TO:44 – Ryoji Ikeda “Matrix”

Double CD in gatefold wallet
2001 edition with postcards

Track list:

Matrix [For Rooms] (1999-2000)
1-01 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 (12:00)
1-02 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 (5:30)
1-03 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 (4:30)
1-04 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 (5:30)
1-05 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 (4:30)
1-06 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 (5:30)
1-07 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 (4:30)
1-08 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (5:30)
1-09 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (4:30)
1-10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (7:57)

.Matrix (1999-2000)
2-01 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 (3:02)
2-02 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 (2:24)
2-03 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 (1:00)
2-04 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 (1:27)
2-05 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 (3:34)
2-06 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 (2:42)
2-07 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 (4:55)
2-08 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (5:22)
2-09 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (0:59)
2-10 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (5:32)

Matrix is the final element in a trilogy of CDs that began with +/- in 1996. When it was first released, +/- came like a bolt out of the white. Nobody had used digital recording processes to produce sound as pure, as intense and as exhilarating. Since releasing 0°C in 1998, Ryoji Ikeda has progressively refined and enhanced the distinctive sonic fields and microsounds that have strongly influenced post-digital composition, resisting the transitory cycle suggested by the term ‘Glitches’, creating compositions that probe deeply: our relationships to time and space, sound and light. Much of the time since 1998 has been spent touring with the Japanese performance group, Dumb Type, whose landmark show [OR] is shortly to be followed by a new presentation for which Ikeda has composed the sound, Memorandum. In January 2000, Ryoji Ikeda toured the UK with Zoviet*France. A closer connection to the 20 new recordings that make up Matrix can be found on the recent Touch 00 sampler, Matrix for an Anechoic Room, which came out in Spring 2000. That’s the only forewarning of what awaits you on putting the first CD into your player. The layers of sound that make up Matrix [for rooms] transform both the listener and the listening environment into another dimension. The dimensions change as you move about the space, or simply turn your head around the sound like surveying the angles of a building. Matrix has much in common with the work of La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, Alvin Lucier…, but poised closer to the imminent and auto-interactive virtual world we are promised, Ryoji Ikeda’s new work pushes the parameters of the drone to ask timely questions concerning our relationship to own perception, and to our existing living spaces.

Reviews: (UK):

High concept digital art from Japan. ‘Matrix [for rooms]’, the first of this double cd album, comprises of ten pulsing, ambient rhythms that form a lulling white noise. These are defined by Ryoji as ‘invisible patterns which fill the listening space – the listener’s movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music.’ It’s true… turn your head or walk around the room and you will find the pattern mysteriously changes with you. It’s an unusual way of listening, although what end it serves is left entirely to your imagination. The second cd might perhaps a little more rewarding to the diehard ambient fan, though ‘rewarding’ isn’t really a word that should be used for soundscapes this austere and minimal. In the absence of all melody and nearly all syncopation, there is merely the drone of the machine. At times it’s as if 2001’s dying supercomputer (HAL) decided to experiment with a little Glass and Reich – this is sound which often has no sense of human context or involvement. Bravely experimental. [FB]


A bobbing, curling drone. Enervating foghorn gush. Ikeda, Japan’s kinetic lacerator, makes noise out of pure, quotidian, regular sound – unusually vibrant tones, zealously xenophilic yodels. Zipping, yon, x-ray wallops vault undulating toward subtle reminders: quarks purged of never. Melted light. Knowing, joined in holy gone, faraway, ethereal, demonic, crepescular, bulbous, atomic. And both CDs delight. Electric frequencies gut hollows inside. Jagged keening loops menacingly, neurotically. Odd promise quakes, rupture spills, texture undoes, vertigo waces. Xanax yearnings zero. Zorn’s yellowed, xeric wastes vanquished under the silence riled. Quixotic purity occludes noise, mass, light. Knife jabbed into hearing, gracefully. Force, entropy, deadly collisions. Beautiful. Absolute. [Philip Sherburne]

Conceptual sound art can have a tendency to fall flat on its backside. Thus, its a great pleasure to announce that renowned tonality proponent Ryoji Ikeda has thoroughly come up trumps with this absolutely superb double album of metatones that must represent an all-time high for the already excellent touch label. Part 1 (“Matrix for Rooms”) is an hour-long continuous flow foggy, echoing high-pitch frequencies that pulse leisurely. This in itself is not a big deal. What is a big deal is the manner in which this creates a matrix-like sound field in the listening environment; wherever you sit (or stand, or whatever) in the room, the whole sound undergoes a transformation, either in pitch, timbre, or tempo. As such, it is potentially a unique experience on each occasion; such are the benefits of piling these particular tones (which exist in a very narrow range) on top of one another. Such things have been done in installation spaces, but I’m not aware of any such project reaching the CD environment before, not in as complete a form as this at any rate. This is (in its own quiet way) potentially explosive stuff. But even if you remain perfectly still, there is something about this slowly evolving pitch that is totally engrossing anyway. This isn’t so much background music for your foreground activities as vice versa. Part 2 sees a greater paring back of the high-end frequencies and the introduction of some fearsomely enveloping bass dives. Though it can’t hope to repeat the versatility of the earlier piece, this section is rooted firmly in the ~scape school of dub-techno and offers up 30 minutes that more than holds its own against anyone in that field. Indeed, this has a depth sometimes lacking in the minimal Teutonic pulse. A must buy, basically. [John Gibson, Grooves, USA]

