Blurred In My Mirror
nown as one of the masters of glitchy electronic pop, along with Bjork and Haco, Tujiko Noriko’s music only first saw wide release in 2001 with the Mego release Shojo Toshi. Unlike her obvious contemporaries, though, the Osaka-based Noriko stands on her own due in large part to the ingenuity of her song construction. While listening to any of her albums, it's common for a transition of not-so-random glitch noise to fold easily and flawlessly into a masterful pop arrangement, sometimes (though rarely) reaching even the aspects of dark Shibuya-kei.
Noriko's new album, Blurred In My Mirror adds several new elements to her sound. This is most likely due to the way that the album was created: Noriko and producer Lawrence English passed e-mails back and forth, adding their vision to each composition until each one was deemed completed. Also, perhaps in deference to English (Lawrence), Noriko expands her use of English on this album.
Opener “Niagara Hospital” illustrates this, as well as Noriko’s new-found penchant for role-playing. The song is a strange lyrical tale of a psychotic woman, waiting in a dark barren room for an imaginary boyfriend, all while seeing ghosts dance around her room. While her vocals are smooth and elegant for the most part, near the end of each line Noriko falls back into her native language, chanting each word in almost a tribal fashion. It’s a chilling opener, for what ends up being an uncharacteristically dark and brooding album.
“Tablet For Memory” and “Shayou” continue this trend, eschewing the frantic arpeggios of Make Me Harder’s tracks and trading them in for a dirge-y like dream pop that evokes shades of My Bloody Valentine. “I'm Not Dreaming, King” even has hints of jazz, as a soft saxophone is heard over a drum that pans from one ear to the other while glitches and beeps are also heard in the distance. The last track, “Magpies And Mornings” is easily the loudest song on the album, as Noriko layers “La”'s and “Ooh”'s over another acoustic guitar and a host of effects while crickets and other exotic insects chirp in the background.
Though there are only seven songs, each track is its own individual sound world. This is not an album that you skip to a middle of a song, every second on the album is embraced by the previous. As such, it’s hard to imagine that there’ll be a better batch of glitchy electronic pop released this year.
Reviewed by: Mike Mineo
Reviewed on: 2005-09-05