22 September 2010

Opitope - hau (2007, Spekk)

This is the first Opitope album, a Japanese duo formed by Chihei Hatakeyama and Tomoyoshi Date in 2002. At the time of this release in 2007, Chihei Hatakaeyama's discography was limited to his "Minima Moralia" (2006) album on Kranky and Tomoyoshi had only released a track on the "Small Melodies" (2005) compilation of Spekk.

Like painting need canvas, like a movie needs a scenery, ambient instrumental music needs to be build on precise feelings and intentions around which sounds are whirling, conveying images, nuances and subtlety.

"Hau" is an imaginary travel from north to south, with the passing and transition of seasons, the cycle of life, the symmetry of repetitions and the asymmetry of instants with sounds coming from the left or from the right.

Both are playing electric guitar, piano and electronics, Chihei is adding bass, acoustic guitar and vibraphone, but it's unclear to determine which part belong to who. "Hau' sounds full but without saturation, clear and finely textured, with thickness and density through which light is playing, and we are moving slowly, avoiding straight lines, looking around, adjusting our vision and our pace.

There is melancholy and joy, sadness and hope, everything jostles together and sometimes it's like moving through a crowd with faces expression various states of mind, or walking along a bucolic path, with as much flourishing flowers than faded ones. Opitope is never siding with one direction only, everything is multi-colored, interconnected, memories mixed with present and it's particularly true with the use of field recordings, never a purpose or a decorative pattern, but mostly a narrative tool. "Hau" is an album of crossroads but with a aim and a technique helping them to avoid confusion. Chihei and Tomoyoshi seem to consider these nine tracks as entity in which they incorporate their sounds without a plan, using their intuitions in a self-reflexive process.

What may be disconcerting is that it's the work of two, how they achieve to keep such a balance in their compositions is interesting, there is an interpenetration of their contributions. Each one of these tracks is like an exuberant shapely aggregate with it own existence and volume and from which ones emotions exude.   

There is a milestone quality with "hau", fragments of voyage through transitory stasis for a structure often more kaleidoscopic than linear, there is an organic substance into this music, an independence of form, in a style - ambient music - sometimes reduced to the idea of a beautiful tapestry. Opitope is definitely looking for a more spiritual and mysterious achievement. You can never totally capture their music, once you think you have found a thread it slowly evaporates and you find yourself in another setting in a perpetual blooming and burgeoning transformation.
The better way to enjoy and to lose yourself in this labyrinth of music, keep it playing in the background while focusing on different activities and slowly you'll become more an more permeable and be able to expand your mind in this music. A fruit full of seeds.

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