Ryoji Ikeda is beginning to hone his post-Lucier millennial minimalism down to two deceivingly simple ideas – the physiological impact minimal sounds can have on the listeners, and music of pattern. He also seems to be joining the current movement of japanese sound artists who are narrowing their musical pallettes as a reaction against information overload. Gone are the intense media collages and the layered ambience. Matrix is Ikeda’s purest statement of intent to date. One CD full of sine waves that seem to change pulse and fold in on themselves as you move about the room, and another of simple pulses and tones evolving into a strangely funky way of approaching the usual BPMs. [Chad Oliveiri, City Newspaper, Rochester, USA]

Ryoji Ikeda has always produced such stark, clinical recordings. He rarely conceals the sounds in his palette, and oftentimes it seems like he is presenting us with sound purity itself. Take, for example, his contribution to the 20′ to 2000 series (on Raster-Noton), where he exploited the 440 Hz sine wave beyond its own structure, and you can begin to understand where his ears are. This new double-disc release sees him exploring similar territory, though here he does less of the work himself. This time, he is relying on the listener to do some of the work for him. The first disc is titled matrix [for rooms], and with very good reason. The liner notes state that the recording “forms an invisible pattern which fills the listening space,” whereby “the listener’s movement transforms the phenomenon into his±her intrapersonal music.” And truer this could not be. A simple, straight-ahead approach to listening to this disc will reveal very little change; it’s only when one begins to walk around the room, slowly and steadily, to reveal the hidden patterns evident in the tracks. A shift of one’s head to the left, and the change is obvious. Stand up, it changes again. I was never quite sure if it was my movements changing the sounds, or if Ikeda was changing the sounds at the precise moments I shifted around. For this reason, the disc should be played at a reasonable volume and from a capable sound system. The effect is virtually lost on smaller systems, and not half as dramatic. One could argue that this effect is more than present on any number of recordings, that a hurdy-gurdy or a bagpipe will sound different if you face the speaker or turn away from it, but never has that audible shift been so apparent, so feasible. Ikeda has created an undeniable soundspace that one can walk right through and get lost in. Of course, one can’t creep around the room for the entire 60 minutes of the disc, and for that reason there are subtle changes contained within of a more obvious nature. If the first disc requires your actions and concentration to make the most of it, you’re in for a more relaxed time on the second disc, .matrix. Here we find Ikeda toying around with his sine waves in a more entertaining, rhythmic manner. The 30-minute disc wouldn’t sound out of place on Staalplaat’s “material” series, as it’s full of crackles, rumbles and stumbles that would make any glitch-head proud. There were some moments that reminded me of The Hafler Trio’s start to Masturbatorium, with its high sine vs. low sine battle. There’s the recurring sound of a heartbeat, which plays like a rumbling bass line and adds a (dare I say) “human touch” to the tracks. He plays quite nicely with some rhythms, and this does seem a logical step for Ikeda to take his ideas to from time to time. Ikeda has constructed a very enticing and opposing set of discs here that play with some unique and well executed ideas. The sound quality is first-rate, and the binary number track listings (i.e. “0000000001”) are the perfect match for this digital creation of his. [Vils M DiSanto, Incursion]

A few years ago, when I told my friend Theresa to go see La Monte Young’s long-running Dream House installation on Church St., she came back and gleefully reported that she played the room with her head. Puzzled, I asked her what she meant. She told me that by simply moving her head in the space of Young’s installation, she could control the pitch and frequencies of Young’s droney sine waves. Young’s installation is a must-see/must-experience for all, but if for some reason you can’t make it down there (and there should be no reason: the show’s been running for the past eight years and is scheduled to continue until June 23, 2001), you might want to pick up Ryoji Ikeda’s new disc, which, when played loudly, almost replicates the Young experience. Now I’m not technically savvy and certainly don’t understand what makes these pieces do what they do (try to decipher this ditty from La Monte Young: The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time When Centered above and below The Lowest Term Primes in The Range 288 to 224 with The Addition of 279 and 261 in Which The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped above and Including 288 Consists of The Powers of 2 Multiplied by The Primes within The Ranges of 144 to 128, 72 to 64 and 36 to 32 Which Are Symmetrical to Those Primes in Lowest Terms in The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped below and Including 224within The Ranges 126 to 112, 63 to 56 and 31.5 to 28 with The Addition of 119, a periodic composite sound waveform environment created from sine wave components generated digitally in real time on a custom-designed Rayna interval synthesizer). Similarly, Ikeda’s track listing from his new disc looks like this:

TO:44.1: 10 tracks = 60:00
matrix [for rooms] 0000000001
matrix [for rooms] 0000000010
matrix [for rooms] 0000000100
matrix [for rooms] 0000001000
matrix [for rooms] 0000010000
matrix [for rooms] 0000100000
matrix [for rooms] 0001000000
matrix [for rooms] 0010000000
matrix [for rooms] 0100000000
matrix [for rooms] 1000000000

TO:44.2: 10 tracks = 31:03
.matrix 1111111110
.matrix 1111111101
.matrix 1111111011
.matrix 1111110111
.matrix 1111101111
.matrix 1111011111
.matrix 1110111111
.matrix 1101111111
.matrix 1011111111
.matrix 0111111111

