okamononoriaki: A Little Planet

A Little Planet is Tokyo-based audio-visual artist Okamoto Noriaki's forty-two-minute sequel to the 2010 debut album Telescope. The new collection is a colourful affair whose ten songs sparkle with a joyous uplift and range widely within Noriaki's personalized electroacoustic soundworld. Melodic pop, post-rock, and electronica are the primary reference points, with the ten songs offering up varying combinations of the three styles. The sonic palette is enriched by the instrumentation used, which includes piano, guitar, drums, synthesizers, field recordings, electronics, and, in a few instances, vocals.

With “I'm Home,” a melancholic piano-and-electronics overture, having set the tone, the album proper gets underway with the radiant “Call Me,” a pop-styled collaboration with Cokiyu that accompanies her hushed vocal with a sparkling and surprisingly funky backdrop by Noriaki. That unexpectedly aggressive approach carries over into the punchy instrumentals “One Day” and “Little Planet,” each of which receives a major boost from a robust drum attack. The latter track in particular calls Plaid to mind, even if okamotonoriaki's style is, at least in this case, more raucous by comparison. With its hyperactive bleeps and melodic fragments,“Kindergarten” captures the playful, carefree spirit of five-year-olds, while tribal drumming gives “Sun” the feel of an ancient sun worship ritual, the song's electronic and synthetic elements notwithstanding.

Though the okamotonoriaki sound could generally be characterized as melodic electronica, many of the tracks exude an aggressiveness typical of post-rock; the presence of guitars and drum programming in the songs also solidifies the connection (guesting on the album is acoustic guitarist Takumi Nishinoy). Noriaki's melodic electronica side is never too far out of the picture, however, as “Sprite,” one of the set's most appealing pieces, reminds us. Also adding to the release is a DVD that includes music videos Noriaki created for three of the album's songs as well as one by Berlin visual artist T.S. Wendelstein.

February 2013