CD - 10 tracks
4th edition of this timeless classic, reissued in August 2011:
1st edition: 1996 [Original edition]
2nd edition: 2000 [Millennium edition]
3rd edition: 2006 [Touch 25th anniversary]
4th edition: 2011 [15th anniversary of the release]
1. Headphonics 0/0 (3:12)
2. Headphonics 1/0 (4:16)
4. + (2:50)
5. +. (5:07)
6. +.. (10:55)
7. - (6:36)
8. -. (11:51)
9. -.. (13:24)
10. +/- (1:05)
Comments and reviews:
Forget microhouse; Ryoji Ikeda’s late 90s masterpiece +/- takes electronic music and examines it on an atomic level. Ikeda uses an incredibly small palette of sounds, many of them nearly beyond the range of human hearing, but the overall effect is hypnotic and physically arresting. There are moments on this album that have made me flinch in surprise; Ikeda draws his listeners in with swiftly repeating beats and establishes a powerful rhythm that makes a shift like the one from “+.” to “+..” all the more shocking.
Though usually listed as 10 tracks, +/- can really be considered three very different pieces. Tracks 1-3 comprise the 10-minute “Headphonics,” an especially groovy opening act to the more reserved title songs that span tracks 4-10. What it lacks in the catchiness and bass beats found on “Headphonics” the “+” section makes up for in sheer motorik intensity, while “-“ acts as the opposite – after the clipping beats of “+,” “-,” the longest section on the album, it provides the perfect come-down from the preceding intensity. The album moves into light speed here as the beats repeat so fast they destroy all sense of rhythm. It becomes one atmospheric unified sound, with a single metronomic beat present like a weakening pulse. The slow burning track builds up to a sort of climax in its final, longest section, until the seams begin to show and the piece breaks down.
In the coda, “+/-,” all that Ikeda leaves us with is a single sine wave, barely recognizable to the human ear. With the wave playing out for that last 60 seconds, it allows the album to end, yet the sounds still literally have a presence in the room. It gives the feeling of hearing something just out of your reach. Ikeda has said that most people really only notice the tone when it is gone. A note that only makes itself known through its absence is a beautiful idea, and Ikeda weaves these rare concepts and sounds into a unique and brilliant album. [Miles Bowe]
These Records Mail Order Catalogue (UK):
"A benchmark release in digital minimalism. Has to be heard, totally compulsive and immaculately constructed, pushes the envelope while keeping full control. Essential, and deceptively easy listening."
"Ultra-minimalist Japanese composer. Clicks, beeps, ultrasonics. Pretend you live in an empty white apartment with no furniture except one orchid in a vase, but still placed according to the dictates of feng shui. Ultra-chillout. But not if you've a hangover."
KALX Radio (USA):
"Hi, there. I spoke recently with the fellow from Dutch East India who so kindly sent us some of your recent releases, but I wanted to share with you my experiences with the "+ / -" album... I just got it out for the DJs to play this week, and while several people were in my office, I played the last track (#10) on the boom box for them. Cringe-o-rama. It was a lot of fun. I can hardly wait to play the disc on our "INFORMATION OVERLOAD" show for the "difficult listening" crowd. Thanks. PS: are there any unwelcome physiological effects to that record that I, or the University's lawyers, should know about?"
Further information/reviewsFor more information, please visit this product's webpage.
Track 1: Headphonics 0/0