y0t0 | nijisousaku

BLWBCK030 – Release date : February 25th, 2013
Tape {66 c.} C45 + digital

y0t0, or Year Of The Ox, is Charles Sage (Hessien, The Rothko Chapel) from New South Wales, Australia. Inspired by Blade Runner’s Voight-Kampf and the Carrousel of Logan’s Run, ‘Nijisousaku’ is eight scenes of hazy beats, freckled synth washes, cosmic drone and delayed guitar static assembled into a rough cut, featuring script revisions by Cex and Catlips; the soundtrack to a NASA transmission’s stumbling journey through the immensity of space.

Music by Charles Sage, with Rjyan Kidwell and Katie Campbell
Shot and edited MMXII
Mastered by Ian Hawgood
NASA audio and video footage from http://www.nasa.gov

1. Deckard (04:35)
2. As A Window Would Be, From A Fire (04:17)
3. Blue Mountains (Cex) (07:31)
4. Apollo (03:50)
5. Carrousel I (04:33)
6. Sunn Over Blue Mountains (Catlips) (06:20)
7. Carrousel II (04:30)
8. Armstrong (04:22)

Enhance 34 to 46.
Pull back. Wait a minute. Go right.
Enhance 57 to 19. Track 45 left.
Enhance 15 to 23.
Gimme a hard copy right there.


Of all the music genres, ambient music is perhaps the one that takes the greatest grip upon its admirers. Whether at a Stars of the Lid gig in a church in Hackney, listening to the seminal ambient works of Aphex Twin and Brian Eno or browsing through the various artists written about here on Fluid Radio, ambient producers have the ability to completely transfix the listener in an experience of the most wonderful aesthetic purity. The aforementioned artists have been so good at this that they have become almost like musical Dionysian Gods, mythical in their divine drones of primordial beauty. Without wanting to get more carried away than I already am, all that need be said of y0t0’s (Year Of The Ox) new album, the unspellable Nijisousaku, is that it does what those great ambient artists are so good at doing, transfixing you in their own ineffable worlds, deeply affecting. There really is little to fault about this album. Every single subtle underlying rhythm, the interweaving of sonic textures, the intelligent rises and falls of volume, they all cohere perfectly to create y0t0’s mesmeric world. The album is calm and warming and yet driven by the isolationist coldness that made Eno’s seminal Ambient series so legendary. On Blue Mountains (Cex) the Eno comparison is particularly true as, with ghostly screeches fading in and out of heavenly stringed drones, a spacey yet spellbinding trance ensues. And throughout the LP the intelligent crafting of the always melodic drones summons up that Stars of the Lid harmoniousness, reverbed resonances always so captivating. This is certainly the case on closing two tracks Carousell II and the stunning Armstrong. On Carousell II a Steve Reich evoking tremolo guitar gorgeously interweaves with pretty synth whirls and underlying glitched rhythms while on Armstrong a most perfectly infectious guitar chord progression, that could go on for ever, is harmonized by foreceful yet warming drones. The album is not just a chill out drone fest though. By tapping into other influences such as post-rock and even at one point techno, Nijisousaku possesses a dynamism that makes the album truly memorable. Vocal samples seemingly of an astronaut communicating with Earth enforce a cinematic feel that gives the album an underlying narrative (watch the Vimeo video for Armstrong and the NASA imagery used in the video, in combination with the music, is really very entrancing). By doing this the man behind y0t0, Charles Sage, continues to exhibit the influence of God Speed! You Black Emperor present throughout his blossoming catalogue and this is most clearly seen on second track As A Window Would Be, From A Fire (even the track title sounds like God Speed). But it is on centerpiece track, Sunn Over Blue Mountain (Catlips), where a techno riff gets subsumed by a haze of distortion and feedback that the album is really elevated into what will surely be one of the finest LPs of 2013. The techno riff combining with dancey rhythms and funky deep bass gives the album an edge that prevents it from being a mere Eno/Stars of the Lid/Aphex Twin replica – it helps to define Nijisousaku as being completely distinct in its own wonderful space. As Nijisousaku closes on the beautiful Armstrong, you can’t help but wish that it could somehow go on, that it didn’t have to end. Nijisousaku is a wonderful place to be – the point of any ambient album – and one can only hope that it is a place that many people will go to happily, letting Sage as y0t0 truly flourish as one of the finest producers around. – William Barns-Graham for Fluid Radio

y0t0 creates a mysterious album that combines the best of ambient and dreams. Beats on the album are mellow enough to barely register on most of the track. What remains are constantly swirling notes. Elements continually drift in and out of the listener’s perception. At times it appears that the album wants to go further in the sub consciousness. Many of the sounds on here contain large dollops of outright melody. By being kept deep in the heart of the tracks they remain far more potent. Various atmospheres manage to emerge out of this treatment.“Deckard” marks the beginning of ‘nijisousaku’ with one of the more active beats on the album. While the beat tries to make its presence felt the comforting sounds morph themselves out of the sonic ether to form a melody. For “Blue Mountains (Cex)” the sound drifts upwards. This remains one of the most elegant representations of what y0t0 is available to accomplish. “Apollo” takes an intense look as a sample plays over the entire gentle drone. These two effects are clearly opposed and create a degree of tension. Guitar strums color the track with a sense of sadness.Towards the end of the album tracks begin to change far more quickly. Such a song would be “Sunn Over Blue Mountains (Catlips)” which manages to combine several harsher elements into a single song. By the end of the track there’s only distortion. “Armstrong” the closing track ends off the album on a rather nostalgic note. Combining aspects of beats and atmosphere it ends up being quite a beautiful end to a beautiful album. – Beach Slot (7.8/10)

