Tujiko Noriko Blurred in My Mirror

Recent times have seen a return of the human voice as an important element in experimental music, both in song and spoken word. Artists like Valerie Trebeljahr of Lali Puna, Antye Greie of AGF and Swedish trio Midaircondo have been producing affecting and forward-looking work. With previous and soon-to-be-released albums on prestigious labels like Mego, FatCat and Tom Lab, Tujiko Noriko’s output has been on par with the best of these. Joined on this release by Australian composer and multimedia artist (and Room40 label boss) Lawrence English, Noriko straddles the genres of pop, folk and electro-acoustic composition. Tracks like the opener, "Niagara Hospital,” are the kind of speak-sing performances pioneered by Laurie Anderson’s work in the ’80s. Next up, "Tablet for Memory” more closely resembles the jazz/lounge noir of Portishead. The Japanese language pieces are the most exploratory, binding abstract sound combinations to acoustic guitar and near-atonal chants. English’s electronic soundscape is the seat of strength and adaptation throughout. It is a barrage of tones and textures that shifts ceaselessly, yet somehow manages to stay neatly concealed beneath Noriko’s breathy voice. And a compelling voice it is. (Room 40)