Category Archives: Hiroshi Yoshimura

The word for the world is forest

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Some of you may have noticed that we have spent the last few weeks caught in a whirlpool of Japanese ambient and minimal composition, perhaps driven by a subconscious impulse to find refuge from nasty reality.

Many of these records have natural or organic themes, which could well reflect the artists’ own search for spaces of serenity amidst the hyper-accelerated lanes of late-era capitalism. Today we bring you a selection of tracks with that vibe, hope that you find them as soothingly beautiful as we do, and also that when we get together this time next week we don’t have any more reasons to want to escape reality.

We cross our fingers, hard.

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We start with Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Flora (1987, reissued in 2006). We already featured Yoshimura a few weeks ago, a propos of his Pier & Loft Tape. While the tracks there had the blue mood of a melancholy playboy smoking cigarettes at the marina, Flora is all about the green (well there is actually another Yoshimura album called Green, but we’ll tell you about that some other time).

Flora is a paradox: it is an artificial replica of nature created by a masterful sound designer and composer. Its synths soar like childhood sketches of Popol Vuh, its melodies ebb, twist and flow like forest paths created by furtive furries , or secret streams hosting impossible dragonflies. It contains moments of sheer pristine perfection when rays of light reach for us through the trees like the fingers of a purifying spirit, to scrub away the grime of existence.

If humanity has a Fallout moment, and we have to retreat into underground vaults, we will play Flora to the children who grow up there, to show them the wonders that existed before we fucked up.

Hiroshi Yoshimura – Flora

Discogs page.

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Then comes Yutaka Hirose’s Soundscape 2: Nova. As usual, what little information about the artist/record there is comes from the wonderful Listen to This blog (who everyone should follow). There, we find out that Nova was financed (together with another Yoshimura album) by “Misawa Home Corporation for use in their prefabricated houses between 1986 and 1988”.

This is another example of the paradox between the natural and the artificial: birds chirping, water flowing, you can almost feel the branches of the trees rubbing on your shoulders as you ramble through this soundscape. But you are not in the woods, you are in a prefabricated house in one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Hirose’s intricate melodies pick up on the dreamy yearning of that cognitive dissonance, and open Ghibli-esque portals into parallel universes of green quiet, under the paving stones the mulch.

Yutaka Hirose – Slow Sky

Discogs page for Soundscape 2: Nova.

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We conclude today’s triptych of nature with Motohiko Hamase, a jazz bassist whose Notes of Forestry (1988) is a mystery in its origin, but that fits the music just fine. The title track, with its lithe Satie melody and playful assortment of cartoon noises perfectly captures the sense of freedom that we feel when walk out of the road, and into the forest.

With but a step we move from a clear grid of options to a rhizome of possibilities. As the sound of traffic fades away time and space themselves dissolve, and we feel that, if we kept walking, we would step into another country or another era. The forest doesn’t care, it has seen it all, and Motohiko Hamase’s music perhaps soundtrack’s the wry amusement with which it observes us, as we ramble happily through its home.

Motohiko Hamase – Notes of Forestry

Discogs page for Notes of Forestry.

This post’s artwork is one of E. McKnight Kauffer’s illustrations for a 1944 edition of Green Mansions by W. H. Hudson. We obtained it from 50Watts.

Seaside saudade

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Fast, fast, run before the summer ends and we can’t post any more neo-balearic (or para-balearic) music!

Today we continue in the same mood as last Monday: languorous, lazy and happy, with a sun-kissed soul and a kirlian aura of perfect honey, perhaps with a drop of magenta sadness that some family and friends can’t be here with us, and that some of them, we will never see again.

A state of stasis is suitable to contemplate their and our mortality, the ultimate transition. In a moment like this, basking under the nuclear conflagration of the sun, we embrace the invasion of melancholy and temper it with a consoling thought, like the protagonist at the end of the Third  Policeman: our discrete identities and bodies are a fiction that hides constant exchange and death, renewal too. Under this fierce sun, in this melting heat, we surrender to our inner hippie.

So let us begin with Diego Herrera, better known as Suzanne Kraft, who produced last year’s wonderful Talk from Home.

The vibe is similar to Gaussian Curve’s Clouds (which we posted last week): clop-clopping beats, humanistic synthesisers and butterfly guitars like Ry Cooder after dining the best fish ever, in a terrace above the Mediterranean sunset. The result is one of easy nonchalance, a machine that makes immersive dioramas through which you can flash back to the most placid, jewel-like glittering moment of your best (physical, psychic) holiday.

Suzanne Kraft – Flatiron

Get Talk from Home from Melody As Truth.

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Hiroshi Yoshimura is one of the 1980s Japanese artists we discovered during our algorithmic ambient exploration a few weeks ago. We have struggled to find out much about him personally: he was an environmental musician and a visual poet, he taught industrial and sound design, he sadly died of cancer in 2003.

He also made stunning ambient music where every instant is like the step of a turing machine computing programs of beauty and truth.

Today we celebrate Yoshimura and his Pier and Loft, a nautically themed 1983 C-64 we stumbled upon in Holy Warbles YouTube channel.

Tokyo Bay Area is one of the most amazing things we have heard this year: a piano melody that drones in Badalamenti-esque wonder, if you translated (bizarre-Japanese advert style) Twin Peaks to a 1980s Tokyo marina, this would be the tune enveloping each of Agent Cooper’s moves.

Hiroshi Yoshimura – Tokyo Bay Area

The Sea in My Palm closes Pier and Loft, as well as today’s post, in an uncharacteristic (for Yoshimura) upbeat mode, like a Trans-European express for container ship lanes in Porco Rosso’s pastel sea, it sails past us with muffled electroid beats and wistful, aquatic melodies, its destination some amazing space between Drexciya and Sven Libaek that we didn’t know existed.  

Hiroshi Yoshimura – The Sea In My Palm

Small levels of info about Pier and Loft in Discogs.