Hideyuki Hashimoto: Home

In the formal concert hall setting, all effort is made to prevent the intrusion of extraneous noise so as to promote the purest possible listening experience. And further to that, much effort is put forth to ensure that the piano played by the performer will be as perfectly tuned as possible. Hideyuki Hashimoto's third solo piano album Home would seem to err, then, on both counts, given that it teems with extra-musical sounds and that the piano the Osaka, Japan-born musician played, one found in a school on a small island in the Setouchi sea, is an upright that hadn't been tuned for over ten years when he sat down to play it.

Perhaps a bit of context is needed to explain the circumstances that account for the fifty-three minute recording, the follow-up to Hashimoto's 2012 releases Earth and Air. Following the Setouchi Triennale 2013, Hideyuki Hashimoto partook in the Sea's Terrace event at Takamijima and recorded the album on June 30th and September 11th and 12th on said upright next to an open window. Communing with the sounds of nature—wind, insects, and birds foremost among them—that drifted into the room as he improvised, Hashimoto created the album's twenty-four pieces, none less than one minute in duration nor any longer than three.

The creaking noises produced by the instrument are audible throughout, and the ambient hum of the outdoors is sometimes as prominent as the piano playing: bird chatter is omnipresent, and the insect thrum in some tracks suggests they might have been recorded at day's end. But such sounds merely enhance the recording by situating it in a real-world context, one that lives and breathes in accordance with its own natural rhythms. And though the piano might not have been formally tuned for a decade, it doesn't sound so desperately in need of tuning that its condition becomes a distraction or negative factor.

While there are subtle variations in mood, Hashimoto's ruminations are generally serene and nostalgic in tone and characterized by delicacy and fragility. And while they're all pretty, certain pieces do stand out as particularly beautiful, among them “yama” and “spring,” for their graceful and stately qualities, and “michi,” “manabiya,” and “ki” for their wistfulness. But in truth, it makes less sense to single out specific pieces and more to regard the album as a total statement. In that regard, Home makes for a lovely complement to Hashimoto's 2012 releases as well as a recording that should appeal to those with albums by Dustin O'Halloran, Peter Broderick, and Nils Frahm in their collections.

March 2014