From what I understand, when you put a couple of sustained tones that are close in pitch near each other, they create a shimmery, fluttering type of sonic activity that tickles your eardrums. And when you move your head slightly, the sine waves react to your physical motion and, in turn, change their sound. Ikeda’s Matrix is in 10 parts, each roughly five minutes long and each having a slightly different set of tones, giving a slightly different set of aural impressions. Moving from rather low hums straight up into the higher registers, the results are very powerful. Like thumping sub-bass from the back of a Jeep, Ikeda’s sounds actually affect not just your ears, but the core of your body; his pulses seem to be timed to bodily pulses and everything from your breathing to your blood circulation seems to fall in time with Ikeda’s music. A couple of words of caution though. This disc needs to be played on a stereo in a room. If you try to listen to it on headphones, all you’ll really hear is a consistent tone; the dynamics of moving your head to “play the piece” will not be possible. Likewise, when I played it on my WFMU show, I received complaints from listeners who, due to WFMU’s lousy reception, are forced to keep their radio inmono. It seems that they, too, only heard a dullish set of drones. While La Monte Young’s pieces are always better heard live than on a recording, Ikeda’s are just the opposite. Reflecting his generation’s infatuation with the vast possibilities of digital technology and manipulation, the recording becomes the ultimate fetishized product. In doing so, Ikeda takes installation art to a whole new level: the personal and the omnipresent. As it is with so much other digital technology these days, one needn’t leave one’s chair to experience what once was only kept in museums. [Kenneth Goldsmith, New York Press]

Matrix is the third in a trilogy of releases by influential Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda on the UK label Touch. As a release it is 2CD set which works as two distinct ideas to a degree – matrix [for rooms] and .matrix. Each disc follows a similar pattern, in that each features 10 tracks that represent a 10×10 matrix, with the first disc representing the scale 0000000001 to 1000000000 and the second from 1111111110 to 0111111111. matrix [for rooms] is the more difficult of the discs in some ways, as it represents the recordings from an installation piece. The matrix describing a spatial environment, with the nodes in that environment being represented by sound – the result should be that as a person travels through that spatial collection the sounds should interact according to the route they take. The result should be dependent on that individual, which is fine for the real time installation. But as a recording it will be more difficult to recreate that sensation, as each piece is essentially one tone fluctuating for a period as a representation of a node. For the most part this documents the installation rather than recreating it, providing the listener with only a sense of the potential. Taking the disc as is the following is what we experience, though some variation could be generated by using a random function on your player: 0000000001 sets up a low pulse, maintained in a slow increase of penetrative drones. Hints of a wavering edge as the frequency of the rotation decreases gradually. This is an overwhelming focus, the pulse becoming a strobe approximation, then a subtle sequence. Again a shift so that the pulse has a clearer definition in tones that suggests an almost rhythmic fluctuation. Slowly increasing frequency once more. But in the process changing the affect of the sound between, to an almost sub-audible clipping. 0000000010 introduces a second tone, a more bas orientated hum. Behind which the affect of 0000000001 seems to fade till the hum has a definite dominance. Again this starts at a certain frequency and slows, but being at a different tonal level we get a different result; indeed the slow down is more pronounced. In time becoming narcoleptic, the slowing of sound and sustain of bass shifting in to 0000000100. The pitch of the sound shifted mildly, less pronounced than 0000000001 to 0000000010. Raising the frequency to a seesaw then lowering a notch. This sets up the sort of spiral that could almost inspire sea sickness. A second tone comes in, more periodic and brusque – momentary tick then it is gone as the primary sound deepens with slow rotations. Within a separate oscillation seems to develop with the turn to 0000001000, taking over the flow in an almost unnoticed switch. This maintains a progress of a form that is by now familiar. Sustaining a tonal back and forth we move on to the swing of 0000010000, like a hypnotist gathering a subject’s focus. Minimising as the sound itself focuses. As before another tone come up, different again, and triggering change to 0000100000. This is a higher sound, closer to 0000000001, with the last purr of 0000010000 barely maintained as this is increasingly established. As it continues we have the impression of an almost constant sound, though we can still detect the fluctuant inferences in the flow. Increasing and shifting to provide another aspect of the pulse stream. Slowing a degree so that the oscillating pattern is more discernible once more, which flows into 0001000000, deceptively becoming a more solid sound once more. Higher pulse like a warm stroke of metallic edge, setting a vibrant example. Increasing to rise in pitch, to pierce, with little dips at the peak of the component wave. Evening out in more equilibrium based level. Streamlining we shift to 0010000000, a higher sound coming in at a reduced level and rising as with previous transitions. Working the two levels against each other till the new pitch is dominant, the old carrying on just that little extra and then gone. Strangely each new piercing level seems more so than the last, though this could be a perception affected by the way the sounds shift like this to become slowly less piercing. Slowing frequency in itself strips a degree of intensity. then shifting pitch a notch and increasing frequency again to a spiral that plays with the edges of insinuation. Approaching invisibility then flitting through a pulse form the sound intensifies back up to a tight funnel, which represents the move on to 0100000000. The level of spectrum that this piece attains flirts with spectral. Becoming something of a wash that doesn’t entirely seem tangible. Then it is dopplering off itself, creating a curious spatial sensation in the process. A note forms with passage to 1000000000, its momentary inflection hooking into the sounds of 0100000000 and dragging the frequency down. The interplay works on a certain extreme of tonal shifts. Slowing, to become gradual rotary strokes. Focusing into a line, sine form flattening. A deeper sound comes up, allowing a shift in the overall effect of this track. In contrast to the introduction of low tone comes a high tone on the edge of hearing, approaching ever nearer as existing levels slow further. 1000000000 clearly being the culmination of the CD in the way that it is allowing as much change and detail as has occurred over the entire course of the previous 9 parts. A process which continues to work with the distinction of elements, to a point which surely is of the highest frequency achieved here and really does risk leaving the range of audibility. Of course even then it still has an effect on your perception, before the album is in fact over, and even so the lasting effect of the last level is felt in my ears. With consideration there is a clear overlap between the elements of the proposed “nodes” of the matrix, which leaves me curious as to how the “real” thing was set up and how pure a representation of the installation these pieces are. By contrast .matrix is considerably more accessible than matrix [for rooms], in that it is more about composition than installation, though one can detect continuity in the sound palate used between the two discs. 1111111110 starts with a slight pulse, periodic brush against hearing, low rotation coming up and in turn boosting the initial sound to a more audible level. A third level starts up, another rotation, a flitting spin that works off the existing detail. With a marked pulse that sets up a spatial rhythm we have 1111111101. This bobs to the fore with waves to back it up, working it’s way in, to draw the listener’s attention. Filtered down again to the bare transmission of blip signal comes 1111111011. Setting up an echo, and a mild skip breath punctuation. This moves on to 1111110111, a brush pulse and the insinuation of click detail. The clicks become more pinprick pulses, finely toned. Bass comes up as a deepened pulse allowing for the more rhythmic form of 1111101111. Gases are released in little fizzes that mix in with the flow of the shifting pulse details. A background stroke offers an approximate bass line, it’s fluctuation note like. A new pulse and echo triggers the change to 1111011111, and in the process we are another step towards an accessible simulation of techno in minimal blip form. Snare like sounds plunge in momentary motion, repeating to go with the other layers. A light stroke brushes an edge, a kind of whistling that leads to 1110111111. Wavering notes and sounds give a denser feel to this piece, again an almost techno feel. Micro dunts tack along while electronic signals blip and chop through programmed sequences. Vapour snare catches. A sturdy bass pulse taking over. A blip pulse sequence and periodic bass dip starts off 1101111111. Tightening in a spiral with time, then with the filtered level extruding the impression of sound outwards. A spin tone comes up in the background, a slow upwards spiral that is gradually approaching the surface. In turn the previous more in to a slow fade, and as the sound moves to the fore it filters down to a low sustained drone that marks the start of 1011111111. Again this shifts a notch and in turn triggers 0111111111. A low bass pulse hints at a presence, with a more pronounced intonation. This works through periods of low humming spiral and layered pulses. [remote induction, PTR]

