Satoru Wono

Satoru Wono

Sonata for sine wave and white noise


I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable classifying this as music, even as I enjoyed it. Satoru Wono is working in a field nearly all his own; in some ways more like ambient sound effects for a university play set in a laboratory.

According to his record company, “Wono is a composer, producer, DJ, writer, critic and Assistant Professor of sound design at the University of Tama in Tokyo.” Nice work if you can get it. It’s difficult to know what to say about him as a composer without sounding either overly dismissive, which I do not want to do, or like a techno snob, which I’m really not, I liked Enigma just like the rest of you.

Okay. Let’s back up and talk techno for a minute. Strictly electronic music is nearly limitless in its possibilities, almost by definition; the limits are only what its creators can think up and execute.

The “Overture” starts with a series of bleeps and bloops that…well, actually it isn’t right to say that it starts with a series of bleeps and bloops, the whole thing, as the title suggests, is a series of bleeps, bloops and white noise. The kind of music that sirens and rattles from outside your window seem to mate with to produce intriguing variation.

Listening to this music, if music it be, is like being dropped into the middle of the city and having to find your way home blindfolded. The hum of machinery, the love of electronic sound for its own sake, this is what’s being played. Since the rise of sampling, you can even feature a soloist on cell-phone, as here; this cannot be judged as you might judge a trumpet player.

This is not synth-pop that may set a few ear-catching experimental sounds against a more traditional beat and song structure. Yet it’s not entirely unlike that either; it’s easy to imagine many of these sounds turning up manacled to the demonically charged rhythms of the dance.

This is an attempt to turn the sounds most of us have heard night and day for the past handful of years but never really listened to into something with reason, if not quite rhyme or rhythm. To take these sounds and create something which is, against several odds, an even and even satisfying listening experience is an occasion for quiet pride.

But it leaves you -• it left me, anyway — with two questions. One, I mean who the hell is really doing this kind of thing anymore, if ever? And: But is it art?

Satoru Wono: • Sonore:

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