I’m about to sit down and listen to the Minamo album, Kuroi Kawa [Black River], for the first time: a double-CD on Tzadik of Satoko Fujii and Carla Kihlstedt, in piano/violin duos. I’d sampled the title track but haven’t given the whole thing a proper listen.
I find myself pausing, though, to contemplate the quotation on the CD booklet.
The albums in Tzadik’s Oracles series, devoted to women in experimental music, come with quotations. Carla Kihlstedt once told me it was a requirement for her album, Two Foot Yard. And her choice was unique: She used a note she’d written herself, as a child, to her parents, apologizing for falling asleep during a Mozart concert.
For Minamo, she and Fujii chose a quotation from Japanese poet Akiko Yosano, from 1911. I feel like I shouldn’t spoil it by typing the full quotation, but it’s about mountains moving. Not in the geological sense of earthquakes and faults, but in a larger, sweeping sense, poetic yet literal. “You need not believe it,” she writes. And then she ends with two lines about the awakening of the world’s women — something as unbelievable in 1911 as mountains moving, and just as powerful. I like it.
I guess I just spoiled it by giving away the ending. Oh, well.
I’m enjoying the art, too. The CD tray photo looks like some black-and-white scan out of cellular biology… until you read in the credits that it’s a photo of Denali National Park, by QT Luong. Suddenly things make more sense — that white curve is a frozen river; the black patches above might be the unfrozen spots of a lake. It doesn’t look as good as the shots you’ll see on Luong’s Web page, but it gives you a sense of the majesty of the place.
You just don’t get these kinds of things from digital downloads.