Fire In The Mind  (January 2007)
In the early eighties Mizutani was a member of Merzbow, but as you will hear
on this collection, he has since grown far away from that group's (now of
course the solo project of Masami Akita) hellish noise roller-coasters.

This is a double CD with field recordings collected from Mizutani's travels
throughout the Tanzawa mountain region on the island Honshu. Everything
here is quiet, calm and meditation. As on a lot of environmental recordings it
is the water and bird sounds that catch your hear immediately. That does not
mean that we are talking hazy new age shit here. Rather repeated listenings
raise all kinds of questions about sound, its attributes and functions.

On
Scenery Of The Border the sounds and, foremost, the silences between
them make you realize that literally every sound source can become music.
Of course you will be privy to this fact when you often open your ears to noise,
industrial and Musique Concrète, all styles of music that, in a time of
increased use of micro-tonality, are using silence as a constitutive part of the
music.

What environmental sounds also have in common with noise and
improvisation is that they are not composed as such. The chance of
re-hearing these sounds is slight unto non-existent. The question can then
be asked whether it is useful at all (let us for the sake of argument take for
granted that listening to sound or music is useful) to listen to such a record
more than once. Derek Bailey once said that recordings of improvisations (in
a sense 'found sound' of its own) should be listened to once and then thrown
away.

There is of course always an ironic element in Musique Concrète. Mostly it is
constituted of sounds that are so common to us that we do no longer hear
them, let alone listen to them. In a sense then environmental sounds give
post-industrial man, estranged from nature as he is, the chance to
experience nature in his living room.

What is more peculiar about this double set is the fact that, apart from the
far-away song of a few devoted priests and a minute fragment of a village
celebration, most of the time any trace of humanity is missing from these
sound environments. It is as if mankind has been quietly and rapidly lifted
from the face of the earth, leaving only the earth itself, the animals, the plants,
the rivers and waterfalls to quietly murmur their ever continuing song, a song
that was there long before the first human appeared on the planet.

You realize too that the objects and buildings that man has left behind (his
factories and power plants and tunnels) will stop being of any use
whatsoever shortly after mankind's disappearance. It also points out how
little the actual percentage of human noise on this planet still is. We may be
(to paraphrase Agent Smith) be breeding like a virus, but in the end the
greater part of the earth's surface, uninviting as it is, is still completely
unpopulated by human beings and, thus, unblemished by sound emanating
from humans.

All these considerations - which I will concede are all truisms - bring to mind
Keiji Haino's dictum that every artist should understand that in the beginning
was not (as vulgarized through the Bible, in turn taking its cue from Greek -
and thus western - philosophy)  the word. Neither was it rhythm. Not at all: in
the beginning was vibration. Pure sound was there a whole long time before
anyone (or anything for that matter) ever uttered a single word. And it will be
there long after the last word has died out.
Artist: Kiyoshi Mizutani
Title: Scenery Of The Border
Catalog Number: and/22
Release Year: 2005 / 2006
Format: CD x 2
Status: Sold Out

Track List:

CD 1:
01.
Kurokura Power Plant
02. In The Tunnel At Kurokura Path
03. The Chain At Mt. Ohishi
04. Hail At Mt. Tanzawa
05. Wind At Dohdaira
06. Birds At Dohkaku Mountain Ridge
07. Classical Dance Music At The Festival Of Aburi Shrine
08. Substation At Shibusawa
09. Birds At Yozuku Path
10. Ohdana (Large Waterfall)
11. Lower Stream Of Ohdana
12. Yozuku River

CD 2:
01.
Watering Place At Haragoya-Daira
02. At The Foot Of Mt. Yakeyama
03. Yabusame Of Murou Shrine In Rain
04. View Of Nakagawa River From Under A Hohki-Sugi
05. Million Times Invocation Of Yozuku
06. West Tanzawa In Rain. Nishizawa And Nakagawa River
07. Yamabushi At The Top Of Mt. Tohnodake
08. Blue-And-White Flycatcher At Shiomizu Pass
09. Narcissus Flycatcher At Dohdaira
10. Watering Place Under Kannogawa-Nokkoshi
11. Cicada At Mt. Hinokiboramaru
12. Indian Tree Pipit At Mt. Hinokiboramaru
and/OAR is very pleased to present this double CD release by Japanese
sound artist
Kiyoshi Mizutani. The second CD is a cross platform enhanced
CD containing audio that can be played on a regular CD player, plus two
PDFs that can be viewed on a computer.

One PDF contains a photo gallery of Kiyoshi's journey around the Tanzawa
mountain region of Japan. The second PDF contains a very large
topographic map with recording points corresponding to the track numbers.
Since the map is a very large file size, it is recommended that you drag the
PDF onto your desktop for faster viewing. The closer into the map one goes,
the more detail of the landscape one sees. Both the audio and the PDFs can
be accessed at the same time on a computer. The insert also contains a
quick reference map corresponding to each track number.

The audio portion of this release relays a kind of tranquil and introspective
sonic journey through the rugged yet mystical terrain. The region is full of
historical significance, natural beauty and folklore (as referred to in the title).
Although this release mostly features straight field recordings, there are also
some composed impressionistic moments that have been inherent in much
of Kiyoshi's previous work.

Also presented are recordings of certain Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies
and rituals rarely heard outside of Japan.

