Shinobu Nemotu, Improvisations #1 (Experimedia)
Despite the avant-garde title, the aggressively abstract, oversized slipcover design, and the fact that only 150 copies of this CD were pressed, Improvisations #1 is a surprisingly accessible disc. Japanese sound artist Shinobu Nemotu lays down five long tracks of textured, ambient drones—and if you told me the whole thing was by Sigur Ros, I'd just about believe you. Most of the album seems gently inspirational, like you're sitting in a darkened theater watching the camera pan majestically across the fjords.
As with most improvisational recordings, knowledge of the process definitely adds to the enjoyment—the pieces are all so intensely layered with shimmering feedback and drifting voices that it's hard to believe there's only one guitar, some sound boxes, and no overdubs. My favorite track is definitely the last one, where the more-or-less inspirational-soundtrack vibe is replaced with a more-or-less-horror-film vibe. A deep, ominous wail moves leadenly beneath swelling minor washes of sound, building to loud, scraping, painful static. Which is to say, whether you love metal or post-rock or shoegaze or electronica, these days the drony, noisy, hissing avant-garde seems like it's everybody's music.