Shuta Hasunuma: OK Bamboo
Western Vinyl

Shuta Hasunuma's OK Bamboo opens with a dash of glitchy splatter, suggesting that his second full-length may part ways dramatically from the soothing ambiance of his eponymous debut, but the moment quickly gives way to a lush moodscape of piano-based elegance. Though the Japanese artist clothes his meticulously-assembled compositions in dense folds of textures, field samples, and electronic manipulations, they're anchored by sparkling melodies that breezily flutter and weave. Bright piano lines dance throughout, and act as stabilizing nuclei for the ever-mutating patterns that surround them. Hasunuma's material generally opts for uplift rather than melancholy: “Discover Tokyo” teems with so many joyous melodies, it could pass for a musical promo designed to lure travelers, while “Sunny Day in Saginomiya” lives up to the jubilant promise of its title. A shuffling rhythm drives the stuttering acoustic guitar edits and delicate piano-synth melodies of “Already There” while “The Highest Point of” is surprisingly buoyed by a funky underpinning. Though such uptempo settings appeal, Hasunuma's arranging and song construction talents are showcased even more effectively in slower pieces like “Idle Junta” and arguably the album's loveliest piece, “Niagara Shower,” a placid collage of acoustic guitar, piano, tinkles, and electronic murmurs that coalesces into an evocative eight-minute oasis.

December 2007