Teruyuki Nobuchika: Sonorité
mü-nest & PLOP

Teruyuki Nobuchika's sophomore album Sonorité joins the esteemed company of recent Schole releases How My Heart Sings by Akira Kosemura and nunu's self-titled mini-album in the category of beautiful piano-based collections. Connecting the dots further, Nobuchika's debut album Morceau was issued on Schole in 2009, but the new one arrives as a joint release from mü-nest (Malaysia) and PLOP (Japan), the third such collaborative venture following albums by me:mo and Kyo Ichinose. The Kyoto-based Nobuchika's established himself as a film composer as a result of having produced numerous scores for films and television series, and Sonorité's songs are fittingly evocative and thus cinematic in their own way too, despite their brevity. They're like miniature soundtracks to scenes of wide-ranging emotional character.

Presenting fifteen songs distinguished by their harmonious and melodic qualities, Nobuchika brings to the collection multiple styles and moods, from achingly lovely ballads to playful dance settings, formal classical set-pieces, and peaceful evocations that call to mind someone closing her eyes and reflecting on a precious memory (“A Day”). On the lighter side are nimble-footed dance pieces like “Aquarelle” and “Petite Etude,” with the latter's roller-coaster patterns a natural accompaniment to footage of a mouse's night-kitchen scamper. “Café du Parc” has an irrepressible spring in its step, suitably so for a piece that brings together Nobuchika's jubilant piano melodies and outdoor sounds of nature and children. There's even a slightly bluesy quality to the melancholy rumination “Bagatelle No. 2” that makes its resemble some imaginary Nino Rota-Erik Satie collaboration. In certain cases, Nobuchika incorporates field recordings (“Café du Parc,” “A Day,” “Kokyu”) and electronic manipulations that give the piano a shimmering halo (“Otonami”) or extend its notes until they generate radiant slivers of light (“A Day,” “Kokyu”). Reverb acts as a veritable second instrument during “Parallel,” so integral to the song are the harmonic streams that flow within the rests between the piano chords. “Koto” is more mysterioso soundscape than conventional song, with Nobuchika augmenting scattered piano droplets with percussive noises and strums generated from the instrument's insides.

In the ballads, the piano is presented in its purest form, unadorned by treatments and field recordings, and despite the simpler presentation, it's these settings that make the most powerful impression. Listening to the opening song, “Mou,” the first time almost brought a tear to my eye (a chord progression similar to one in “Danny Boy” will do that to you), the piece is so beautiful. The ultra-delicate “Hnappian” and “Lastly” are as lovely, if not even more so, while “Requiem” is suitably sombre and brooding and so cloaked in gloom one can almost feel the rain falling. Such pieces can't help but stand out on Nobuchika's eclectic collection.

August 2011