Anybody who was at the recent Japanorama concert in Sheffield will be familiar with the concept of this album. Ikeda works in pure sound through digital recording processes, setting up a drone which imperceptibly changes, although more dramatic alterations can be made simply by making slight movements of the head. You may end up with a ricked neck and are unlikely to whistle the “tunes”, but its also a strange new form of home entertainment. [The Sheffield Telegraph]

“Matrix” on Touch is a meditative double CD that works with digitally fabricated tones. It almost works like a homing device or a mechanism that allows sound to obliquely identify space or our relationship inside a space. It works the way Aube does with mounting waves of logarithmic tympanic dishevelment and a condition that can only be described as diuretic and constitutionally destabilizing. I mean this material just sits inside and plays with your marrow. It moves from the initial notion that this will be annoying to something very satisfying, very moving. Perhaps something like the visual effect of a Rothko painting on our The Japanese contemporary tone musicians have an incredible ability to find beauty in austere Zen-like self-restraint. I see Ryoji, as a child, playing those early stereophonic tone/frequency test records and then finding the same sounds on an African thumb piano. Somehow, my brainwaves start to synchronize with these pure tones and I find the compositions not only meditative but clarifying – like a squeegy cleaning the forebrain’s windshield. [Wreck This Mess, Amsterdam]

Ikeda is the reigning master of what might be called ambiglitch. Unlike most of the artists who make their music from the sounds of skipping CDs, computer malfunctions, and other technical disasters, Ikeda works at the edge of rhythm and sometimes even audibility, using his clicks sparingly over shifting patterns of jostling low tones. This can have a Cagean effect; the rattle of my heating pipes never sounded more musical than when the first of these two discs was playing. Entitled “matrix (for rooms)”, it’s an hour-long mix of ten tracks assembled from oscillating hums, which evolve through repetition and variation a la Philip Glass, but, oddly, both faster and less urgent. Sometimes there’s a nyaah- nyaahing quality, sometimes you’re sure these frequencies were chosen to make your poodle lunge at your neck, but sometimes a kind of white-noise peace ascends.

