During a 2006 winter visit to Naoshima, a tiny landmass in Japan's inland sea between mainland Honshu and Shikoku, David Sylvian was invited to produce a work for Standard2, an extended artwalk circling the villages of the island. Standard2 is the latest initiative in the island's ongoing art makeover that has turned around a declining modern economy principally based on recycling slag and other waste - an industry seemingly at odds with Naoshima's rugged prettiness.
Naoshima's major patron is the Benesse Corporation, which commissioned architect Tadao Ando to design an art museum and hotel complex at the centre of the island's regeneration. Each hotel room is dedicated to a different artist, while its neighbouring Chichu Art Museum hosts works by Walter de la Maria and Shinro Ohtake, among others. It's not difficult to imagine Sylvian feeling entirely at home in this art shelter, yet his Standard2 work is the result of him venturing outdoors to make the natural recordings of the island being buffeted by the loud weather indicated in the title.
Mixed with discreet to the point of being largely unidentifiable contributions of an ensemble made up of Sylvian, Fennesz, Arve Henriksen, Akira Rabelais and The Wire's Clive Bell, these recordings form the basis of the 70 minute piece originally meant to be heard on the MP3 player while strolling (very, very slowly) around the settlement of Honmura, during which the recorded creaks, wind sighs, wave motions and passing traffic noises would integrate with the real-time sounds of the village and its surrounds. This artful CD mix, available for a limited time only before becoming a permanent sound installation at Naoshima Museum, is a dynamic, wholly absorbing reversioning of the site-specific original, with the odd, violently jarring sonic close-up ramming home the unpredictable nature of the weather movements that inspired it.
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