Artist: Sawako
Title: Yours Gray
Catalog Number: and/15
Release Year: 2004
Format: CD
Status: Sold Out

Track List:
01.
As:Unacir
02. A Message From Bed Of The Sea
03. Petit Garçon
04. Cache Cache
05. Night Midlight
06. Go To Ocean
This is the first full length CD for Sawako Kato and the first replicated CD release
for and/OAR. This is a perfect release for the Spring and Summer, and a
beautiful one at that.
Yours Gray shows Sawako's work begin to drift into slightly
different directions from her previous releases, with more ambient, and at times,
vaguely melodic flourishes that can evoke wistful hazy daydream memories of
childhood or perhaps lifetime dreams yet fulfilled. Obviously each listener can
derive what they wish from this music. All the more so, since Sawako's
paradoxical work tends to encompass deep contemplation, yet with no
premeditated intentions on her part.

This release features collaboration work with Toshimaru Nakamura, Kiyoharu
Kuwayama (Kuwayama/Kijima & Lethe), Mitchell Akiyama (Sub Rosa, Raster
Noton, Force Inc), Asuna (Lucky Kitchen), and Yuichiro Fujimoto (Smalltown
Supersound).
Blow Up   (October 2004)
A disciplined Zen grace that is raised to the nth power in the first official
album by tiny Japanese girl Sawako (see also her recent collaboration with
(Taylor) Deupree, a very good album on Spekk for the New Yorker, and the
12k compilation "Two Point Two"). A veritable storyteller, like Sophie Calle
and Wim Wenders as the press release suggests, with a background in
visual arts, Sawako perfectly embodies that idea of spontaneity urged by the
work of her American colleagues and her compositions contain field
recordings and little else; environmental in the most literal sense and
therefore adjoining, even though lighter than those of her
fellow-countrywoman Miki Yui, looking  like silky yarns wavering in the wind
with elegance and delicacy. In the end we want to point out the presence of
special guests such as Mitchell Akiyama on processed piano on Night
Midlight and Toshimaru Nakamura, recorded in the distance along with sea
and train noises as pure elements of the acoustic landscape, in Cache
Cache and Go To Ocean.  (Nicola Catalano)  
Ear / Rational   (August 2004)
Subtle sounds crafted from air and dust evoke light thoughts and
introspection. Tones drifting and overriding each other, texture wraps and
warps as if it is the sound wave drawn by watching water flow over a rock.
Slight scratching of what could be sand falling on a metal plate on track 4,
titled "Hole" may be the loudest sound here. A very solo disc to listen to,
playing this while talking to friends will cause the music to disappear. My
favorite sound is the tinny reverberated sound of a truck starting; recorded, it
sounds, through a long narrow pipe. This technique develops all sorts of
overtones and harmonics. Cool! Interestingly enough, they are doing work on
the roof of my office today, the footsteps and draggings I hear overhead, fit in
well with this music. (Don Poe)
Sands-Zine  (July 2004)
Sawako Kato è uno dei pochi personaggi culto di questo inizio millennio, e lo
è perché, a conti fatti, combacia perfettamente con esso, con le sue istanze,
con i suoi percorsi e con la sua silhouette.

Ha saputo gestire alla perfezione la propria immagine attraverso la
diffusione di CD-R autoprotti, la partecipazione a compilation in mp3, la
pubblicazione in alcune delle CD-R labels più apprezzate, la creazione di un
sito personale molto curato ed efficace, i contatti con le realtà indipendenti di
tutto il pianeta… Questa giovane ragazza giapponese è in grado di
insegnare a molti come si può fare, facendolo bene, il manager di se
stesso. I flyers che accompagnano il suo materiale promozionale sono di
una completezza e di un ordine perfetti, con annotazioni brevi e semplici sul
materiale stesso e, in più, particolareggiate informazioni sulla sua attività
passata, presente e futura… una manna piovuta dal cielo per chi deve
scriverne.

