Aspidistrafly: I Hold A Wish For You

Aspidistrafly's first full-length album, I Hold A Wish For You, is a lovely collection on both sonic and visual grounds. Inspired in part by Banana Yoshimoto's story “Moonlight Shadow,” vocalist April Lee and multi-instrumentalist and composer Ricks Ang (also curator of the Kitchen. imprint) have created a work that's as much photo album as recording. Rather than the typical gatefold sleeve, the release's front and back covers frame ten full-colour photo images that unfold in accordion-like manner plus an insert that contains the CD and related info. The music the Singapore-based duo creates as aspidistrafly (in operation since 2002) is very much in line with the Schole and Flau tradition of enchanting serenades created using rich acoustic colour (harmonium, glockenspiel, music box, acoustic guitar, piano, melodica, percussion, etc.), field recordings, warm vocals, and electronic textures and treatments.

The recording splits itself between evocative scene paintings, such as “candlescape,” which sets the album's tone with a dreamy moodscape of disembodied voices and outdoor sounds, and “common colors in the air,” where water and bird sounds mix with acoustic guitar and vocal musings, and vocal-based songs which are more enticing for spotlighting Lee's singing. In the entrancing “Moonlight Shadow” and “On the Summer Solstice,” for example, her gorgeous, multi-layered voice perfectly complements the songs' tranquil streams of acoustic guitars and electronics. Elsewhere, Schole artist Haruka Nakamura adds acoustic guitar and piano to “Endless Dreamless” (most distinguished by a lovely vocal melody), while “porcelain sky wink” presents a heavily-processed setting of wistful piano melodies and children's voices. Throughout the forty-three-minute album, aspidistrafly's transporting music glistens like sunlight passing through a spider web on a damp summer morning. Listeners whose taste runs to Flica, Caroline, Sawako, Akira Kosemura, and Rist will do themselves a grave disservice if I Hold A Wish For You doesn't immediately become a part of their collections.

March 2009