Little Phrase: Find Your Sense
Nature Bliss

Perhaps the multi-hued image on the cover of Little Phrase's sophomore album Find Your Sense has been chosen for something more than visual effect. Certainly the dozen tracks constituting the forty-two-minute collection are a kaleidoscopic bunch that suggests that labeling the Japanese quintet post-rock while not incorrect isn't quite enough. This well-crafted follow-up to 2009's debut album Landscape is a satisfying affair that speaks strongly on behalf of the group, especially its talent for elevating its material with scenic detail, melody, and, yes, colour.

Credited to Little Phrase members Toshihide Hashimoto (guitar), Fumitaka Kouno (bass), Hiroki Tsunami (drums), Takahiro Hashimoto (guitar, keyboards, programming), and Tatsuya Matsumura (VJ, artwork), Find Your Sense is distinguished by the way the group uses acoustic, electric, and electronic sounds as well as samples and field recordings (typewriter clacks, footsteps, crowd noise, etc.) to create melodious sound paintings designed to lift the spirit.

Drenched in the sounds of crashing waves, “Seashore” inaugurates the album with a jubilant overture that builds from rich acoustic scene-painting into rousing post-rock. “Typewriter” receives a boost from the violin contributions of guest Shushiro Nagata, whose strings sweeten an already full-bodied arrangement heavy on electric guitars and buoyed by drums and keyboards. Nagata re-appears on the wistful “December,” with this time the violin adding a melancholy presence as a lead instrument before being absorbed into the group's high-intensity attack. With DJ arigato on hand as a remixer, “Candle” changes things up by showing a stutter-funk side of the band, while “HANAMI by the river” likewise shifts the focus from conventional post-rock to a funky, downtempo swoon.

Drawing inspiration from everyday things in their daily lives such as colours and seasons, the group makes a strong impression with its wide-ranging programme, even if the field recordings are at times featured to an excessive degree. A typical track sees the band supplementing its core sound with electronic ear candy and distinguishing details, such as the tinkle of a glockenspiel and plunk of an out-of-tune piano. Finally, not only is Find Your Sense thoughtfully conceived, crafted, and executed, it's also well-timed, with its forty-two-minute total feeling just about right.

November 2014