Sold out chez BLWBCK et par conséquent téléchargeable à prix libre sur le Bandcamp de l’Australien, ce dernier album en date de Charles Sage (Hessien, The Rothko Chapel) nous fait partager son fantasme rétro-futuriste d’exploration du cosmos, aux confins de la nostalgie qu’évoquent les pionniers de la conquête spatiale et d’une certaine fascination pour les dystopies mélancoliques de Blade Runner (Deckard, en référence au personnage principal incarné par Harrison Ford) ou L’âge de cristal (le fameux Carrousel, cérémonie qui limite la surpopulation en désintégrant les plus de 30 ans sous couvert de foi en la “renaissance”). L’artwork de Romain Barbot (Saåad), taulier du label toulousain, met immédiatement dans l’ambiance : sur Nijisousaku, pas de grands espaces à la fois paisibles et oppressants comme sur Uriarra Road (2011) dont les majestueuses plages de drones statiques émaillées de field recordings pastoraux et de mélodies bucoliques évoquaient le déclin rural et l’isolation des campagnes australiennes avec l’appui d’une demi-douzaine de musiciens amis. Ici le nom y0t0 (Year Of The Ox, “l’année du buffle”) perd en pertinence ce qu’il gagne en glamour et ce sera donc l’Espace tout court, celui avec un grand E des temps glorieux de la NASA lorsque les spectateurs ébahis attendaient des heures devant leur télé noir et blanc pour voir Armstrong fouler enfin le sol lunaire, cette époque révolue où rêve et technologie ne faisaient qu’un. Isolation toujours, donc, à l’image d’un Blue Mountains aussi claustro que fascinant, mais de cette solitude que tous les petits garçons du monde ambitionnaient d’affronter un jour en combinaison d’astronaute, au nom de la science, de l’aventure et du progrès. Pulsations de synthés épiques, distos de guitare oniriques et crescendos mélodiques se mêlent ainsi aux transmissions et interférences radio sur fond de drones scrutant l’horizon étoilé pour nous transporter dans une autre réalité, si lointaine et pourtant si proche, et nous faire expérimenter cette sensation qu’ont dû éprouver les voyageurs du programme Apollo en perçant les derniers mystères de notre proche univers – “Stream Of The Day” / Indie Rock Mag

Straight from New South Wales comes Charles Sage with his impressionistic y0t0 outfit. y0t0 follows the same hazy, woozy, synth-based path as 1991, except here more focus is put into dense, cosmic atmospherics, with space-related monologues weaved in between pulsing, ambiental soundscapes of analog synthesizer and guitars. Inspired by Blade Runner and Logan’s Run, y0t0 explores the thin border between human and machine and the ability to perceive emotions while surrounded by technology. Also, I can’t staring at that cover. Powerful! – Weed Temple

Quando la musica travalica i confini della propria monodimensionalità e diventa proiezione di una forma d’arte più complessa, non diventa un’esagerazione utilizzare la parola “trasecolare” per descrivere l’impatto con essa.
E’ proprio questa sensazione che si prova ascoltando Nijisousaku di yOto (Year of The Ox), progetto solista di Charles Sage (Hessien, The Rothko Chapel). Il disco concettualmente è una sorta di immaginario viaggio nello spazio che si ispira al Voight-Kampf di “Blade Runner” e il misterioso Carosello di “La Fuga di Logan”.
L’artista neozelandese da una direzione sci-fi alle sue otto composizioni costruite meticolosamente (ammirate le piccole scanalature di “Carrousel I” e le distorsioni calibrate di “Carrousel II”) con una efficace visionarietà: la space music si materializza con strutture ambient frastagliate, sezioni elettroacustiche, sfumature rumoristiche che in alcuni casi diventano l’unico elemento presente nelle composizioni stesse. Ma la presenza dell’elettronica, come si può ascoltare in “Deckard”, si fa anche consistente sovrapponendosi perfettamente allo strato armonico dell’arranegiamento. Sulle stesse basi si appoggia “As A Window Would Be, From A Fire” che introduce nel finale le prime incursioni di stampo noise.
Queste si faranno spazio nell’assordante ma calibrato incedere di “Blue Mountains (Cex)“, in contrasto con la linearità e la limpidezza di “Apollo”. “Sunn Over Blue Mountains (Catlips)” e “Armstrong” rappresentano gli episodi più sperimentali dell’album: la prima con beat minimali sempre più frequenti che si traformeranno in pungenti distorsioni; la seconda con una predominante presenza del rumorismo che cerca di contrastare la grazia di fondo del brano. Un lavoro ineccepibile quello fatto da Charles Sage che è riuscito a costruire la perfetta colonna sonora di quel viaggio immaginario che lo ha guidato durante l’intera composizione e realizzazione. Un punto di riferimento nel “genere” per quanto riguarda l’anno musicale in corso. – Son Of Marketing (7,3/10)