Frequency collagist Ikeda's auspicious debut gets what feels like a timely reissue at the hands of Carsten Nicolai's conceptual imprint Raster-Noton, thirteen years from its original release date, yet containing recordings that actually date ten years prior. Ikeda's trolled around electronica's outer banks for some time now, having bypassed such 90s now-recognized genre infatuations as "glitch" and "microsound", eking out his own singular pole position on various experimental axes. Revisiting this recording after so much time has past, I find myself taken aback somewhat, completely forgetting (and incorrectly recalling) that unlike his follow-up works, 1000 Fragments doesn't yet reveal Ikeda's now trademark fusillade of FFRR'ed (full frequency range recorded) desktop pinpricks, but rather those aforementioned collage-centric tonalities, mixed with some superbly realized shades of austere digital ambience.
The recording is partitioned off in three separately-titled segments, each of which seems to offer fairly clear pictures as to what inhabited Ikeda's mindset, and in chronological order too. "Channel X", the artist briefly recontextualizing his audio studio into something like a surrealist broadcast booth, quaintly channels the likes of Negativland, early Cabaret Voltaire, Chris Watson, and reams of McLuhan-esque agitprop while spinning sounds and mashing genres across a hypothetical dial. Dialog ripped from air-traffic controllers, NASA transmissions, science fiction cinema and public service announcements, lenses vaseline-smeared with the odd pop, click, and hi-def tones he would later favor, are perfectly incorporated into Ikeda's pastiche of Western popular culture. The entire "piece" is hardly music, just barely musical, and firmly plants tongue in cheek, yet the satire is seriously bitmapped by Ikeda's expert retooling of his chosen samples. The five tracks that comprise the "5 Zones" suite is an altogether different animal. Here, Ikeda inaugurates a breathy, quasi-sinister ambient music, all windswept metallic dust-storms and breathless mechanistic utterances; the individual pieces are given longer lengths to allow their central ideas time to gel, which certainly makes for a more absorbing listening experience. Building the tracks around physical sonic media (sonar blips, radar beeps, submarine pings, pulsar resonances, morse code signals), and then situating those tones inside literal vacuums suggests Ikeda's quite fascinated by the works of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and his equally barren landmark of cinematic minimalism, Stalker.
The final three pieces informing "Luxus" retreat from the wasteland isolationism of the prior works but hardly abandon their potency: this is Eno under the microscope, ambient music unfolding like white noise but fiercely vibrant. Ikeda's trenchant atmospheres are unutterably beautiful and sensually devastating, at once distant and hopeful, melancholy yet contemplative. Suggesting changing seasons, the inevitable march of time, or stars bursting and engulfing the heavens, had these resonant drifts of electronics caught the proper marketers ears at the time, Ikeda might very well have ushered in the true "new age" and emboldened a now misbegotten genre down a far more noble path. Contexts aside, 1000 Fragments remains a seminal piece of electronica, decades down the line or not.
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