Sonata For Sine Wave And White Noise

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“This is a fascinating work that takes listeners back to the early days of electronic music without sounding nostalgic or retro. Satoru Wono uses two extreme elements: sine waves (pure tones, no harmonics) and white noise (all frequencies, saturation). He shapes and combines them with a computer, which gives the music its contemporary feel. But it retains the excitement of early experiments, both academic and popular (with a nod to Wendy Carlos’ famous Moog-ified classics). The “Overture” and “Canon” expose in two short pieces the range of available possibilities, from sickening sine wave drones all the way to driving techno. But the main course is in the “Sonata,” in four very different movements. Here, Wono’s structural talent comes into play. The first movement, “Sonata,” is an abstract construction of tones reminiscent of Herbert Brün’s early computer music (but warmer). The “Scherzo” is beat-driven, something like Autechre playing with oscillators. The computer’s role becomes more apparent as Wono shapes tones into interlocking beats and patterns. The “Adagio” takes the form of a delicate drone of white noise and sine waves. The “Divertimento” reminds listeners that Wono also works as a techno DJ: it is a playful skeletal techno track, fast-paced and relentless. The album is completed by the 18-minute “Variation in A,” a slowly escalating composition on a single note. Wono gradually stacks parts and patterns to put together a techno symphony of monophonic electronica — nice, but not as impressive as the “Sonata.” This album provides a surprisingly gentle listen wrapped in an enticing artistic concept.”