Chihei Hatakeyama: A Long Journey
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Only a month after a review of his Own Records full-length, Ghostly Garden, appeared, we're presented with another ravishing collection of meditative dreamscapes from Chihei Hatakeyama. In this case, he augments field recording material gathered in San Francisco during 2006 with treated natural instruments (guitar and piano) to create the eleven settings on A Long Journey, which, according to Hatakeyama, is designed to be heard as a metaphor for life and the journey from birth to death.

No one will mistake Hatakeyama's “Morning Arrive on the Island” for an arrival on Skull Island, that's for sure. The imaginary locales he conjures here and elsewhere are peaceful and tranquil in the extreme, settings where one encounters breathtaking scenery and life forms. Hatakeyama's not afraid to encourage programmatic associations in his work either. Even without a title to suggest meaning, “Waves” still would prompt the evocation of graceful movements by colourful creatures far beneath the sea's surface. At times, not just titles but real-world details appear to root a piece in a specific context, such as when sounds of people talking and bustling about surface amidst treated guitar tones during “Within New Trees” and when the clamour of crowds and bells appears alongside watery piano playing in “The Distant Sound of a Bustle.” In other cases, the beauty of pure sound dominates, such as when crystalline guitar shadings course through “Haze From The River” as brilliantly as light illuminating stained glass windows. Regardless, whether it be the becalmed blur of “The Moon Reflecting on the Surface of the Ocean” and “White Light” or the lustrous sparkle of “Calm” (a collaboration with Federico Durand), Hatakeyama's pieces are always transporting.

April 2010