Nobukazu Takemura Scope

Scope is something different for Japan's producer of elegant trip-hop, who releases a second experimental CD after the recent Funfair disc on Bubblecore. The 22-minute opening "On A Balloon", is a musique concrete piece that mixes Oval-ish sounds and the skimming of a CD with computer-type tones, hisses, people talking, vinyl scratches and what sounds like the working of the pedals of a pump organ (without the resulting music). Unfortunately, despite some cool sounds, the sophomoric effort lacks any momentum or overall shape — not what you'd expect from someone who is a DJ. A second Oval-ish track "Icefall" also leaves a bitter taste, as it is simply a nice melodic electronic piece sped up in search mode. "Kepler" is more interesting, a pretty minimalist track inspired by the astronomer's measurements of the orbits of the planets in our solar system. Using vibes, chimes, female voice, harp, gamelan and Terry Riley-like organ parts, Takemura sets the planetary rotations in motion — the closest ones as fast loops, others in circular patterns and the far ones as drones. The closing "Tiddler" is also nice, a Bach-ish contrapuntal finger exercise with the kind of naivete that similar tracks by Aphex Twin and µ-Ziq share. (Thrill Jockey)