AMN Reviews: Koji Asano – Polar Parliament

Koji Asano, “Polar Parliament” (Solstice)

Koji Asano (b. 1974) is a wildly prolific, self-publishing, stubbornly single-minded composer. Born in Japan, he spent a handful of fruitful years in Barcelona before recently returning home. He has composed for dance, video and various small ensembles but mostly records solo works, releasing forty-six albums on his own imprint in the past fifteen years, following an idiosyncratic lodestar only he can see.

He first came to this reviewer´s attention with “Preparing for April”, solo piano recorded in mono, compressed and tinny, melodiousness teetering dangerously close to the edge of dissonace without ever quite falling off. This is the liminal region in which he feels most comfortable and the listener most discomfited; his “instrument” of preference is feedback.

Asano has never failed to bemuse, though not necessarily beguile. His music is challenging, to say the least, and aimed at sophisticated, if not downright jaded, noise afficianados. The two extended, untitled tracks on “Polar Parliament” are as close to his “signature sound” one might get. The first rotates in elliptical cycles, a violinist trying to rub the laquer off his instrument with his thumb, while the second starts off like an overloaded washing machine trying to morph into a radio. While the first is both literally and figuratively abrasive, the second has an uncanny way of drawing in the listener. Somehow, the apparatus acquires a personality, and you find yourself rooting for it to succeed. At whatever it is attempting.

Stephen Fruitman