A genuinely remarkable album, like nothing I've ever heard despite being instantly relateable and familiar.
For those with no experience of Ryoji Ikeda or microsound in general, the building blocks of this albums are studiously basic electronic sounds - sine waves, glitches, pops. A lot of the music here is built from sounds normally considered to be amusical, accidental outbursts of feedback and of white noise and of processing errors that studio engineers have spent a century trying to eradicate entirely. For all that, you'd expect something punishing, weird, and deliberately obtuse - but +/-
is anything but. (Well, it's still weird, but it's not guilty of being punishing or deliberately obtuse, at least.)
Truly, for all its avant-garde processes and intent, +/-
is dance music at heart. This is one of the most rhythmically propulsive albums I own, as loose-limbed and trance-inducing as traditional African dance music, just without the sunny disposition. Instead it's as icy, detached, and mechanized as Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk are actually a very good reference point for this, as it happens - both produce their appeal from the stark contrast between the deeply human act of dancing and the deeply unhuman sentiments and atmospheres the underpin their rhythms with. The difference is that Kraftwerk sound completely clean, like the band were completely in control of the creative process from scratch, whereas Ikeda sounds like he's putting all the electronic debris back together after an explosion - yet the ruthless precision of the end product is the same.
A brilliant album, anyway. It's like getting your groove on at the end of the universe.