No. 9

Micro Films

Named for the Beatles song where headphones became important, Japanese composer, songwriter and sound collector No. 9 (Joe Takayuki) expands on that palette with this, his third release. Take the record as a whole, because the first three cuts are misleadingly facile, with an almost Bobby McFerrin-produced-by-Thomas Dolby feel. Dissected vocal bits, horn blasts and a frenetic short attention span lead to the gracefully compelling middle of the disc, offering rewards for the persistent. Track four, “Snow Show,” moves into an ambient-jazz passage with double bass and coaxed piano atop an insistent yet not glitchy beat. The rest follows in tow—not exhausted from the beginning, but a welcome contrast. The inner sleeve features paintings by artists who offer their impressions of the album’s tracks.