and dwelling on the holy mysteries. Sometimes it is so gorgeous that it could almost make you cry. This is the debut full-length CD from ken Ikeda, who also featured in the Sonic Boom exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. One of the better releases from Touch and one that seems fully attuned to the mystical aspirations of that label. [Ed Pinsent]

digital artifact (USA):

Curious thing, this CD, but a vastly likeable thing as well. This is the debut release from Ken Ikeda, who has made environmental recordings for art galleries, visual installations, and the like. With that background, it is no surprise that his music is very ephemeral, incidental, and thoughtful. Dulcet electronic tones hum pleasantly, in nonrepetitive, nonlinear fashion, and almost always in high octaves and registers. Tzuki made me think of the more recent, deconstructed music of Tetsu Inoue (Waterloo Terminal for instance), only as though someone had painstakingly performed reconstructive surgery on it, reassembling it back into some semblance of coherence, though still not predictable or mundane. Ikeda’s music, while sounding simple, if slightly odd, feels like a welcome respite in a busy and noisy world. In the future, this is what we will be hearing in elevators or while on hold on the telephone. “We’re on that.” [Brad Yost]

VITAL (Netherlands):

Any relation to the other Ikeda? It’s rather like the surfeit of artists in this business named “Whitehead”. And the (nearly) patented Wozencroft sleeve stares inscrutably into Easter Island space. A dulcet series of tones animates dead air and it’s fuck music at it’s most tender. One day there will be fields of relaxation chambers from which these sounds will emanate. A pouring-out of water tapes methodically at the tones. A backwards reflection now, running against a grain of a lonely chime. An echoing steel sings in quicklime quick-time and is associating sound with images a kind of hysteria? Mass or otherwise? Bird sings in a reflective way and the tones procede in a devotional way that is conducive to afterfuck glowing. A chill – out. The bird’s wing moves oddly slowly and this is what it sounds like to levitate. (DC) Miss you, babe.

FREQ Music E-Zine – http://www.freq.org.uk

Rough Guide to Rock – http://www.roughguides.co.uk/music/rock/
When I was a child I had this odd toy consisting of a large hard plastic ball supported with full rotation faculty at the end of a broomstick type handle. When the ball was pushed along or pulled behind, it made a lovely musical sound, bell like and gentle. Running about at my three year old top speed I recall the music ball sounded warped and crazy, but it was when it was rocked slowly that it produced sweet little songlike noises that I loved. “In Between Frames” on Ken Ikeda’s Tzuki(Moon) sounds like that song.

In fact all of this CD sounds like a childhood dreamscape. Simple blips and beeps and electronically induced pings and zips compounded intonear-song renderings to produce a distracting and disarming collection of very sweet noise. Far away from saccharine, this album comprises what little kid loneliness might sound like if it had a sound. Asian influenced woodwinds and chimes bring back a visual of the little boy befriended by Japanese monsters, and no one else believes him. It is a bittersweet melodic tragedy that strikes a sad chord, simply. Tzuki seems a private piece of music, a personal work of art and it is a most generous act that Mr. Ikeda has seen fit to share it. This is no piece for dancing, but more a soundtrack for wandering through urban ruins and 20th Century shatterings of what a prettier world might have been. It would take an innocent to make the imagination skip, or perhaps just the onlooking of the moon which still deigns to shine. [Lilly Novak]

Wreck This Mess Radio (Amsterdam):

“tzuki [Moon]” on Touch is a fantastic probing of the incidental and hypnotic sounds that hover in our crowded and busy ambiences and our tinnitus infected ears. A ringing that hearkens us to pursue the music down some enchanted corridor as we are led away from our contemporary worries. Orpheus too “with his singing lyre led the trees, led the wild beasts of the wilderness…everything animate and inanimate followed. He moved the rocks on the hillsides and turned the courses of the rivers.” This may be what the music might have sounded like if Orpheus had had access to sound software. Highly recommended. [Bart Plantegna]

re:mote induction (web):

Following various exhibitions and collaborations Ken Ikeda releases his first CD through Touch. Tzuki (Moon) featuring 12 tracks comes in a simple card sleeve with card inlay, all sides show the environmental photography of Jon Wozencroft. The CD is started by the short, gentle Manifest Destiny glimmers of warm, shiny tones – flashing like momentary beams of light. A steady humming background backing these flashes. The shift to Evolution is smooth, though the way in which the tones are brought together as notes to form a pulsing melody is clear. Layering occurs which effects a couple of suggestions within the feel of the whole – individual notes wander, a humming field flows with steadiness, glints flash as stars in this night sky. A fade offers clear demarcation between Evolution and Yawakai Hada. The tone remains consistent within the flow of the body, but there is a greater bass element. With which pulses are extended to form a more string sound, brushes of a bow on a string back and forth. All against the perpetually engaging hum that Ikeda works with. The title track Tzuki (moon) comes next – the hum doppling to provide suggestion of hesitant density. The depth of sound suggests a certain wind instrument effect or ringing tone. This results in a more shrill and extended sound, in some ways perhaps hinting of an oriental influence.