Kato Sawako ha saputo cogliere lo spirito dei tempi ed ha utilizzato al
massimo quelle che sono le possibilità offerte da un mezzo potente come
Internet. Un’autentica ‘tokyo digital mutation girl’, come recitano le parole
chiave poste alle porte d’ingresso del suo mondo virtuale.

Sono questi i motivi di un successo spropositato, non rispetto alla qualità, ch’
è reale, ma rispetto a una produzione musicale che, a conti fatti, è
praticamente prossima allo zero. Perché, posso affermarlo per esperienza,
una recensione su Internet di un suo CD-R, magari stampato in sole 300
copie, riceve molte più visite di una recensione a un disco di David Sylvian, e
posso assicurarvi che non si tratta affatto di cliccate dell’artista o dei suoi
amici. La conclusione non può essere che una: il popolo di Internet ama
questa ‘tokyo digital mutation girl’.

Ho scritto di ‘una produzione prossima allo zero’ e mi spiego meglio. Il CD-R
ha motivo di esistere solo per basse tirature, quindi una produzione basata
esclusivamente su quel tipo di supporto non può certo raggiungere un
pubblico così numeroso da giustificare la notorietà raggiunta dalla ragazza.
Inoltre questo tipo di supporto non viene trattato dalla maggior parte della
stampa, e quando viene preso in considerazione è guardato come materiale
di serie B o, peggio ancora, è esaminato in modo equivoco, senza spiegare
affatto di cosa si tratta. La maggior parte dei distributori, poi, non accetta in
consegna i CD-R.

Buona parte della pubblicità, se mai, gli è venuta dai pezzi piazzati su
Internet. Ma anche di questi se ne parla poco, e allora vuol dire che esiste un
tipo di pubblico evoluto, in grado di muoversi in modo autonomo rispetto alla
critica, alla promozione e alla pubblicità (cose che, spiace dirlo, a volte fanno
corpo unico). La giapponese ha probabilmente intuito la consistenza di
questi ascoltatori, ha saputo raggiungerli tramite una penetrazione a ‘rete’
ed ha fatto leva sul loro gusto per costruire una sua piccola mitologia.

Questo CD rappresenta l’opportunità di allargare una cerchia di pubblico già
consistente, un’opportunità che non vale solo per l’autrice ma anche per l’
etichetta, anch’essa rimasta confinata, fino a ieri, nell’universo della piccola
produzione su CD-R, e non è un caso fortuito che la and/OAR abbia deciso
di puntare proprio su Sawako per tentare il salto di ‘categoria’. La ‘tokyo
digital mutation girl’ non delude infatti le aspettative e sfrutta nel modo
migliore l’occasione che le viene offerta, e fin dalla lista delle collaborazioni
raccolte è possibile capire quanta accuratezza c’è dietro alla produzione di
“Yours Gray”.
La scelta dei pezzi, che privilegia sette tracce medio-brevi, è estremamente
felice. La struttura pacata e artigianale, morbida ma non languida, è affidata
a pochi tratti distintivi, e ne prendono forma acquarelli dai colori tenui, come
le foto che adornano la confezione, o come forme irreali di paesaggi visti al
lume di luna piena, magari coperti da un manto di neve, con i colori che
assumono un carattere magico e fantastico, mentre nello sfondo è possibile
udire il crepitio del silenzio. Arte semplice, povera, arte del quotidiano, del
vissuto, impressioni dettate da uno sguardo attento alla nuance del
mondo… arte impressionista e, dopo tanto espressionismo, ce n’era
davvero bisogno.

