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Searching For My Recording Engineer
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Yoko Sato - Searching For My Recording Engineer
CD-R (Morioka, Japan)



-guitar improvisation one
-guitar improvisation two
-guitar and voice improvisation
-guitar improvisation three




Recorded 10/25/01 at Studio Jive Morioka, Japan

Reviews:
(Indieville 10/21/2002) Experimental guitar improvisations tend to appeal only to a select few, an elite group that I am thankfully a part of. Having avidly listened to everything from Thurston Moore's grating solo work to Noumena's underground axe rumblings, I feel that vicious, sometimes strident guitar-abusing is one of the most emotional forms of music around. And Yoko Sato, thankfully, has gotten it down to a science. Searching For My Recording Engineer consists of four tracks - "Guitar Improvisation One," "Guitar Improvisation Two," "Guitar and Voice Improvisation," and "Guitar Improvisation Three." You know exactly what you're getting. First on the block is the nine-minute first track. Starting off with ringing feedback, the track breaks into metallic noise and begins to swirl through layers upon layers of effect-laden mindfuck until your brain can no longer take it. The true beauty of the piece, though, lies in how well Yoko Sato keeps everything together. While the untrained ear may only hear cacophony, a properly-tuned listener will feel the bounds of Yoko's framework, and will notice a deeply buried melody amidst all the feedback. Near the end of the track, Yoko ups the tension by jumping up a few octaves. The effect is mesmerizing. The second track is completely different. While the first piece was relatively restrained and gradual, number two just pulls out all the stops. Yoko's guitar is just completely ripped to shreds. The guitar strings are completely tortured, being dashed to pieces in a frenetic flurry of destructive ire. Listening to it is like getting stuck in an electric hailstorm. While one may feel as though this suffers from a lack of structure, Yoko is obviously trying to destroy boundaries with this piece. The third track adds voice to the mix, and in turn becomes the album's most potent moment. While the guitars are toned down here, so as to make way for the vocals, this does not detract from their power. The instrumentation is still disturbingly dark and cacophonous. But the piece's true power lies in the haunting yells and screams bellowed by Yoko. Mysterious and dark, she sings as if it's the apocalypse. And despite the improvised nature of this, there is a definite melodic correlation between the guitars and the vocals - something that sounds both incidental and intentional at once. This is what you would play in those carnival haunted houses if you wanted to give all the thrill-seeking children nightmares for the rest of their lives. The last track is similar to the second, except with a heavier use of pedal effects. It hits you like a barrage of bullets and finishes the album off appropriately. Altogether, Yoko Sato's Searching For My Recording Engineer is an essential electric guitar improvisation album. If you ever feel as if you'd like to be shot into an inferno of grinding guitar chaos, look no further. - Matt Shimmer

(AmbiEntrance 7/2002) Ambient-seeking ears my recoil (indeed may crawl into your head to hide) from Yoko Sato's powerfully abrasive swirls, though electricguitarnoise lovers can joyously bodysurf atop the boiling oceans of reverberating chaos when the Tokyo music school dropout unleashes her sprawling, squawling metallic torrents. Churning like stomach acid whipped by a dyspeptic hurricane, guitar improvisation one reaches screechy pinnacles during its shapeshifting evolution toward an unexpected fadeout at the 9-minute mark. The silence doesn't last long... even-more-tortured strings scream in agony and/or ecstasy in guitar improvisation two (12:13) as they slash-and-burn through various modes of riffage from choppy to sustained to intricate, usually while drenched in caustic feedback. Lighter (though still quite edgy) shimmers scour the airwaves of guitar and voice improvisation (5:12)... like another Yoko, Sato's vocals may sound like rather amusical to some, ranging between wordless crooning and anguished caterwauling. She again channels the spirit of Hendrix in a final 9-minute freakout. 35.5 minutes of mostly-unrestrained energy will either make you bang your head, or make your head go bang... Way off topic, but impressive for what it is... a scorched B+. Heavy, Man! - David J. Opdyke

(I Am Cancer) four improvisations for guitar. swirlingingingly loud guitar to chord to pedal to amp to ear. empty stadium seating. i picture one of those v-neck metal guitars. with lightning bolts painted on. weak strings and weak knees and the dismantiling of a jumbo jet. one track equals guitar and voice. haunted caverns. a lost love. a love of loss. - Chris Fischer

