Friday, February 24, 2012

Brain Pulse Music from Masaki Batoh: A Review

Bridging the gulf between the experimental and the personal, we have Brain Pulse Music from Ghost's Masaki Batoh, out 28 February on Drag City.

Meant as an exorcism of the negativity following the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan, the record somehow terrifies and soothes, sometimes in the same track.

The effect is, frequently, one of dread turning into calm in the space of a few moments.

Given that, this isn't music that is easy to review; this is an album that is -- obviously -- more than a collection of songs so the music should be approached in that spirit.

Add to that the element of technology.

Masaki Batoh used a brain pulse machine to translate the brainwaves of patients traumatized by the earthquake into sound and music.

I don't know the science. I don't know if that's at all possible but I do like the idea.

So when listening to Brain Pulse Music with that awareness, one is confronted with that mix of dread-and-peace I hinted at earlier.

The 10-minute "Aiki No Okami" dominates the record and features traditional Japanese instruments and chants against noise and ambient effects. It's not the sort of thing that will appeal to every listener but I did listen to the track a few times in a row.

Writing about this is like writing about Mogwai. It's hard to express in words why it works but it works in spots.

That said, this is much more...experimental and diffuse. The "music" here requires patience.

But, as I find myself downloading singles from iTunes, it's nice to be faced with an album that requires that sort of dedication in a listener.

Brain Pulse Music is a work of (odd) art but it's an affecting one. Approached in the right spirit, the album will instill in a listener an idea of the trauma of the earthquake and a hint of the calm afterwards.

Still, the healing continues and the horror of that event will never be forgotten by the survivors.

Brain Pulse Music is out on 28 February on Drag City.