“One Hundred” is one of those records suitable for a Sunday afternoon with nothing really to do, average weather outside and lots of time to do nothing but listen to music and potentially reading a newspaper of magazine with it. There are records, which require close attention and are only bothersome if you don’t want to give that full attention (e.g. all those conceptual minimal sound art records). What sets “One Hundred” apart is that you can actually also listen to it next to doing something else. But if you do play close attention, it’s actually way more musically complex and rewarding than your average 43 minute layered mix of field recordings based on the theme of “the granularity of sand”.
Never having heard of either of the artists, the press sheet reveals that David Cunningham is a producer who has worked with David Toop, Steve Beresford and This Heat among others and is frequently involved in art projects. Yasuaki Shimizu on the other hand is a Japanese saxophonist who has also worked with a lot of known names (The Orb and Towa Tei among others). Apparently, it’s their first collaboration in 10 years and it’s definitely a concept album. Each tracks melts into the next one and only changes after a minute or so. So basically, “One Hundred” is one hour non-stop saxophone based ambient (that term doesn’t properly designate the music on the CD).
Sometimes, the music of David Cunningham and Yasuaki Shimizu sounds a bit like the repetitive minimal classical music of Philip Glass or Michael Nyman (David Cunningham produced his fantastic soundtracks for the Peter Greenaway films), for example on the first two tracks, “Cells” and “Dots” where the saxophone serves both as tact giver and as main instrument. On “Doors”, the saxophone starts to sound a bit more abrasive and experimental, but the disc is still very well listenable. Next, things start sounding both more ambient and flowing and also more 20th Century classical. “Corners” is a very fine piece of music which could maybe be compared to some of Popol Vuh’s soundtrack work, only played with a saxophone. Then comes the long “Traces” where Shimizu’s saxophone playing shows the most variety. It has a great theme, which he varies here and there, but also comes back to. The tune slowly becomes richer and richer and denser and denser and fully sucks the listener into a beautiful neverending spiral of sound. “Why me?” is roughly similar only that it features less saxophone and more piano and wordless vocals.
The last two tunes “Roots” and “Lines” go back to the more ambient vibe heard last on “Corners”. While “Roots” features the guitar as its most prominent instrument, Shimizu comes back with his saxophone on “Lines”, in full repetitive mode. After finishing the last bits of “One Hundred”, one can hardly believe that a full hour has passed. The sound on it is really so atmospheric and dense that everything outside of the music becomes irrelevant. So even if a listener was reading a newspaper or magazine next to it, it’ll probably be lying somewhere on the floor by now. An excellent release. 8/10 -- Stephan Bauer (4 March, 2009)