Hideku Umezawa & Andrew Pekler “Two views of Amami Oshima”

Tropical and nautical themes are expected when Edições CN (and Lieven Martens generally) is involved in a project. Most incredible, however, is the breadth and depth those concepts provide and how, whether it’s Martens’ own solo work or those of other artists (in this case Hideku Umezawa and Andrew Pekler), continually surprise and expand your understanding of what those ideas can mean. Two Views of Amami Oshima follows-up the essential Multi Natural from Christina Vantzou as we head back to the islands.

The story behind Amami Oshima – an island where painter Isson Tanaka lived in isolation for nearly 20 years until his death – is fascinating. Umezawa, with other collaborators, put together a video installation on the island and he collected a lot of field recordings. Those recordings became the basis for these two side-long pieces with each offering its own perspective on Amami Oshima.

Umezawa processes the natural sounds into a shifting sonic landscape of alien insects and starlit nights. Terrain crumbles into inverted vistas as bright sequences of sine tones chase modulated natural sounds. Cascading electronic blips pierce the thick, humid air. Birds call out, drowned in airy synths, searching for the new horizon. While Umezawa scatters the dust around, covering boundless styles and ocean moods, there is comfort to the chaos. “Dokkyaku” is a stunning composition.

Pekler, on the other hand, has never visited the island but was inspired by Umezawa’s recordings and used them to make “Amami Remote Extension.” Echoing electronics smooth over jagged edges with hiss-laden ghost melodies. Both artists tour the island simultaneously, one drifting above the canopies while the other blazes through the thick jungle. Languishing in darkness as the spinning bird chorus sings for their collective lives, Pekler twists the soundscape into paranoia and catharsis. “Amami Remote Extension” is a mind-bending journey. 

Despite similar foundations, Umezawa and Pekler are riding different waves. Alternate realities are assembled on opposite axes where the edges overlap and grind together into a beautiful, cohesive whole. I want to visit this world, from above and below, and soak up its radian sonic rays.