Ikeda intends it to form an “invisible pattern which fills the listening space. The listener’s movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music.” Don’t ask me — the same thing happens when I listen to Bach or Kraftwerk. Disc 2, “.matrix”, has as many tracks but is half as long, and more like Ikeda’s other work, mostly terse sub-bass rhythms bumping up against each other with tweety bits on top. It’s also twice as fun — call me shallow, but I prefer a record that moves, doesn’t make its points through irritation, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. No instructions, either. Smart, entertaining, invigorating yet relaxing, it would’ve made a fine release on its own. A divided offering; will couples break up over which disc each one prefers? [PN, Other Music, NYC, USA]
Endlich ist die neue Ikeda Doppel-CD da. Matrix bildet den Schlusspunkt der Trilogie auf Touch. Wie es wohl weiter gehen wird? Egal. Matrix (for rooms), die erste CD, ist reiner Sinus. Zehn Variationen der Wellenform, die an allem Schuld ist. Sonische Therapie, nach der man nicht nur taub sondern auch generell mehr als geheilt ist. Zeit und Raum, stehen, liegen, schweben, wer, wie, wo, was…alles komplett egal. 60 Minuten Sinus und du weisst, dass andere Dinge zählen als die, über die du dir tagtäglich den Kopf zerbrichst. ‘.matrix’, CD Nummer zwei, ist dagegen fast schon tanzbar, fegt einen mit Subbässen, von denen andere nicht mal träumen, und hochfrequenten Fiepsern durchs Zimmer, baut sich Stück für Stück auf, setzt immer noch einen drauf, rummst plötzlich mit plöckriger Bassdrum los, rauscht, pumpt und knarzt, groovt und funkt, bevor der Sinus zurückkehrt und gemeinsam mit den bass nach Hause morst. Grossartig. [de:bug mailing list]

[trans.: Finally the new Ikeda double-cd is out. Matrix is the last part of the Touch trilogy. How will it continue? Anyway, ‘Matrix (for rooms)’, the first cd, is only sine waves. 10 variations of the waveform which is responsible for everything. Time and space, standing, lying, floating, who, how, where, what … nothing matters. 60 minutes of sine waves and one knows that other things are more important than the things one worries about all day long.’ .Matrix’, cd no 2, by contrast, is almost danceable. One is swept through the room by its sub-bass and highfrequency cheeping of which others aren’t even dreaming, it develops piece by piece, puts yet another one on top, starts all of a sudden with the bass drum, roars, pumps and rattles, grooves and is funky before sines and morse signals return and find their way home together with the bass. Sublime. (thaddi, de.bug mailing list)]

Matrix is artist Ryoji Ikeda’s third in a trilogy of CDs that began with +/- in 1996. This two CD set, a hour and a half total, serves two purposes, as an environmental art work and hypnotic, trance-inducing meditative exercise. Since +/- release, Ikeda has increasingly advanced his work creating microsonic sound sculptures that fall outside of labelling, while thrusting his musical ideas in to audacious new horizons. Here, what sounds as a single note of droning lab-setting sterility are, in fact, layers of analogous waves that fluctuate slowly, gently, often without the listener’s awareness. While most music seems to lose its gestalt when the listener distances himself or herself, here the sounds morph, changing pitch and frequency, becoming even more complex and interesting. Each subsequent room with its independent acoustics provide yet another set of sounds. One is able to change the sound by walking through the listening area as well as simply shifting the listening position. This amazing characteristic puts Matrix in a class of it’s own and gives cause for the listener to rethink our ideas of space/music relationships. With a steadied listening position, eyes shut, the Matrix may give rise to visions and lucid thought process as if clearing the mind’s palette to allow for deep meditation ? a dreaming while conscious state. This sonic building – a virtual auto-interactive sound world of complex micro-rhythms ? is necessary for anyone looking towards the use of the drone as sculpture. [Raging Consciousness, USA]

A past master at making recording to fit the space in which they are heard, including The Millennium Dome in London, Ryoji Ikeda’s Matrix brings the sounds indoors to a set of speakers and their surroundings near you. The sounds are set in layers to send the listener and their environment out of their current space and into another – or others as the sound field is moved around, within, across even. Matrix [For Rooms] makes up the hour-long CD1 of the set, and really does take hold of the space in which it is listened to, riding on microtones and tails of tones. Where the stero spectrum meets is where the action is; trun the balance one way or another and a more singular drone falls back, revealing the harmonic interplay through its absence. Immersive is the word, and for a change this is one recording which definitely doesn’t require headphones for the full (extra?)sensory effect. Wobbly, warbly, thrillingly dynamic over ageless stretches of time in a suitably Zen manner, and occasionally beautiful too. Systems music? Yes please! CD 2 has big lowering rhythms to wade through, a veritable bath of bass and the highest of squeaks. The space between jumps with implied and real energies, making for one of the more luxuriously-imagined mathematical soundscape compositions of these times, to recombinant effect as the glitches and bleeps take hold. Who said that theoretical art can’t be fun? This is one of those pieces which takes off somewhere beyond the mere comprehension of its thirty minute running time, and demands appreciation at the volume the reproducing amplifier’s speakers and surrounding objects will allow. And the neighbours, of course – or not, if they’re unpleasant. Matrix is the CD of ideal choice for anyone in possession of one of those cars with ultra-violet lights attached to the underside and huge great bass bins which are known to cruise city streets by night, blasting all and sundry with the appalling low-end residue of Swingbeat and Garage. Or even better, one of those quad bicycle-powered sound systems seen at street parties. Perfect revenge on anyone who has inflicted Top Ten misery on the neighbourhood – take Matrix for a spin around the block, laze away the summer daze in the garden or on the porch, experiment with the acoustic properties of the serried ranks of wind-tunnel towerblocks and railway arches, or simply pop it on in the kitchen while washing some dishes. [Frequency, net]

