Takagi Masakatsu, Nudge
Thur Nov 1

Among the crop of burgeoning electronic labels in the US, only a handful are of relative quality. Not surprisingly, the chaff gets the frenzied dollars still trickling down from the high point of the electronica craze--which leaves the more esoteric, experimental labels to fend for themselves when it comes to getting their music to the masses.

What this all means is that when a Carpark Records tour comes to town, this time featuring Takagi Masakatsu's first-ever North American jaunt, it's a battle cry to go out and support the real shit. Not to mention the fact that Outward Music Company, Portland's own electronic torchbearer, is sending out the electronic/ acoustic battalion known as Nudge to support on the West Coast dates. Thankfully, both acts are more fun to look at than your average shorthaired, gray-clothed egghead behind a glowing screen. On their new full-length, Trick Doubt, floating drums, guitar, and flute are married to soundcard crunches, with a feel that's mathematical, but simultaneously loose and improvisational.

Takagi Masakatsu's debut album, Pia, is a two-CD personal compendium--the first, his unique brand of organic ambient, and the second, a CD-ROM featuring these same compositions set to video. With bits replacing reels and reams, he surpasses the average laptopper and deserves a promotion to full-fledged multimedia artist (he also designed the CD's packaging).

Masakatsu mixes so-called "found sounds" (his portable DAT captures everything from playgrounds to pet stores) with decidedly digital gurgling textures and chirps. What results is an extremely versatile volume of sound, not too ambient or wishy-washy, that also doesn't revel in masturbatory "listen to what I can do to this sample" type of junk. In other words, you can listen to it and be fully absorbed, or it's perfectly content to act as aural wallpaper. The video accompaniment is a furthering of Masakatsu's aesthetic: The hazy QuickTime images burp and turn in synchronicity to Pia's every buzzing lilt and shadowy swell, and suggest a swathe of stark color and urban imagery.