Yuko Araki
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Yuko Araki’s ‘IV’: Torn Between Voice and Noise

Experimentalist Yuko Araki highlights her vision’s first new element: the human voice, which was either absent or lost beneath the layers of havoc in the past.

Yuko Araki
Room 40
27 October 2023

In 2021, Yuko Araki completed a cycle of exploration through noise and power electronics with End of Trilogy. The Japanese artist unleashed a work defined by sonic extremity. Through constructing imposing walls of noise and violent sonic bursts, End of Trilogy is an exquisite passage to a post-industrial realm. Araki now returns with IV, opening up a new cycle for her creative endeavors, and some key differences come with it.

As IV opens, Araki highlights the first new element of her vision. That’s the human voice, which was either absent or lost beneath the layers of havoc in the past. Yet, IV establishes the voice as a central component, as the mantras of “‡Magnetar” arrive. Their ominous presence enhances the menacing background of spikey artifacts and drifting soundscapes. It remains equally important as “‡Otiron” arrives, with the mumbling repetitions setting the scene for a tribal presence. Futuristic motifs and post-industrial settings shift, but the voice remains pivotal. Even more so with “‡Damontoid”, where the fast-paced utterings awaken a mysterious and otherworldly facade.

It’s also a testament to the flow, as the first three tracks conclude, and how Araki shifts the narrative. Where voice was fundamental, it now drifts to the background. “‡Damontoid” signals that change and establishes a heavier ambiance. Even the harshness of power electronics subsides in favor of a mystical, almost darkwave-informed procession. It becomes more apparent when “Gravitational Collapse” comes through. Here, the tribal implementations favor a hypnotic effect while still relying on their dystopian procedure.

At this stage, IV is embedded in the ambiance. At first, it is a slow, soft onboarding with “†White Petals”, but then “†VCR8” completely takes flight. Up to that point, Araki was set within this Earth-adjacent dystopian realm. But now, IV has astral ambitions, becoming an alien-like offering. Sharp sounds and strange rhythmic patterns craft a vacuum, a place of subtle randomness devoid of any sense of direction.

The evolution of IV alone is exquisite, as Araki masterfully travels through the capabilities of the human voice and into this exploration of ambiance through minimal means. It is, however, the closing track, “†Sloshing”, that brings the necessary catharsis. This invokes the past, as Araki channels all the fury of power electronics to create an excruciating and visceral experience, with Taichi Nagura (vocalist of the great Endon) accompanying her. It’s an excellent end to this story, a conclusion to the otherworldly trips, the tribal perspective, and the vocalizations. All of this melts away as Araki makes a final return to a point of origin. It is a tremendous and fitting conclusion to this work and opens up questions about where Araki will turn next.

RATING 8 / 10