Before listening to the three tracks that lie on the latest output of the Berlin-by-way-of-Japan composer, I had impetuously brushed off this artist on the sole basis of his artistic philosophy. While I now understand Â that doing so was somewhat (or perhaps considerably) against the very nature of art, in that I harbored some skepticism based on confusion, the reason for my inchoate conjecture was mostly due to the annoyance at the ubiquity of similar statements. It seems that experimental and conceptual artists are very fond of giving quotes during interviews that seem to only make sense to them. Thankfully those remarks, however indecipherable, are rarely a true representation of the actual music which, on this particular release, continues to hold true. Even after the first spin I realized how fallacious my first interpretation had been.
Tetsuya Hori is not an innovator, nor the first of his kind; many artists before him have used prosaic objects as catalysts for expressive art, including Â other modern composers such as Giuseppe Ielasi, specifically seen on his album Tools. Here, however, Tetsuya has clearly distinguished himself from contemporaries by crafting a beautiful album with a surprising array of emotions. Whereas Tools focused on using mundane objects as strictly percussive instruments that eventually formed a confluent whole, Dried Fish blurs the line between instrument and object, allowing the listener to truly get lost in the piece and explore the emotions within. There is a conscious sense of humor that permeates each track, especially in the utilization of Izumi Oseâ€™s voice, but it succeeds in a way that does not encumber the versatility of response.
Each track, while containing many similarities, are ultimately efficacious as separate entities. The first track, Kappa, perfectly encapsulates the talent of Izumi Ose. While she is also not the first woman to use indistinguishable sounds and yelps to convey feelings of anger, happiness, sadness, or anything in between, the method in which Hori deploys her incantations seems meaningful,Â much unlike the plague of inutile shrieks exhibited by many contemporary vocalists. Intermezzo, on the other hand, focuses more on Tetsuyaâ€™s ability to craft a beautiful interdependence between a classical instrument (piano) and something more banal (a cigar box). It is also a perfect segue way into Dried Fish is Just As Good as Bait, one of the best tracks Iâ€™ve heard all year. Not only does it contain the climax and resulting denouement, but also a convergence of the two artists at their best. Hori explores new territory by using Izumi as both a vocal and face artist, an aspect of which can only be experienced by buying the physical version of the album. While some may brand this technique as fatuous and facile (even I succumbed to such temptation on first glance), it in fact successfully creates the truly enigmatic feeling of interaction with art on multiple levels, extending the interdependence of sound and visuals past the requisite cover art. Itâ€™s an experience very hard to achieve in an age where listening to music is commonly used as tertiary entertainment.
As for the â€śconcept with no conceptâ€ť business, well, that is up to the whim of the listener. Some may discover that it is actually crucial to form the experience of the album, while others could claim it unnecessary. In either case it doesnâ€™t matter, the music speaks for itself.