"These just released field recordings were made in the Tanzawa region
southwest of Tokyo. The Tanzawa range, a group of isolated mountains
separating the areas formerly known as Kai, Musashi, and Sagami, has a
vivid history. It was the scene of many historic conflicts, including the battle
between Takeda and Hojo; a home and hiding place for defeated soldiers
fleeing the enemy; and the site of such legends as the tragedy of the losing
army's princess. It was also the location of the Hasuge and Hinata ascetics'
route, a few traces of which can still be found. The recordings came about as
a result of my interest in this mountainous "border" region - the people who
have lived there, the natural features, the scenery. In addition to presenting
Tanzawa as it is today, it sheds light on the area's past. The recorded
sounds can be divided into categories such as natural occurrences,
animals, man-made structures, and folk traditions. The combination of
elements found in a particular location determines the character of its
atmosphere. To make this CD, I put the different combinations together in a
manner of a sonic photo book. Rather than looking for a meaning in
individual sounds, I suggest listening with the feeling of gazing at various
landscapes, one after another. In any case, the cognitive consistency one
maintains when listening to contemporary music is not a requirement here."  
(Kiyoshi Mizutani)
Vital Weekly  (May 2006)
In the releases of the and/OAR label field recordings are always important,
but the label doesn't exclusively work with that. The double CD by Kiyoshi
Mizutani should be listened with headphone or in winter time with all
windows closed. Recordings were made in the Tanzawa Mountains,
where-ever that might be, or why they are special, I don't know. Probably it is
some kind of holy place, since we hear some tracks of people chanting. The
majority of the pieces however deal with bird sounds, water falls, rain but
also a power-plant and a substation. All recorded with no sound processing
whatever, meaning all the recordings are presented in the purest form.
Some of the pieces mingle very nicely with your environment, certainly when
on hot spring day windows are open. Is that my bird or your bird, Mizutani? A
beautiful sound picture these two CDs, excellent recordings. A pity that the
information side is a bit sparse, but that would be my only complaint. The
pictures are great!  (Frans De Waard)
Paris Transatlantic  (July 2006)
Once a member of Merzbow, in recent times Kiyoshi Mizutani has shifted the
focus of his work towards field recording, capturing the reality of almost
forgotten, obscure signs of life. I became aware of his recent output through
the fantastic collaborations with Daniel Menche, Garden on Auscultare
Research and Song of Jike on Niko, on which the Japanese soundscaper
weaves a timestretching mantle of environmental recordings around the
shoulders of his American partner. So
Scenery of the Border is not only a
safe bet – it's a spiritual initiation. Tanzawa is a Japanese mountain region
whose desolate beauty is finely documented by the author's photos in the
exquisite cover artwork (more pictures are available on the enhanced second
disc). He applies the same basic principles to his recordings: between
November 2002 and February 2004 he took 24 aural snapshots of these
territories, translating broken silences, sacred ceremonies, background
energies and his own self-imposed solitude into a wholeness we can
observe respectfully while remaining in awe of acoustic phenomena that
ignorance might define as "normal" but which are essential for the organic
life of our being, even when taken out of their original context. Birdsong, for
example (one of Mizutani's best albums, Bird Songs on Ground Fault,
consists of little else): chirps and whistles are captured with such mastery
you can almost see the morning light through the branches and feel the
dampness around you. Other impressive segments feature the rustling
noise of feet on fallen leaves, the poignant mumble of passing airplanes
(another favourite sound in this writer's emotional archive), the humming of
power plants and substations and the ominous severity of the wind brushing
on the microphone. But what really seems to be omnipresent is water: a
continuous flow of rain, waterfalls, streams and rivers, a moisture you can
almost smell. The path to awareness starts here.  (Massimo Ricci)
Smallfish  (July 2006)
This enchanting piece of environmental sound / field recording work is a
wonderfully relaxing and engaging way to begin or end your day. Believe me,
I was chilling to it last night and again first thing this morning. Mizutani has
captured the essence of the magical sounds that are to be found in the
unspoilt Japanese mountains (something I'm lucky enough to have
experienced first hand). Be it the gentle burbling of a river, the general
ambience of the forested hillsides or the hypnotic chanting in a Buddhist
temple, he takes you on a voyage of discovery that, for me, is easily up there
with the work of Chris Watson. A beautifully packaged and realised work.
Superb.  (Mike Oliver)
Wire  (January 2007)
Record Of The Year - 2006  (Clive Bell)
Aquarius Records  (April 2007)
A few years back, Kiyoshi Mizutani ventured into the Tanzawa mountain range
located to the southwest of Tokyo in order to document the sounds of that
very isolated region. In the liner notes to this album, Mizutani explains that
this region enjoys a complex history with centuries worth of military
endeavors and legends including one tragedy which Mizutani alludes to
about "the losing army's princess." Needless to say, the mountains may
have been of strategic importance to any number of rival factions; but by now,
their remoteness and desolation harbors only a small population. He
focuses his attention upon three aspects of those mountains: the natural
(which is the dominant voice of the Tanzawan environment), the ceremonial
folklore of the people, and the residual noise of the man-made. Mizutani's
love of bird sounds was evident on one of his early sound works simply
entitled Bird Songs; and the spirited chatter of many a bird dots Mizutani's
field recordings. Crickets, cicadas, and plenty of insect choruses also feature
into Scenery Of The Border, as does a broad range of watery recordings from
quiet drips from a misty rain to the immersive white noise of waterfalls. The
few recordings that feature a human presence are of restrained Shinto and
Buddhist ceremonies, which Mizutani mentions have rarely been heard
outside of that region. It's these ritualistic stompings and hushed bits of
chanting that stand amongst the highlights of this incredible field recording
document.  (Jim Haynes)
Ecomusicology  (March 2013)
An extensive and insightful article written by Tyler Kinnear features Kiyoshi
Mizutani’s  "Scenery Of The Border" in the "Performance & Place" section of
the Ecomusicology Newsletter (page 5 - 7). Visit the Ecomusicology
website
to download PDF or download it directly from here.