Wednesday, May 4, 2011

河野円 (Madoka Kono)

Who: Madoka Kono (河野円)
What: Tape player feedback

Madoka Kono is my favourite performer amongst the new batch of "Improvised Music from Japan" schoolers. At its simplest, her performance is two empty walkmen, plugged into a behringer mixer, and jammed on record/playback mode. The position of the tapeplayers relative to each other and the speakers then creates a reverby feedback loop with a rhythm provided by the stuttering of the locked walkman motors. It's a simple setup with a complex sounding result.

Lately she's added more elements to her supremely minimal setup: up to two metronomes and two additional tape players. At first I was concerned that these additions detracted from the purity of her concept without adding anything compelling to the sound. However, I was recently lucky enough to see her play such a "maximalist" set at enban and it was very good. The extra tape players created a drone controlled by their proximity to the empty walkmen, and the metronomes, used very sparingly and at their slowest tempo, created interruptions in the feedback which periodically reset the sound allowing the feedback to reestablish itself in unpredictable ways. Even the metronome bell was used to great effect: the line between the sound of the bell and the consequent feedback was blurred creating an intriguing illusion of a prolonged chime.

Madoka describes what she's trying to do better than me here.

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