I brani sono tutti costruiti con registrazioni concrete, una spolverata di
pianoforte processato, un pizzico di onde corte radio, voci quanto basta…
poesia delle piccole cose che si tinge d’immenso. Gli episodi più curiosi
rispondono ai titoli di Petit Garçon, con l’autrice che scrive di aver
dimenticato quali suoni ha utilizzato, Cache Cache e Go To Ocean, entrambi
assemblati con field recordings raccolti nei pressi di una galleria dove, e
mentre, suonava ‘Toshi’ Nakamura. I percorsi di Sawako vengono
paragonati a quelli di Sophie Calle e Wim Wenders, ma io vedrei bene un
parallelo con la produzione solista di Valerio Tricoli, un altro giovane che sta
finalmente trovando la sua dimensione nel grande universo della musica.
Comprate questo disco e tenetelo stretto insieme a tutti i CD-R autoprodotti
di Sawako, se siete riusciti a metterci le mani, perché il futuro è dalla sua
parte.  (Etero Genio)
Touching Extremes  (October 2005)
In this brief series of ear movies, where snapshots of real world activities are
conveniently paired to disparate electronic sources, sound artist Sawako
brings out her view of a singular - if quite hidden - tuning between what's
perceived in our daily life and a combination of psychoacoustic materials
which assume a leading role in developing the raw document of a location
into a well determined mental state. In "Cache cache" Toshi Nakamura
lends his piercing controlled feedback to the ambience of what's described
as a "quiet residential area by the sea", while the best overall track for sheer
compositional skill is probably "Night midlight", an insinuating intercourse
between Sawako's processed sounds and voice and Mitchell Akiyama's
looped/treated piano. Concentrating her efforts in 36 minutes or so, this
woman breaks more than one barrier between simple brooding and active
listening, keeping many things unsaid - but visible anyway.  (Massimo Ricci)
Vital Weekly  (September 2005)
This CD is my introduction to the music of Sawako. There are 7 tracks with a
total time of just under 37 minutes. Some of the tracks are hardly longer than 2
minutes. That is rather unusual in the phonographic sound scene I would say.
The music in general is a mix of field recordings and electronic (or electronically
enhanced) sounds and the combination works very well indeed. All the tracks
have a gentle and quite still character that envelop the listener, inviting him/her
into Sawako's world. A world that is best described as gentle, quirky and created
with a lot of pleasure. But do not make the mistake of taking this too lightly: it is
very serious, but without getting heavy. Basically one of those works that has to
be heard in order to be appreciated. What more can I say? Listen!  
(Roel Meelkop)
Blow Up  (January 2005)

TOP RELEASES OF 2004:
- MOTION: Lookback Layback (12k)
- TAYLOR DEUPREE & CHRISTOPHER WILLITS: Mujo (Plop)
- MITCHELL AKIYAMA: If Night Is a Weed and Day Grows Less (Sub Rosa SR20)
- PATRIK TORSSON: Kolväteserenader (Häpna)
- MY JAZZY CHILD: I Insist (Clapping Music)
- THE KONKI DUET: Il Fait Tout Gris (Active Suspension)
- O.LAMM: Hello Spiral (Active Suspension)
- BOB VIDO: Interesting Results. Music By a Committee of One  (Sonic Arts Network)
- MARGARETH KAMMERER: To Be an Animal of Real Flesh (Charhizma)
- FOURCOLOR: Air Curtain (12k)
- SAWAKO: Yours Gray (and/OAR)
- OZ FRITZ: All Around the World (Sub Rosa)
- LUC FERRARI: Les Anecdotiques (Sub Rosa)
- MICHEL CHION / LIONEL MARCHETTI / JÉRÔME NOETINGER: Les 120 Jours    
(Fringes Recordings)

(Nicola Catalano)
Electronic Music 411   (October 2004)
French experimental netlabel Autres Directions In Music have entered the difficult
world of the online compilation, courtesy of their ambitious The Noise & The City
package: no fewer than thirty artists each providing a piece of text, a photo and a
track, all available for free download. The rules governing the production of the
latter were such that artists were invited to, "revisit their daily environment (urban
and sound), ... record sounds inside their city, then reprocess the material as
much as they like without adding any kind of rhythm or music". The label does in
its accompanying notes acknowledge the debt to Fallt's Invisible Cities project.

It's probably inevitable that the results are somewhat patchy, partly given the very
restricted 'rules' governing the project, but another important thing that
disappointed me was the lack of variety in how the artists utilised their source
material. Although obviously some people used a mixture of the two
approaches, basically they either compiled a 'collage' of field recordings on the
one hand, or else manipulated these recordings to then make more
straightforward 'musical' elements (percussion sounds made from samples of
trains, that kind of thing), and so construct a pretty much regular track from there.