Ikeda’s music comprises sine waves, digital tones, subsonic pulses, minimal technoid rhythms and microscopic noise particles. Hence, it’s often discussed in austere, abstract terms, as ‘art’ to be exhibited under glass (or in the Millenium Dome, where Ikeda had a polite ‘installation’). Play it at bastard volume in a crowded room, though, (like we did in the Muzik office) and reactions range from “my teeth hurt” to “I need the toilet” to “I’m going insane”. In short, then, it’s music for the body as well as the mind (heard that somewhere before?) – it provokes responses, spreads confusion and sounds like nothing else on Earth. It’s the accidental punk rock record of the year so far. Tom Mugridge VITAL RELEASE 5/5 ‘LEFTFIELD’ page MUZIK Feb 2001

Ryoji Ikeda has this year exhibited ‘Matrix (for an Anechoic Room)’ at the ICC, Tokyo and ‘Matrix’ at the Millennium Dome, London. This double CD release is presumably some kind of translation of those works from public arena into private living space, perhaps to further facilitate Ikeda’s stated desire that the individual listener experience their own “intrapersonal music”. ‘Matrix (for Rooms)’, comprising ten tracks on CD1, is composed from various layered and sustained sine tones and overtones which vary gradually (usually on or near track boundaries) over the 60 minute duration. To dispel any initial doubts there may be regarding its nature let it be said that this is no clinical or scientific exercise. The tones are sensuous and invite interaction. They bathe the room (if played at sufficient volume) and create moir? patterns which dance (albeit in slo-mo) but which are sometimes so pronounced that a head movement is enough to elicit a shift in rhythm and effect. The tones also pulsate, alternately reinforcing and cancelling, and set up arhythmic parabolic movements like those of a faltering gyroscope whose spin has spun out. The work is insistent: it demands attention and a willingness to vary the listening position. (Not surprisingly the effect is lost and is altogether less engaging (read: flattened) on headphones.) However, small effort and some tenacity is amply rewarded. An uplifting experience from start to finish, albeit one which which is unlikely to have you hitting ‘play’ again straight away. The ten tracks on CD 2 which make up ‘.matrix’ can perhaps be seen as a continuation along the line of Ikeda’s stunning ‘Headphonics’ and although made from the same sine-tone-stuff as its counterpart on CD 1 it is a more rhythmically-orientated set. Ikeda deploys thudding heartbeats and microscopic pinprick clicks to equal effect; bleeding together pulsating tones, hisses and blinking LEDs he makes full use of the stereo plane. The ten parts can be taken in in one perfectly measured sweep. Easy listening. [GM, Array, UK]

Didn’t like this one at first, now I think it’s a steely glacial meisterwerk. My scepticism of computer music increases on a daily basis, but there’s more ‘work’ I hear from slapdash amateurs footling about with their thousand-pound laptops, the more I can appreciate the monumental qualities of Matrix. I saw Ryoji Ikeda doing his thang live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall some time ago – probably at start of year 2000. His music makes a lot more sense when played over a massive PA and with no restraints on the volume – which equals no respect for the eardrums and nervous systems of the listeners. Sure, he works exclusively with ‘pure’ digital tones – nothing human about it whatsoever – but when played massively loud, these tones assume a scale that commands respect. They penetrate your barriers with a precision that is matched only by the cartographers of the arctic waters. In fact, Ikeda’s music might make a good scientific tool in that area of research, tracing the contours of empty snowdrifts and formless lumps of ice, by sonar. While at the QEH, he displayed nifty visuals – or incredibly banal visuals, depending on how much patience you’re prepared to expend. As I Recall, there were two ‘modes’ of visual stimulation on offer. One was a series of bands or lines moving across a huge projected computer screen, in time with the ‘music’; a network of spidery digital information creating a totally abstract pattern that matched the sounds. The second visual feast was slowed-down footage of young Japanese workers in the Tokyo underground system. Whoever made this video was mainly interested in the white walls of the subway; the human beings were literally framed out of the picture. Nonetheless, they were there. It was halfway between an art installation and an advert sponsored by the airline – which in real terms is probably where Ikeda-san would like to be, both monetarily and aesthetically. The packaging of this new release is spartan – back to the basics that characterise his other release4s for the Touch label. Credited to CCI and Minitron, it’s lots of tiny blue squares set in rows. Op-Art style. Inside the gatefold are number series (ones and noughts) instead of track titles, a familiar trope these days which indicates some sort of hang-up about a computer’s binary data. I thought we’d all gotten over that one when absolutely nothing happened to computers on 01/01/2000, except they suddenly became more expensive. Well, that shows you how much i know. Absolutely nothing! Musically, what we got here is two ‘versions’ of ikeda’s Matrix suite, a title that refers to the purely mathematical and to the dictionary definition of the word; matrix can mean ‘a place where things or ideas are developed’. And the ideas here certainly develop – as you’ll find if your memory is up to the task of tracing the changes, which is tough work. The second disc is the ‘normal’ version and is the more approachable of the two – it has that series of stripped-down clicks and bleeps which, on occasion, form patterns and build up to a ‘funky’ rhythm. There are none of the impertinent voice samples or dramatic edits which clutter up Ikeda’s early work – absolutely nothing but pure electronic tones. If you think listening to this disc is murder, wait’ll you try the ‘Matrix for rooms’ version. The high tones and bass tones are as ferocious as each other, and round here they caused every plate in the house to tremble in fear (including my dental plate, you young whippersnappers). The sounds proceed to reverberate inside your head as they slowly fill up your room. The idea is that you move around inside your dormitory while the disc is playing, thus transforming the pitches accordingly to your personal needs and desires. Not a new trick, as Charlemagne Palestine, Sachiko Matsubara and others will inform you, but still rendered extremely effectively. I’m getting fitted for the ear-trumpet tomorrow. A CD like this would make a good trap for destroying my enemies; if i could play it to them loud enough, in an underground chamber, it would shred them alive, slice by slice. There are at least three enemies at my workplace who need destroying; if anyone out there would care to join my revenge squad, please get in touch care of this magazine. [Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector]

