Akira Kosemura: Grassland
Schole Records

Those who've adored Akira Kosemura's previous work will find nothing to alter their impression upon hearing Grassland's eleven tracks of electroacoustic pastoralia. While the album naturally includes samplings of Kosemura's elegant piano-based style (the melancholy waltz “Marriage,” graceful “Ballet,” serene “Amour,” and radiant coda “Ensemble”), it also broadens out the template by adding elements of jazz and post-rock to his established approach.

More energized than the prototypical Kosemura track, the title song  begins the album with five minutes of post-rock, with the splash of a swinging drum track egging on electric piano melodies, and “Xiao Ge Er” even features, of all things, a jazzy electric guitar solo alongside its micro-electronic pitter-patter (paniyolo and Me:mo both play guitar on the song, while the later “Just A Few Minutes,” also featuring Me:mo's playing, brings a soulful jazz feel to the album).

The album is distinguished by a number of vocal performances. Angelic singing by The Misfortunes of Gerald pushes “Petrarca” into a dream-house or bubbly trance zone that's again not the first genre that springs to mind when Kosemura's name is mentioned. Listeners of a certain age will perk up when the instrumental opening of perhaps the prettiest song, “Light,” riffs on Minnie Ripperton's “Lovin' You,” and if Toma Itoko doesn't replicate Ripperton's trill, she certainly enhances the song with her own gentle voice. In keeping with its title, “Little Dipper” is heavenly, especially when Aspidistrafly's April Lee adds vocals to the song's lullaby-like allure. (For the record, Grassland is available in two formats, the conventional CD, of course, but also a CD-DVD combination where the latter features treatments of some of the CD's songs.)

June 2010