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Various Artists Japanese Avant-Garde

Ken Burns has his Jazz. Then there's the For Dummies series. And we'd need another Alexandria library just to hold the plight of "Intro To"s and readers published daily. But listening to Sub Rosa's microcosmic sampling of the supernova that is Japan's avant-garde, one finds no gaps in a massive history that includes Merzbow's noise, So Takahashi's digitized ambient planes, Yoshio Machida's computer-age homage to classical Japanese composition and Sachiko M's experimental minimalism. Free improvisation and heavily controlled processing meet in tracks like Otomo Yoshide's post-noise critique, and the gorgeously illuminated carousel of Yoshihiro Hanno's Mutliphonic Ensemble brings a much lighter sound. With its filmmaker interviews and liner notes by David Toop, this is a cultural crossroads worth a thousand Guide Tos.

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