(Aural Innovations no. 23) Searching For My Recording Engineer features Yoko Sato blasting out solo electric guitar improvisations characterized by brain blistering chords and feedback, some of which is so piercing that they're sure to put out your windows. This is definitely sonic assault stuff and not for the faint of heart. But while there isn't a shred a ambience in Sato's playing, she does in some mindfucked way achieve the same result by generating layers of drifting, screaming and pulsating waves of aggression. The parts that grabbed me the most are the acid-noise freakouts that seem to dwell in an alterna-dimensional Hendrix/Heino vortex. Kind of an avant-garde noise-psych take on the classic rockin at the Fillmore guitar at center stage solo. So while Sato is firmly in the experimental improv realm the music is loaded with classic acid-rock elements. "Guitar and Voice Improvisation" is a somewhat different track which (obviously) includes voice in the form of Sato's anguished moaning and shrieking against raking power chords and dense walls of sound. The CD is only 35 minutes long which is more than enough time for Sato to make her sonic statement. Fans of harsh free-improv who haven't left their Hendrix days behind will find lots of interesting sounds and ideas expressed in Sato's music. - Jerry Kranitz

(Komakino) I guess this is the first time i received a cd of a Girl losing her-self in raping guitars. That is Yoko Sato, from Morioka, Japan, - involved in several other projects, as i read. - Anyway, this cd, - strange odd title Searching for My Recording Engineer, features four swirling violent improvisations, for about 35 minutes, between pure rough feedback and a chain saw, in style of some Sonic Youth's hidden tracks, - i mean, that congenital action of each inspired noise-maker to oblige/force his guitar to have a long french kiss with the ampli. Something guitarists really like, - while their neighbours don't. - It's the third track to draw my attention, where Yoko with Her singsong and acerbic howls (what a shivers!) recalls me of a young Lydia Lunch, - with a spectral guitar, played as a corroded harp. Well, that's good. Just listen this track, and make Your choice. - I'd be curious to know more about, especially with a Band. - Paolo Miceli

(Dead Angel no. 52) At last, the lovely Miz Sato returns with more cryptic bursts of noise, this time employing guitar rather than piano. I would have liked to hear her tickle the ivories again, but this is plenty swank enough in its own right -- four lengthy freeform improv jams (three on guitar, one with guitar and voice), all of them loud and noisy. The first one, "guitar improvisation one," is filled with screeching, droning, train-wreck sounds and high-pitched feedback so loud it starts breaking up; this is the sound the air raid bombers will make when Ragnarok arrives. The second one, "guitar improvisation two," is a bit more playful (if no less noisy), with bursts of mutant sound occasionally heralded by yowling feedback; lots of scratching and beating on the strings, painfully adjusted EQ, and unpredictable noise blurt. There's plenty, plenty reverb on these tracks, especially "guitar and voice improvisation," where she wails wordlessly (sometimes shrieking, eek!) over overamped guitars doing the drone 'n groan thing. On "guitar improvisation three" she returns to the frenzied attack mode of the second one, hopping all over the fretboard and making achy-breaky screechy noises like a disembodied noise cowgirl. In short, a fine example of incomprehensible yet entertaining guitar abuse. But what i wanna know is, how come none of the women i meet are this incredibly hep? I must be looking for luv 'n noise in all the wrong places.... - RKF

(Ampersand Etcetera 2002_10) Four studio guitar improvisations recorded on 25/10 (or 10/25) last year by the label magnates wife in Morioka (where a few of the roster are based). A couple of concerns raise their heads – I don't want to offend Bryan or his spouse after his generous offering, and Japanese noise. However, neither is a worry after having listened to this 35 minute album. These are intricate and controlled guitar-feedback and noise pieces, each with a distinct flavour or mood. 'Guitar improvisation one' is all feedback and shimmering drones, dense but with a strong melodic base. The second improvisation is flashier, with more guitar pyrotechnics including a Who-styles wind-up in the middle and some dramatic note runs in the final stages. A more restrained, almost melancholy guitar in 'Guitar and voice improvisation' is accompanied by 'typical' Japanese vocals (and I mean Yoko Ono and the like, not bubble-gum pop groups!) to great effect. The final (third) guitar piece takes a chordal base and creates squeals and tones over it through the magic of the guitar. So, a venture someway down the avenue of noise, but a manageable and inviting one. - Jeremy Keens

