Although current Tokyo residents Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Date have shared a friendship and collaboration dating back to 2006, Shizuku is actually their first release, appearing under their moniker Illuha (a play on the Portuguese word for “island”). The two share unusual histories that may give them a common perspective: Date was born and lived as a child in Sao Paolo, and Fuller is American but was raised in Japan. But it’s interesting to note how little these backgrounds seem to inform the music on the disc – perhaps reflecting the globalization of certain strands of experimental music, or these two individuals. There is no recognizable scene, ethnicity, or school of thought informing these pieces. There seems only to be a desire for a direct, unmediated experience.
Incidentally, the result happens to overlap deeply with the 12K aesthetic. We have drones waving like wheat fields, a combination of electronic and acoustic instruments, very clean sine-like tones, and the subtly organic use of nonmusical elements. Enoesque ambient drift on “Kie” is balanced by plaintive Mountains-style acoustic guitar on “Aikou.” Recorded in high fidelity inside a 100-year-old church in Bellingham, WA, the album manages to capture much of the expansive holiness that it yearns for, largely by carefully and expertly controlling the atmosphere.
The most surprising moment comes midway through “Seiya” in the form of a solemn recitation by the well-known Japanese Tanka poet Tadahito Ichinoseki. While this inclusion adds some level of drama, it’s also intensely jarring at first to hear a prominently mixed voice—a daring move by the duo. 12K defends this, suggesting that it, and the album as a whole, are in part responses to last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami; generally, Shizuku does possess a sense almost of resoluteness in affirming the connections of friends and loved ones.
Overall, though, this release is notable just as much for the transparency of the musicians, making it more widely applicable as well as intensely personal.