De Japanner Ryoji Ikeda heeft sinds begin jaren negentig terecht een bijzondere plek binnen actuele elektronica verworven. Met werkstukken als het vroege 1000 Fragments (1985-1995) – een half jaar geleden opnieuw uitgebracht – ontwerpt hij composities en technieken die een brug moeten slaan tussen de techno•de clubcultuur en het sinustoonminimalisme. Het lang aangekondigde maar steeds uitgestelde Matrix bekroont met een dubbelcd de trilogie die hij startte met +/- (1996) – een schot in de roos waar hij prompt de gegeerde en ondertussen ook gecontesteerde ostenrijkse Prix Ars Electronica mee ving – en vervolgde met zero degrees (1998). Opnieuw verkeert de klanktechnicus voor theater (bij de dansers van Dumb Type), componist, muzikant, deejay en beeldend kunstenaar (met de Japanse vormgeversgroep CCI maakte hij werken voor onder andere Sonic Boom in de Londense Hayward Gallery) in topvorm. Opgevat als een dubbelluik, valt Matrix uiteen in matrix (for rooms) en .matrix, netjes over twee schijfjes gespreid – een techniek die eerder werd toegepast op Time/Space (1998). matrix (for rooms) gaat het verder in de exploratie van de relatie ruimte-geluid die Ikeda zo boeit. In een begeleidende tekst duidt hij dat werkstuk als een onzichtbaar patroon dat de ruimte vult en zichzelf transformeert en vormt, afhankelijk van de positie van de luisteraar in de kamer. En die nogal abstracte omschrijving blijkt bij beluistering te kloppen. Opgesplitst in tien delen (naam gegeven in binaire cijfercombinaties tussen 0000000001 en 1000000000) lijken de tegen de grens van het ultrasone zwevende geluiden van matrix (for rooms) te functioneren als een radar in de kamer. De aftastende kracht van het vibrerende geluid zorgt ervoor dat je als luisteraar soms de fysieke ervaring van duizeligheid of het verlies van evenwicht ondergaat. Het tweede deel .matrix pakt het helemaal anders aan, al vertrekt Ikeda van hetzelfde ultrasone startpunt. Rond een sinustoon construeert de Japanner een patroon van cracks, clicks en plops die halfweg .matrix cumuleren in een strakke funky ritmiek en vervolgens weer worden neergelegd. Met Matrix sluit Ikeda zeer geslaagd zijn trilogie rond ultrasone klanken af. En opnieuw toont hij – tot in de vormgeving van de hoes – zijn nauwe band met wiskunde en binaire codes. Benieuwd of de man opnieuw een dermate gelaagd onderzoek van een sonoor thema zal aanvatten. [Ive Stevenheydens, tijd cultuur, Belgium]

Ryoji Ikeda has all the tones in the world to work with and utilizes them sparingly. The liner notes refer to a spacial functionality at work here – apparently ::Matrix is specifically designed to work within a space, supplying sounds that can be appreciated from different points within a room or in motion from point to point. After several listens I’ve some to a more simpleminded understanding of the album. The first disc contains extended, slower developing tones while the second has particular, discrete sounds that come pretty close to being syncopated and somewhat melodic. Pulse, grit, hiss, and hum are all worked together in a careful balance. There are moments that inspire toe tapping (mostly on the second side) and there are moments that will clear out your sinuses. It works well – either disc holds up on its own merits and the second especially reminds me of +/-, the album that first convinced me of Ryoji Ikeda’s special place in the world. For a lot of folks this may seem nothing less than noise and less than music as well. Ryoji Ikeda exposes the building blocks of what he does and the effect is sort of like seeing the frame of a house standing in mid air. But you have to imagine a ceiling floating in air without any connection to the ground to get the full effect of what is sonically achieved here. [Bruce Adams, Your Flesh, USA]

Some records are designed to provide a peculiar listening experience. You won’t listen to Matrix very often (at least not the first CD – chances are you’ll listen to it only once), but you might be glad you did. Disc one contains “Matrix (For Rooms),” a 60-minute piece. The concept is simple: the two stereo channels are completely separated, each one emitting a different frequency. They start in almost-unison and develop on top of each other. These frequencies are designed to fill the listening room with sound waves and the listener is invited to create his own music by moving into the room, especially by shifting the position of his head, changing the balance between frequencies, and thus altering the sound he hears. Simply put: Since the soundwaves overlap differently at any two points of the room, if four people are in the room, each one hears different music. Listening to “Matrix (For Rooms)” with headphones would strip it of any meaning. But it is perfect for tai chi exercises and avant-garde dancers might find something very stimulating here. Disc two contains “.Matrix,” a 31-minute piece. More conventional in the fact that stereo channels are not isolated, this is an avant-garde electronic piece. A light low-frequency pulse gives it structure while pure tones bounce from left to right. Each one of the ten sections is different from the previous: tempos and rhythm structures change, although tone colors remain quite the same. The whole thing feels very dry and the hypnotic stereo games and pure electronic tones can even have a sickening effect on the listener. Matrix is extreme conceptual music, something that is better experienced in a large hall than in your living room, but curious minds might want to try it. (Francois Couture, AMG)