Contextually the sound of Tzuki is consistent but exhibits a different feel from the material that preceded. The sound fades out slowly leading to In Between Frames with its bouncing ball plinkiness and sparkle of electrified string. This has a more playful and vibrant feel, but is unfussed/unhurried with that. strong but simple feeling. Infinitely Gray is working on more levels building a suggestiveness rather than presence – creating space between sounds. That creates a vibrancy and resonance that engages the listener. With the looping of a humming note we enter the Borderland, chords playing on top with a feeling of air released by each depression of keys. The humming note becoming distinguished as a steady pulsing stream, contrasting the clear peaks and troughs of the chord layer. By contrast 444 takes on a more rapid pulsing form. Layering into a rhythmic for which almost suggests, in its play of tones, the sounds of Caribbean drums. The echoing layer of pulses is accompanied by the play of flat notes. With a more sustained droning tone we are Looking For The Moon. Additional sounds create a more “off” sound, almost like a cat mewling. With this there are bubble notes and the now subdued drone layer. While most of the album is enjoyable this piece exhibits some of the down sides – perhaps becoming a little too self-involved and detached from the listener. In plinking, explorative tones we have the introduction to Hydantol. Expanding there is a rounded bass hum and clear melodic line. Little clipping sounds, tinged with a squelchiness provide little details within the easy flow. Hydantol is subdued, a relaxed movement that washes over you. Ikeda continues with Flicker which has some of the same sensibility, though perhaps knocked out by a degree. More dispersed sounding as it hums in extended, distorted pulses. Tzuki concludes with Motion Picture which again captures some of the more melodic and playful moments of the album. Though with its sound there is perhaps more a suggestion of nostalgia, perhaps melancholy in the tone of the keyboard lines. The piece fades out bringing Tzuki to a wandering conclusion. [RVWR]

Rumore [Italy]:

Stilisticamnete agli antipodi di quanto appena riferito la sofisticata e rarefatta ricerca elettronica di Ken ikeda, gia autore di sonorizzazioni par David Lynch e par la nota videoartista Mariko Mori, al suo primo CD con tzuki [Moon] (Touch): suoni minimali stirati e ipnotici ricavati in parti (impercettibilmente) da vecchi film, delicati carillon che sbocciano come fiori sull’acqua cercando di fissari l’inesprimibile “spazio fra i fotogrammi”. [Vittore Baroni]

Illuminations (Turkey):

I am not sure if there exists a connection between Ken Ikeda and Ryoji Ikeda [ Japanese master of experimental electronics who is also on Touch ] whether it does or not their approach is similar to a certain degree. Both musicians utilize with small portions of elements, carry out a very personal style of treating sound and building structures and create music based on minimal textures which are so thin to be absorbed by air. Yet if we focus on the material, this comparison becomes meaningless : Ken Ikeda has nothing to do with scientific aims, nor he explores the outer limits of sound. He is the poet of a relaxing sound environment and his music, screen-worthy enough as expected from a composer who has long composed music for video installations [ David Lynch’s “Dreams” is one of them ] unlocks the doors of a seraphic universe isolated from the aural torments of the daily life. The compositions in “Tzuki [Moon]” can be described as sonic-haikus as they stick in ear with their unadorned simplicity and sincere naturalism which defies the “laboratory made illusion” sticker. Each of them sounds to be brought out without human hand – imagine the sheer ‘perfection’ of the rocks naturally shaped by water, in a dry riverbed or shore, the admiration you feel for their ‘craftmanship’ is the admiration you will feel for these songs’. Sonically they are dominated by the flow of smooth-edged soundbodies, coloured by gently flashing waves and shimmering spots while they dissolve into each other. Though stagnancy seems to be the key word, dynamism is not completely forsaken – but geniusly controlled. This care results in a very tranquil atmosphere, carrying the restfulness of a lonely night in nature. “Tzuki [Moon]” comes in cardboard sleeve, adorned with the environmental photography of Jon Wozencroft, which perfectly fits the album’s aura. [M.Y.]


Ken Ikeda’s music is crystalline. Tzuki (Moon) is made from shards of crystal, delicately chiseled and assembled into skeletons of songs. And then, it feels as if the crystal liquefied and became water, since nothing is strong enough to apply pressure on it: songs drift by, a gentle melody accompanied by undercurrents of backward notes. Always on the verge of analog synthesis and electronics, of 1970s German-school electronic music and 1990s computer manipulation, Ikeda’s music is both pleasing and haunting – not to mention impossible to categorize. New age fans might have some difficulties relating to these beautiful but troubled soundscapes (like looking at an underwater fantasy landscape) and avant-garde electronics fans will definitely be destabilized by the conspicuous simplicity of the results. “444” is the most conventional track of the set, a delicate cycling motif, but stronger highlights are found on the title track and “Hydantol.” The sound palette may be a bit limited, but it actually helps, making Tzuki (Moon) a comfortable late-night listening experience. A strongly recommended discovery. [Francois Couture, ]