05 July 2011

Saito Koji - luck (2011, Resting Bell)

Each new release by Saito Koji is like a new iceberg joining the ice sea, a new monotonous area with his own landscape and minor variations. Would it be ice, sandy desert or tropical forest, his music always perfectly illustrates the definition of ambient music (a style of instrumental music with electronic textures and no persistent beat, used to create or enhance a mood or atmosphere.) once developed by Brian Eno with his ambient works. 

While seeming exploring the genre in its simplest form, Saito Koji escapes reductionism and slowly build a collection of works which progressively establishes him as a strong figure by keeping high quality level in a diluted and minimal genre.

Comparisons can be made with the Stars of the Lid, William Basinski or Harold Budd & Eno collaborations but his works are even more denuded while surprisingly warm, appeasing and fulfilling. “Luck” is a work in three parts and I don't know if it can be related to the Fukushima incident as it is his birthplace but the global mood, the structure of this record and the darker, more melancholic and pensive mood, are part of a process which adds an unexpected depth.

There is also a strange symmetry with this record, two 20 minutes tracks with a junction of 8 minutes. The opening "Old Tape Magic" is a long contemplative drone and it sounds like the perfect accompaniment and oral equivalent of this Thomas Struth picture "Sunrise in the mountains at Kiso-Fukushima in Japan (1987)". Through the music of Saito Koji you can feel the light slowly invading the landscape, the blue mineral nature of the sky and the coldness of the air., while walking slowly and steadily 

Though the cathartic interpretation if purely mine, the pulsatile an moving nature of "Count" conjures in me aerial satellite picture of the defective and tsunami affected nuclear plant. I don't know the whole discography of Saito Koji but it seems to be an interesting departure, how the pulsation evolves, making loops, with a different lower line adding intricate complexity, putting you in a state of awe, as the different waves slowly recover you with their growing desolation.

Abandoning the drone and pulsatile nature on the last piece "Luck", he is using here a loop a short and almost orchestral ethereal melody - not unlike Basinski ones -, covering everything under overhanging noon sunlight. It is deeply soothing and comforting, you'll find yourself stretching while listening to it.

A very nice and recommended album.

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