“Matrix” on Touch is a meditative series double CD that works with tones. It almost works like a homing device or a device that allows sound [oto] to identify space. It works the way Aube does with mounting waves of logarithmic tympanic dishevelment and a condition that can only be described as diuretic and constitutionally destabilizing. I mean this material just sits inside and plays with your marrow. The Japanese contemporary tone musicians have an incredible ability to find beauty in austere zen-like self-restraint. I see Ryogi, as a child, playing those early stereophonic tone/frequency test records and then finding the same sounds on an African thumb piano. Somehow, my brainwaves start to synchronize with these pure tones and I find the compositions not only meditative but clarifying – like a squeegy cleaning the forebrain’s windshield. [Wreck This Mess, Amsterdam]

Terra (Poland):

Dwup?ytowy album g?ównego przedstawiciela estetyki wysublimowanych pisków zainteresuje tylko wytrwa?ych amatorów meandrów estetycznych dozna?. Pierwszy kr??ek zawiera tylko i wy??cznie pulsuj?ce sinusoidy, nic poza tym. Zero bitu, zero szumu, zero przej??, ci??, zero waha? dynamiki. I – co nie dla wszystkich mo?e by? oczywiste – zero nawi?za? do filmu pod tym samym tytu?em. Tylko pulsuj?ce, ci?gn?ce si? d?wi?ki. Ikeda dra?ni s?uchacza, realizuj?c konceptualne posuni?cia pe?niej ni? na poprzednich p?ytach. To zdecydowanie nie jest album do delektowania si? w wygodnym fotelu z na?o?onymi s?uchawkami. Ale i to nie jest to nic nowego – trudno kontemplowa? jego wcze?niejsze produkcje w ten sposób. Nie jest to równie? nic z?ego. W zalewie p?yt tylko i wy??cznie do s?uchania, mo?e warto skusi? si? na co? zupe?nie innego? Pierwszy kr??ek nosi podtytu? “for rooms” i, jak sama nazwa wskazuje, najlepiej sprawdza si? w zamkni?tych przestrzeniach. Poprzez wykorzystanie pulsuj?cych sinusoid, czyli d?wi?ków o w miar? jednolitej charakterystyce, (wahni?cia w cz?stotliwo?ci i dynamice s? jednostajne i sta?e, zmieniaj? si? tylko nieznacznie wraz z up?ywem czasu), Ikeda wkracza na pole zajmowane do tej pory przez akustyków, czyli ludzi paraj?cych si? umieszczaniem d?wi?ku w pomieszczeniach. P?yn?ce z g?o?ników fale wydaj? si? statyczne i monotonne, lecz wystarczy dos?ownie uszy? g?ow?, by okaza?o si? jak zawodne s? nasze uszy. Wskutek odbi? o ?ciany pomieszczenia ods?uchowego, pierwsza cz??? “Matrix” o?ywa z ka?d? zmian? pozycji w przestrzeni przez s?uchacza. Gdy po raz pierwszy us?ysza?em t? p?yt? w domu mojego dobrego kolegi (odtwarzana by?a z niepozornych, komputerowych g?o?ników), zosta?em zach?cony do swobodnego poruszania si? po domu. Nie mog?em uwierzy? w?asnym uszom! By?em zwodzony za ka?dym krokiem. Mimo, i? g?o?niki znajdowa?y si? w innym pomieszczeniu, bez trudu by?em w stanie zlokalizowa? ?ród?o d?wi?ku. Oczywi?cie za ka?dym razem dobiega? on z innego punktu, ni? mog?oby si? wydawa?. Ta na pozór oczywista cecha fal d?wi?kowych w przypadku “muzyki” tak oszcz?dnej i esencjonalnej uleg?a wyeksponowaniu i uwypukleniu.
Lecz lokalizacja to jedno. Drug? cech?, która modyfikuje si? wraz ze zmian? naszego po?o?enia podczas s?uchania, jest wysoko?? d?wi?ku i swoiste “filtrowanie”, któremu podlega d?wi?k podczas podró?y pomi?dzy g?o?nikami, ?cianami a naszymi uszami. Wystarczy obni?y? g?ow? o kilkana?cie centymetrów, nie mówi?c ju? o jej obróceniu o kilkadziesi?t stopni, by wychwyci? wyra?n? ró?nic?. Raz s?ycha? basy, raz soprany, raz ?rednie z basami. Drugi kr??ek, “.Matrix”, nale?y traktowa? raczej jako bonus do konceptualnej, zwartej ca?o?ci “Music for rooms”. Te klimaty znamy ju? cho?by z rewelacyjnej “+/-“, nie mówi?c o ca?ej fali nagra? post-techno-minimalistów skupionych wokó? wytwórni Rastermusik. W porównaniu z nadaj?c? si? idealnie do sal galerii sztuki wspó?czesnej pierwsz? p?yt?, druga stanowi “przewidywalny”, acz daj?cy si? lubi? przelot po wcze?niejszych dokonaniach tego znakomitego japo?skiego artysty. [Kamil Antosiewicz]