Chihei Hatakeyama :: Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains (Room40)

Throughout, subtle inflictions add a new dimension—more than mere musically mediated scene capture; beyond setting, more of a story told in the tracks, Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains is not just about the eponymous moon light, but the viewer and some emotive state s/he may be navigating.

Chihei Hatakeyama :: Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains (Room40)

Which ambient guitarist do you go to when you choose to sling some wooze? Japan is blessed with a holy trinity: those seeking the furthest remove may be drawn to the acousmatic spaces of Saito Koji; others will feel comfier with the ether-tone mists of Hakobune. But those wanting to hold on to more than less of the vestiges of fret and string, of strum-pluck gesture, look to Chihei Hatakeyama to retain a discernible base in the face of alloying plug-ins; in the face of sanitising synthesis the craftsman’s cleaving to the axe’s praxis helps eschew the new age bland (ishment) potentially projected by this new title: Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains, a third for Room40 after Mirror (2011) and Saunter (2009), is a low-light gem to add to a stream of others on his own White Paddy Mountains. Around these extends a decade-long discog of smeared strum and processed pluck, of dream-snag atmo, of memory-tug texture, now-voyaging in the wake of musical trajectories of 30 years past—notably the glide and ride of late ’80s ‘gaze (cf. MBV, Cocteaus, et al.)—re-cast in ambient drone-drift.

Opener “Prince of the Sea” snares the sensation of immersive float with shimmering light playing on the surface and below. The decaying loops of “Journey to the Imaginary Paradise” project a place of lush seclusion, viscid steel guitar invoking a sun-dappled island spirit without tilting into the twee. “Phantom Voice” smears a patina of faux tape-hiss onto the lilts of the strings, guitar lines draped in translucent gauze; “Broken Mirror” and “Mausoleum” starker, more unkempt; “A Bronze Pike” a more bucolic interlude. MLROM creates a motion pool of atmosphere outside the static idiom of ambience. Strummed guitars cloaked in claggy texture drive a dérive-like drift with musically mitigated city-signalling sounds. A tension plays beneath, indicating all is not serene—traces of metals in “A Narrow Path of the Sacred Forest” gesture to some urban life at a remove; a discordant pluck/strum against the grain, as on “Journey to the Imaginary Paradise,” where tremolo-inflected tones distend around the margins.

Throughout, subtle inflictions add a new dimension—more than mere musically mediated scene capture; beyond setting, more of a story told in the tracks, Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains is not just about the eponymous moon light, but the viewer and some emotive state s/he may be navigating.

Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains is available on Room40.

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