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Ryoji Ikeda, "Dataplex"

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This is Ryoji Ikeda's first full-length release of new material since 2002's orchestral Op., however, it is a return to his original form of rhythmic clicks, sonic beeps, high pitched squeals, and low buzz. Although the claims come that this, the first part of the Datamatics series, is built on structures from data, Ikeda hasn't woven data into something that's abstract or foreign sounding. The music is rather rhythmic, challenging, and completely enjoyable: something most computer musician types have failed at.


Dataplex almost picks up where O°C left off, as there's 20 tracks, a number of them are strung together using a common theme, and for the most part, the music is very upbeat. The reason I think I like Ikeda's music over all the other sonic laptop "glitch" acts of the late 1990s is that Ikeda isn't glitch. His music is very precise and composed: it's never accidental, haphazard, or random. Ikeda's aesthetic is song-based. He knows how to start and end a song and make it something both tangible and enjoyable.

The first eight tracks are strung together: they follow the same hurried tempo and use a common palette. It's only by the ninth track, "data.microhelix," that things significantly change. This piece is drastically slower and introduces some sustained lower tones into the mix, making an almost funk-influenced groove that Ikeda's not commonly known to exhibit. When the pace picks up again for "data.superhelix," the low tones remain but it's as if the sound has moved from being funk inspired to almost speed-metal inspired. Switching up the pace and palette is in store for the following duo of tracks, "data.minimax" and "data.syntax," as the high pitched bell-like sounds clearly establish that nobody else sounds like Ryoji Ikeda.

Ikeda returns to his new found love for incorporating other music styles in "data.flex" and its successor, "data.reflex," where both are almost built through influences of deep techno, using lower tones like bass sounds and higher rhythmic sounds like a hi-hat. It's songs like this that make me wonder what Ikeda might do as a member of a traditional rock group, adding his signature rhythmic clicks and beeps on top of more standard western pop instrumentation. I'm sure some might feel it would spoil the purity of the music but crossing sounds can prove quite influential to the evolution of music if they're well executed.

Ikeda goes more abstract for the next triptych, "data.convex," "data.vertex," and "data.vortex," almost borrowing ideas from the whole math-rock/post-rock/dub hybrid aesthetic, using dub-like echoes almost like submarine sounds before cutting the beat and dousing the audio floor with a low drone. It's serene and unusually peaceful.

Dataplex concludes with the cadence of the fantastic "data.matrix" (before the clearly abstract data noise of the disc's closer, "data.adaplex") in a similar way that he has closed other projects, taking some of the ideas put forth in earlier tracks and wrapping them up in an all-encompassing song. Ikeda might claim that his music is built from data points of DNA, the cosmos, or mathematics, but it's what's at the center his own heart that weaves everything into such elegant and beautiful songs.


Last Updated on Sunday, 15 January 2006 23:46  


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