(Obs 2012)

‘A Sampling +5’ is a release on the Observatoire label by Fukushima based sound artist Takanobu Hoshino. Recent releases by Hoshino include the CD Fukushima itself, which he made in collaboration with Roel Meelkop. It was intended as  a memorial and tribute to the people of the city enduring in the aftermath of nuclear disaster. It is in itself a superbly realised piece of work.

Opening with a series of Geiger counter-like clicks, the particles carried in the air seem to be charged, firing off like neurons over a fairly barren, possibly toxic landscape. A magnetic wind is blowing and a feeling of nuclear contamination seems evident. The title of this first track, ‘A Sampling +5’, suggests a scientific test. A measurement of environmental quality.

[press photo from the Fukushima distater courtesy of Cinabrio blog]

Becoming ever more aggressive and insistent, the metallic nature of these rattles and ticks increases over the 30 minute duration of the piece. The chatter of steel  locusts. Iodine-131, Caesium-134 and Caesium-137.  The legacy of meltdown.

I’m spreading out the three black and white photographs that come as part of the packaging for this release in front of me. Reflections, and the sight of an object beneath the reflections in two of the pictures. A  fish. Something like a Koi carp. The third photograph shows abstract light on the mirror of the water. This highlights in the mind the ecological aspect and the danger to nature of man made catastrophe.

Life in the Hot Spot opens with swirling, distant music and the sound of a city in flux. Traffic moves through an urban landscape. There is concrete and metal, overpasses and headlights. I see Fukushima during the day and night. Alive and vital still. Cafes and meeting places, shops and paved squares.

Finally The Voice of Rain brings a cloudburst over the city. It falls on rooves and pavements, on cars and people caught outside. It cleanses and purifies, or possibly carries something more sinister within the innocuous drops.

Formally this third track mirrors the opening piece in that it contains a staccato element as its central motif. This time the fall of rain patters and taps, rather than the synaptic tics of the first track. In between these two lies the living city of track 2, as if caught between forces it cannot control. On the one hand radiation, on the other the weather.

As a whole Hoshino is not afraid of space. There is plenty of open air, and many areas are left unpopulated by discreet sound. Just gentle winds and rain. Distant Japanese voices. A document of the present that illuminates an uncertain future. Like the air and the rain, this work by Takanobu Hoshino is elemental in its composition.

‘A Sampling +4’, a precursor to +5 has also been released by Obs and is available for free download. The accompanying illustration shows wild flowers growing in the grass beside a lake. There is an island in the water gradually being engulfed by a rolling mist.

-Chris Whitehead

Takanobu Hoshino discography
Obs website

Chris Whitehead

Sound artist.