Tomoko Sauvage: water, porcelain bowls, hydrophones, condenser mics,
metal wire and wood spoons.

Sauvage, a Paris-based Japanese musician, uses water-filled porcelain
bowls for her electro-acoustic performances and compositions. The use of
hydrophones (underwater microphones) allows her to capture the subtle
sound of water waves and drops resonating in porcelain bowls. The
serene, contemplative aquatic soundscape is woven from these fragile
materials. Her first solo album,
Ombrophilia will be released on and/OAR
(USA) in 2009. (Previous) Collaborators include Gilles Aubry, Momus and
Emmanuel Rebus."  
(The Wire)

catalog number: either/3
title: Ombrophilia
format: CD
status: sold out
THE WIRE  (May 2009)
"The music I love most right now is a preview of Ombrophilia, the debut
album by my friend Tomoko Sauvage, due from Seattle label and/OAR
later this year. Ombrophilia means 'an abnormal love of rain'. Tomoko
uses wooden cooking spoons to strike and stir Chinese rice bowls filled
with water. The wobbly, chiming vessels turn tuned water into a sort of
natural synthesizer, complete with organic forms of envelope, modulation,
pitchbend and decay. Track titles like 'Amniotic Life' reveal that she's
drawn inspiration from the fluid sounds of her recent pregnancy - her own
internal 'waters' and the new life moving within them. This is super-quiet
music, filled with something sweeter and sexier than rock's morbid,
normative love of pain. When Tomoko plays it live, water dripping from a
pierced polythene bag hung from the ceiling not only adds a kind of
random percussion, but scatters reflections off the lit water surface across
the walls and ceiling. The result is soothing, seductive and sensual, like a
long hot bath. I could soak in it forever."
Sauvage first came to my attention through a YouTube video of her
performing on waterbowls in Paris. She has a set of graduated-sized
porcelain bowls filled with varying amounts of water that she plays like a
percussion instrument with a couple of wooden kitchen spoons,
accompanied by an electronic drone and drum track or electronic shruti
box. Same principle as playing a glass harmonium, harmonica or harp
(like the wine glasses in the video above): fill a receptacle with water and
make it vibrate. The water acts as an amplifier as well as determining
what note the receptacle 'plays' by how much liquid you make resonate.
The water bowls, Instead of being rubbed to make them resonate (as you
do with Tibetan singing bowls), are struck like a xylophone. The cool thing
about this method is that the tone can be varied a little by stirring the
water, which adds a vibrato. The struck bowls have a bell-like tone similar
to struck singing bowls, one that's deeper and more resonant than
(Lee Kottner)
"Difficult not to remain charmed, if not entirely mesmerized, by Tomoko
Sauvage's music for water, porcelain bowls and hydrophones, delicately
represented by the 40 minutes of
Ombrophilia. This is a model case in
which, rather than looking at the technical aspect of things, one should
simply let the sound influence the spirit. There's both structure and
rational process at work, yet they're not as significant as the warm
luminescence that these soothingly resonant pieces irradiate. With the
exception of 'Mylapore', which uses metal wire to produce a growingly
intricate ringing texture (imagine three or four superimposed gamelans
amidst a hundred bicycle bells) and the minimal-yet-powerful
'Jalatarangam Revisited', the tracks essentially exploit the ear-cuddling
fluid shifts generated by the hydrophones, that typical wavering of moving
waters within a pot that we've all experienced while helping mum to wash
the dishes. The two chapters of 'Amniotic Life' and 'Raindrop Exercise' give
the idea of different kinds of bell towers, the tolling modified by a
morphing acoustic lattice quietly wrapping their quintessence. But the
album's high point is 'Making Of A Rainbow' – a touching, carillon-like
wonder of a piece whose qualities are summed up in a single adjective:
(Massimo Ricci)