Wednesday, 21 April 2021


Derek Muro — Rove feat. Daisy Press

This track by begins as if it were about to erupt into a rave-ready tract of Balearic breakbeats: synth chords wobble and sigh on a backdrop of elastic intent. Instead, it evolves into a cross of Gregorian chant and jazz (like a future revival, perhaps, as if it has already been a thing), the voice of experimental vocalist Daisy Press soaring in an aerial display of virtuosity among phrases of saxophone like scudding clouds.

Sub-bass punctuation and gradual glimmers of light gives Derek Muro’s ‘rove’ yet more cathedralic height and space — and then it breaks off, a rapture interrupted by the everyday, the bubble of dreaming burst. Peals of anguish surface through the found sound chatter, and most pointedly, Muro sprinkles the coda with a ticking clock: though it had seemed halted in its tracks, time has actually not stopped, and never does.

Derek Muro Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday, 20 April 2021


Theo Alexander — Bright-Eyed Hunger

Wild and skittering, the melodies weaving into each other in London composer Theo Alexander’s ‘Bright-eyed Hunger’ at first appear nursery rhyme in nature. They skip and dance in a sort of random uniformity, naturalistic but synthetic. Piano glides in, cool and glassy, counteracting the frenzied woodwinds; gradually this set of jovial intricacies becomes a cohesive whole.

Beneath it all, beneath the dappled light on leaves and insects tumbling in the air, an unknown something looms large — the “hunger” to the otherwise “bright-eyed” sentiment of the song — organic and growling, a carnivorous spirit shuddering inside the body of a double bass (played by George Cremaschi). As light and playful as Alexander makes this track seem on the surface, underneath it is positively snarling.

Theo Alexander Internet Presence ☟
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Saturday, 17 April 2021


Kumi Takahara — See-Through


In ‘Tide’ Tokyo violinist and composer Kumi Takahara creates a thick soundtrack to a marine sunset. Violins glisten in playful counterpoint, piling in layers that crescendo in a tumult of colour, orchestral and expansive: clouds sprayed across the sky in kinetic whisps, tinted by evening light.

Columns of sound rumble below, a sombre and subterranean like something unthought of weighing on your mind; on the surface, one violin soars into the air, and later another. And as well as the strings, Takahara's voice lilts throughout adding yet more humanity to a piece of music already powerfully human.

Featuring production from aus. (Yasuhiko Fukuzono, founder of flau records), ‘Tide’ is held in place and time with the sound of waves, natural bookends, starting tranquil and ending in a shiver of dusk and leftover emotions — shreds of gleaming unknown sound, the afterglow of the giddy fugue that shines brilliantly at the centre of this composite epic of a song.

Kumi Takahara Internet Presence ☟

Saturday, 10 April 2021



The natural world. That’s the overriding force at work in ‘Bird Ambience’ by Berlin-based vibraphonist and composer Masayoshi Fujita. But that — signalled by the track’s robust percussion, tumbling marimba and keen ceramic reverberations — is only half of the story here. For all of its organically glossy and glomping collisions of beater against solid object, there’s a smattering of inorganic glitch, sharp and harsh, zooming around within; an ancient computer of some forgotten century still whirring brokenly amidst vast trees and choking vines. And all around, ghosts — the nebulous vocals of singer Hatis Noit cooing through the canopy.

The sheer space between each knock, each tap, hit and plonk — and the constrasting soft, sheafing ambience of each successive contact — gives Fujita's ‘Bird Ambience’ an empty-yet-full feeling: Navigating the voidsome depths of woods, its trees and the heavy air between the trunks and branches. There’s an essence of kankyō ongaku or “environmental music” here, with textural elements reminiscent of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s ‘Time After Time’. There's less in the way of melody, of rigidity, Fujita's track instead creeping along almost at random, solidly and yet as if it were mist.

Masayoshi Fujita Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 9 April 2021



A bell rings three times, announcing the apparition of Chihiro Ono’s suite. Ono, a violinist and violist born in Chiba, Japan, but now living in London, based these four short movements chiefly on the music (and life) of pianist and composer Rentaro Taki. She calls it "super Romantico Classical music" not classical nor experimental, and certainly not pop.

Born in 1979, Taki attentended Leipzig Conservatory in 1901 as the third Japanese musician to study in Europe. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and travelled back to Oita, Japan in 1902, where he died in 1903. He is perhaps most famous for ‘Kojo no Tsuki’ (Ruined Castle by Moonlight) appropriately inspired by the ruins of Oka Castle in Oita, and with lyrics penned by poet Bansui Doi (1871-1952). "His musical life had many Western influences, yet he never lost the strong core of his nation in his heart, which I can relate to," says Ono. "Doi’s words and Rentarou’s music resonate strongly with me."

‘Kojo no Tsuki’ is fairly well known and has been given renditions throughout the years. For one example, it was jazzed up (literally), albeit without its title, by Theolonius Monk as ‘Japanese Folk Song’.

It’s Taki’s song that works its way through Chihiro Ono’s HachiRen, particularly in ‘Kojo’ (Ruined castle), strings crooning smooth in lament, harsh chords scrape into the air, the whisper of the bow falling silent. That whispering, like a dry brush stroke, flecks of sound colour against the void, feel characteristic of the suite as a whole, particularly in final track ‘Ren’ — a poignant, if melancholic, reflection on mujō (無常) or impermanence, and a fitting coda to the all-too-short life of Rentaro Taki himself.

Violin is the main component of the suite, of course, but that doesn’t stop other elements from making an appearance. What sounds like a steam locomotive appears in ‘8 (Hachi)’ — the first movement, signifying Taki’s summertime birth (24th August); strings appear ghostly and agitated, taking inspiration from Niccolò Paganini’s turbulent playing. Japan’s summers are humid and stifling, the air so crammed with the untethered scream of cicadas that it feels the sky could break open, and worthy of the addled sound Ono has portrayed them with.

On the subject of summer and Paganini (sort of: “La Campanella”) are the bells. In Japan, their clear sound is supposed to inspire cooling thoughts during the heat of summer. At the same time, fūrin (most often glass wind chimes) are symbolic of keeping evil at bay. With HachiRen concerned mostly with ghosts — of Taki, of Oka Castle, and even in the analogical “death” of cherry blossom falling to the ground in pale pink whirlwinds (in ‘SakuraFubuki’) — it makes sense that chimes punctuate the suite, marking a delicate boundary between inspiration, memory, intangible things, and the music itself.

Chihiro Ono Internet Presence ☟
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