Takanobu Hoshino – Untitled

At one time Japanese sound artist Takanobu Hoshino’s art was seemingly concerned with the crackling Geiger counter air of his home city Fukushima. The ubiquitous residual glint of radioactivity permeated his creations, for example the CD ‘Fukushima’, a collaboration with Roel Meelkop, contained tracts of near silence that held menacingly tiny yet ominous particles. Little more.

The tension inherent in Hoshino’s entire catalogue is that between the modern world of nuclear power: A precarious construction  designed to feed a hunger for energy by harnessing an elemental force, and the ancient Jomon culture: The earliest civilisation of Japan coinciding with the Neolithic Period in Europe.

To juxtapose these two ideas, one built on the remains of the other, the cover of the CD ‘Fukushima’ features a beautiful photograph of a Jomon vessel, highly sophisticated in its ornamentation and clearly the product of an advanced civilisation. Of course the Jomon period is now a distant, vanished ghost, and as our age of nuclear power clings on at the edge of catastrophe, maybe the parallels are obvious.

All this is to set the stage for this new work from Hoshino, which is a plunge out of a charged, irradiated modern Japan and into the womb of nature’s vortex. The strength of water and the scouring of wind, the cleansing of rain and the shifting of rocks beneath the earth. To quote Hoshino this is ‘The warning from Nature. I suggest a move back to the primitive and simple life style. Humans belong to the animal nature on the earth’.

These six works are all enveloping and total. To me Hoshino is saying that however we try to tether these fundamental forces for our own needs, nature will always override our feebleness in the face of an unruly universe. Water as a world in itself is ever present and signifies a barely comprehended element. The cradle of life and the destroyer of life.

Banko, the opening track presents a watery nature with a man made voltage operating within it. The hum and drone of electrical activity, powerful and unforgiving, like substations or cables leaking fluctuating energy fields subsides to birdsong and gentleness.


An example: Midnight: Track six.

dripping from the roof


a darkness of falling water

deep in a cavernous ground

possibly a tunnel

wet rocks


slows and speeds up


sometimes metallic



faint hum

air moving/vibrating/humming/beneath/behind/above/around

something is removed


inside silence again


I do have a problem with collections entitled ‘Untitled’. All the tracks have names and there seems to be common, unifying thread connecting each piece. It isn’t a ragbag of odds and ends, at least it doesn’t sound like one. I think people misinterpret the importance of fixing things in place by naming them, not least these days when things can be searched for online. If the tracks can be given names, then why not the whole assemblage?

This minor quibble aside, Takanobu Hoshino has unique a world to explore and absorb. Untitled forms a perfect companion piece, and in a way an extension of some of the themes in Ancient Star Story of Asia.

Untitled is a free download from the Echomusic label.
Takanobu Hoshino – Untitled

Chris Whitehead

Sound artist.