The Algebra of Sets

Great album of processed instrumental drones by Yui Onodera. His Semi Lattice (BASKARU karu:37) is full of quietly overwhelming tidal waves of slow-motion sound, which he creates by working guitar and piano lines in the computer with the obligatory field recording layers and additional treatments. He’s inspired on this occasion by the work of Christopher Alexander, an architect who has proposed an abstract structure by this name. I’d be happy to align Yui Onodera with a number of other genius Japanese solo creators such as Koji Asano or Ryoki Ikeda who are capable of creating fully-realised, self-sufficient universes in sound, then leaving them for others to explore and chart while they set off across the horizon in their strange sky-boats.

If it helps to orient you, Onodera is probably far more romantic than the hermetic sunset-gazing Koji Asano, a man who is fascinated by unremarkable details; and he creates a world more tolerant of human passions than the strictly-demarcated tones of Ryoki Ikeda, that ruthless architect of enormous sci-fi virtual palaces in digital sound. Now that I think of it, he might be more akin to Rafael Toral, that soaring guitar-droner from Portugal, except that the works on Semi Lattice are much more rigourous in their composition and arrangement. Even so he manages to leave open ends as he builds, not closing off the listener into a walled garden, and in effect generating so much imaginary space that we might wander off the edge of the earth if we walked too far.

Considerable variety of excited-ambient textures across these seven tracks, each of which opens up a new vista in this geographical impossibility. Only occasionally for me does he over-smoothen the edges and drift into the tasteful realms, but even so the sentiment remains honest and at times quite moving in a nostalgic way. Onodera has made about a dozen albums since 2005, some of them released on his own label Critical Path, and has worked with Celer, The Beautiful Schizophonic, and others. From 21 September 2015.