d’incise – Ukigusa (the sky is as blue as a tragedy) [CD-R/Score]


d’incise – Ukigusa (the sky is as blue as a tragedy) [CD-R/Score]


Label: Suppedaneum

Year: 2017

Format: Score/CD-R

Swiss sound artist d’incise’s Ukigusa (The Sky Is As Blue As A Tragedy) is a relatively accessible work, contrary to what one might expect from the somewhat lofty, albeit inviting presentation. The score has a simple legend and basic notation system which is enough to follow along, and there’s hardly a more pleasing instrument to listen to than than a vibraphone—struck hard or soft, prepared or clean, it’s rooted in an acoustic purity that’s easy to be lured into. The two players focus on a small range of tones across one vibe and brush them out in precisely clocked intervals. The effects suggest a calm traversal not unlike dragging a sled over ice with ease, stopping every few meters for a rest; or the gentle, impeded time of a half-speed chime clock with a couple loose parts. “Just… Hold… Your… Horses!” is heavy on the beat frequencies, exuding an amiable dissonance which has a sneaky, investigative quality. The two middle pieces, “She Sent Me a Postcard” and “I’m Not So Sure Now”, shimmer in a miniaturized space often reserved for electronics, marked by delicate, high sustained tones and the subtle erosion of the midrange pendulum strikes keeping time. “He Always Left Like That, With a Heavy Heart” takes this even a little further, with soft, long bows, letting the metallic buzz get more of the shine.  d’incise’s chosen preparation are all relatively soft in nature—nothing heavier than aluminum—and inject just enough noise into the system to keep one’s ears perked up. Nice to see that the titles of the pieces have a pulpy radio drama excerpt quality, adding some personality to the proceedings. The origami swan is the cherry on top of the elegantly designed packaging, acting as a small totem for the precise folding and demure simplicity contained within.

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«UKIGUSA (the sky is as blue as a tragedy)» is a composition for prepared vibraphone and two players. Composed in ten distinct parts—eight of which are realized by d’incise and Cyril Bondi on the accompanying CD-R—the piece incorporates sheets of aluminum, cardboard cups, Styrofoam, acacia beans, and other disparate objects and extended techniques in combination with the vibraphone to explore pitch, timbre, and the delicate interplay of materials. The result is by turns austere and lush, abstract and organic; it is also unfailingly beautiful. «UKIGUSA» is released in a limited edition of 100 archival CD-Rs, each of which is accompanied by the complete score; two sheets of origami paper, one of which carries the track listing and additional credits; and a hand-folded origami swan that bears the Suppedaneum logo.
"“Ukigusa (the sky is as blue as a tragedy) is a piece on a shore, where one would hesitate between ground and water. If it can be seen as an instrumental piece, its roots are in a practice of collecting objects, finding pitches in them, manipulating them, looking for the materiality of the vibration and its capacity to propagate or interact with other objects. The instrument is turned again into a primitive artifact, resonating plates of metal activated by two people, four hands, or four bows.

In Ukigusa, one will find tonalities and harmonies that should be listened to for what they are, but which are also merely the context or the door for much more to happen on an intimate scale, small sonic architectures, a poetics of the decay, parasites, slowness, the lost sometime of control over things, and the distanciation between the gesture and its consequences. Beauty is not something to be ashamed of in this piece, nor is its melancholic mood.”
  1. I wonder if the boat will be late again (no. 2) [15:11]
  2. Don’t leave anything behind (no.3) [10:01]
  3. Just… hold… your… horses (no. 4) [6:50]
  4. She sent me a postcard (no. 6) [8:24]
  5. I’m not so sure now (no. 7) [12:36]
  6. But I want you to remember me from time to time (no. 8) [9:22]
  7. You’re all so quiet tonight (no. 9) [8:15]
  8. He always left like that, with a heavy heart (no. 10) [7:03]
Performed by Cyril Bondi and d’incise.
Recorded in September 2016, Insub. Studio, Geneva, Switzerland.
With the support of the Foundations Nicati De-Luz and Henneberger-Mercier.
This is Suppedaneum no. 13.