(ITDE) Through four lengthy tracks, Yoko Sato manages to wring nearly every possible sound out of an electric guitar, with the occasionally odd vocal yelp turning the instrumental solo into something like an instrumental duet. Generally, it seemed to me that the actual setup of the guitar, amp, and mic varied little throughout the recording; so a studio-as-instrument album this ain't. However, the work Sato does with the limited setup she seems to have allowed herself (through laziness or purpose, I cannot tell) is incredibly deep. Physically, this feels like watching someone squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of a tube, or the end bit of ketchup from a packet--- a real exploration of the instrument's possibilites at a particular moment. While even those wanting at least a shred of basic song structure will be disappointed, those interested in an artist truly experimenting (in the rawest sense of the word) will find much of interest here. Recommended only for those with active ears. Casual listeners, beware! - DaveX

(Touching Extremes) Noise, noise, noise. Yoko Sato is a girl who likes torturing her guitar creating a wall of distortion and harmonics bathing in long reverb, with obvious comparisons to Merzbow and K.K.Null as far as the general sound is concerned. On her side, Yoko has a sort of more "musical" approach: you can have a trace of something resembling a chord or a nice resonance here and there, guiding the listening among the groundbreaking squeals. One of the tracks features screaming vocals for good measure. Certainly more "extreme" than "touching", intelligently not too long at 35 minutes. - Massimo Ricci

(All Music Guide) How much noise can a man or woman (lets not be sexist) produce out of an electric guitar? A whole lot. Of course we already knew that, but Searching for My Recording Engineer is a good reminder. With the right feedback and effects pedals, the guitar becomes a nightmarish orchestra and Yoko Sato sure knows how to conduct it. Do these four guitar improvisations (one also includes voice) amount to something more than just noise? That kind of question depends so much on personal tastes and views about noise as art. Satos music is obviously driven by a desire to communicate strong emotions and make quite a racket. She is not playing the shock value card, this is not a test of endurance either, and yet she fails to transcend the baggage of her instrument. Whether playing thick drones or jerky motions, the guitar remains a guitar and the music... noise. Yelps and moans in Guitar and Voice Improvisation take us close to the spirit of Keiji Haino while giving us a glimpse at Satos gut-wrenching power when totally immersed in her playing, but this kind of involvement doesnt prevail throughout the album, making it an average release -- of course, if you cant stand noise guitar I dont know what you are doing here. The artist had the decency to keep things short, 35 mnutes total, which means that for once there sits a noise album you can enjoy without getting tired in the long run. The title is a nice find. - François Couture

(Neo-Zine) 4 Guitar noise improvisations, ranging from 5-12 mins, and sure to leave a ringing in your ear. Somehow this guitar ends up sounding like the long reverberations of a gong through a long metal tunnel. I’ll bet this would really make the loose change in my pocket vibrate around on the speakers. Very steely, fumbling, and screechy. Yoko must have dismantled this poor instrument. The effect is much more important than the way it is played. Chaos and musical entropy. Like having a four course meal of tinfoil. - CHC

(Eld Rich Palmer no. 11) PE's noise section seems stagnant now and forced out by numerous collective (AMM influenced) or guitar improvisers that supply the fast increasing label's roster. By the way, the absence of Bryan's child Sistrum among the scheduled titles on PE is probably one of the most visible symptoms of forthcoming changes in his politics?With her "Searching for my Recording Engineer", Yoko Sato acts like a platform between noise and guitar improvisation. She gives us a plain hint for the most effective use/exploration of guitar. Incredibly loud, four recordings of improvise playing taste an endurance of amplifier that can fill your room up to same ceiling with vibrating, swirling and distorted guitar sounds. There is not much left to be said, but the differences are in intensification of the volume, the greater part of the record is played with adrenaline concentrated in the veins. There is a release on PE that I would refer to Yoko Sato's. That is Naoaki Miyamoto 7"EP, however Yoko Sato is even more intense and radical . For those whom Keiji Haino is not enough! - Krzysztof Sadza

(Blastitude no. 14) This sure ain't solo piano. This is solo electric guitar. Sometimes people play guitar like it was a piano, but no piano can make these sounds. Indeed QUITE a different side of the coin than the LVD release, this features four tracks, "guitar improvisation one," "guitar improvisation two," "guitar and voice improvisation," and "guitar improvisation three." They are very loud and scary and even a bit hellish. Sort of like a rougher Keiji Haino, almost like the Hair Police in the sense that in both cases someone is pounding the hell out of a guitar -- and when she sings she sounds like Adris Hoyos. Pretty deep. - Matt Silcock


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