There are some nice tracks, sure - Sora and The Remote Viewer are
tremendous, plus Robokoneko is also pretty good
- but I suppose that I listened
to this compilation in the context of currently being immersed in the genuinely
stunning Sawako album Yours Gray - and here we're moving off into actual CD
territory - on the experimental and/OAR label. It's not entirely made out of field
recordings in the way that The Noise & The City (TN&TC) is, but there's certainly
a comparison to be made in terms of how she has approached the making of
her music - and the result is that Yours Gray is just so much more affecting than
anything on the Autres Directions collection. (To be fair, having heard a lot of
Sawako's mp3s in the past and been intrigued if not totally convinced, I was
really unprepared for the album to be quite so overwhelming.)

This is especially true in the way that she isolates sounds, uses the incredible
power of silence and conveys the idea that every element of sound in her work is
perfectly considered and correctly positioned. The more randomised collage
approach of a lot of TN&TC of course can lead to some interesting textures, etc.,
but generally in the hands of - to be frank - lesser artists, it's not going to bring
about the creation of something profoundly exciting.

In contrast, Sawako is able to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the nature
of both sound and (vitally) time in the context of composition and performance.
An example of how this works in practice is the first time my wife - and she's not
really into this kind of thing at all - and I listened to the album, after it had finished
we continued our conversation literally at the level of a whisper for the rest of the
evening, without even realising what we were doing: Yours Gray is simply
astonishingly successful at re-contextualising sound.  (Mike Innes)  
Improvised Music From Japan - 2005 Edition  (December 2005)
An electronic soundscape of pure tones, but not like pop music; the dignified
attitude of the artist penetrates the album. Sawako's works here ranges
widely, from pastel-tone songs like innocent childhood memories, to
abstract pieces that sound like the rumbling of the earth. Besides
electronics, field recordings of various environmental noises, such as wind
chimes and the chirping of insects, are effectively used. Her mix of
Toshimaru Nakamura's live performance at a seaside open gallery as part of
a neighborhood environmental soundscape shows a fresh , original
sensitivity that is totally free from the fixed image of conventional Japanese
sentiment.  (Yuko Zama)
E / I  Magazine  (Winter / Spring 2006)
None embody the preservationist ethic more than Sawako. A study group at
Keio University, the Faculty Of Environmental Information once designed a
park of biotropic landscapes for a rapidly sprawling exurban development in
Madrid with no hydration system, such that within the biotrope,
chip-controlled modules called "water trees" would analyze water tables,
purification statistics, and subsequently purify the wetlands by re-directing
"secondary effluent sewage" below the surface. As a former student, the
rhizoid roots of
Yours Gray - Sawako's acoustic-ecological exploration of the
tensile human nexus between technological innovation and nature - run
deep into the FEI's philosophical substrate. Embosomed within field
recordings of water, sand , clocks, spoons, and her own voice, she creates a
wide-horizoned morphology of sonic phenomena distinguished by an
inventive harmonic playfulness rare among her peers. Though the
collaborative tracks are not always obvious given her fluid, botanical
sensibilities (cf., Mitchell Akiyama's muscular instrumental processing,
Toshimaru Nakamura's sine wave asceticism) the results are portmanteau
portraits of environmental interaction as cybernetically progressive as
architectural cyber-solutions for thirsty 21st century cities.  
(William S. Fields)
Smallfish  (July 2006)
This work predates Sawako's more well known albums for Community
Library and 12k by a couple of years, yet there's a definite similarity between
the work on all 3 albums. Sawako seemingly uses field recordings as a
large part of the inspiration for this CD and, as opposed to the more melodic
processing that's used on later work this has a stripped-back and reduced
feel that's very appealing indeed. It's almost as if the source material is
enough and doesn't need any extra tinkering with...  the means more than
justifies the end. Subtle shifts in sound work to engage the listener and it's,
at times, like listening to a little corner of Japanese life unfolding before you.
For that you can read that I thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend it
as an excellent companion to the other albums. Lovely stuff.  (Mike Oliver)