25 August 2010

Chihei Hatakeyama - august cdr (2009, Under The Spire)

My discovery of Chihei Hatakeyama's works has been delayed by his first album on Kranky, “Minima Moralia”, which failed to convince me, but the discovery of his magnificent project Opitope decided me to give him another chance, and everything I've heard gave me a strong impression.

“August” seems a good place to start, three tracks and just below forty minutes, a CDR release on this small but astonishing label based in Wales, Under The Spire. Only 200 copies exist and of course, it is out of print.

The purpose of this record is an exploration of quiet and minimal landscapes.  The first track can be pretty austere, "Grass Pillow" lasts 22 minutes and is like his name suggest it a nap on fresh grass, in the shade of trees in a state of light recovering sleep, before heading for the rest of the day. The tone is deep gray, layering to waves of grass undulating under the movement of dreams. Like sleep it seems suspended on time, with no apparent start of end but with perpetual expansions and evolutions in space and in shades of colors. The closer comparison would be the drone guitar works of Rafael Toral, yet here the purpose is about sleeping, not about flying.

"Swallow" would be more about walking at night, barefoot and with just the starlight, in the middle of a garden, on wet ground and grass, not yes awaken and soon back to sleep, just out for some deep breath and with a glass of fresh water, all of this giving the feeling that dew, like a drizzle, has started to fall on you and that it's urgent time to return under the duvet and finish the night.

The last track, "A Tube Amp For An Electric Guitar", is a live collaboration with a Butoh Band later digitally processed in other to make the foot steps of dancers less obvious. It's the warmer and the most emotional track, like waking up serene after a long comforting night to discover the early lights of dawn under a vast dark blue sky with the last scintillating lights with a promising free day in front of us.

Highly recommended.


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