The latest release from Japanese label Schole Inc. is a re-issue of an album initially released in 2007. Judging by the press release, this is an important release to the Schole staff and gave a definition for the label, which had its first release in the same year this originally came out. You could say it means a lot for the label to be bringing this one to renewed attention.
“The original version was released from Ahornfelder label from Germany in 2007. Created with an acoustic guitar, a field recording of birds chirping and raindrops, and some layers of fragile electronic sounds, produces a gentle comfortable sound. Daisuke establishes a reduced and minimal approach mostly based on guitars, accompanied by xylophones and other instruments. The songs have an open character, with a lot of silence, and repetition. These elements are contrasted with more ambient-like, electronically composed material. Hence the album is a fruitful interplay between
constant atmospheres and point-like acoustic notes.”
Miyatani is a guitarist from Awaji Island, Japan and has previously appeared on Schole back in 2008 with the collaborative album “Hi Be No Ne” with Sawako. This re-issue of his debut features four bonus tracks, remastering and all new artwork.
“View” a sound scape comprising of field recordings of train journeys over which warped, but warm glitchiness soaks over gives a hint to what may follow.
“Edanone” raw recordings of acoustic guitar which resonates with each stroke is joined by the sound of tapping on glass revealing different tones similar to glitchy folktronica. Additional guitar is layered in bringing in more brighter tones with a laid back and light filled sound.
“Rain Melodies” a tropical storm with bird song stops suddenly to change to another sound also involving rain and field recordings of cars travelling and free form acoustic guitar that sounds like tiny random fragments. The beating of the water droplets adds a percussive touch to the track and you get the feeling of the acoustic guitar somewhat mirroring the randomness of the rain drops.
“Old Tape” static soaked acoustic guitar sounding like it’s recorded on an old cassette recorder with a tiny microphone is paired up with chime tones that while clearer in timbre, still share that out sounding quality that the guitar exudes. You almost get the feeling of a folk artist, such is the sound if the guitar, but it still has elements of that pastoral sound that you get with acoustic ambience.
“Summer Child” shimmering tones that sound like a bed of electronic crickets cascade outwards over gentle acoustic guitar playing. The drones that are created vary from heavy but light filled through to staticy, snarling noises. The guitar feels like improvised playing that has been recorded somewhere outside where the environment is warm and inviting. The drones feel like waves of sound and judging by the title could reference the heat of summer.
“Niwa” a field recording based track of water and something banging which sounds to me like a sail banging on a mast of a boat. Presumably the title is a reference to the Niwa district of the Aichi Prefecture in the centre of Japan.
“Yu” an acoustic guitar track which echoes out and utilizes the instrument as a percussive device by hitting the body I assume while the notes are ringing out.
“Water Lights” glitchy tones that are fractured roll out a melody while layers of backwards looping tones enter the sound scape creating an electronica based track that undulates and cuts in and out. Field recordings of flowing water give an organic feel, before sections of disintegrating tones briefly enter in bursts. The tones get more intense and varied as the track reaches the end.
“Michi” similar in nature to previous tracks like “Old Tape” but with the sound quality of “Summer Child”, there is a playful innocence in the playing. It is as if Miyatani is playing for himself and just letting the music come out of him in a free, casual, but exploratory fashion.
“Sampo” mixes field recordings of walking mixed with environmental element such as insects, wind, alongside harsh buzzing electronics and plaintive guitar. The recordings of walking give a pace to the track that is enhanced by the pulse of the drones. The sound gets cut up with the field recordings entering and leaving keeping the drones as the central constant element. The guitar has a melodic tone that is chime like in its quality and the playing has a slight reflective to it.
“Hidamari” a natural sounding lo-fi recording of acoustic guitar that combines picking with the occasional full strum of the instrument comparing the difference in sound of the two methods. You get a vague feeling of classical Japanese music meets exploratory acoustic guitar.
“Hum” reveals the nature of its name from the beginning with shimmering tones that oscillate outwards creating this bed of sound. The tones are warm and not over powering, relaxed and take their time. This is probably the most pure ambient/drone track on the album. There is a hypnotic feel much like Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops” that combines with a richness in tones.
“Aiveo” captures the innocence of children with world recordings of dialogue (that mixes in the urban environment) and slightly distorted tones that harken back to “Edanone” with their sound quality and almost randomness of sound.
“Iindayo” raw natural sound washes over acoustic guitar that plays out a series of chord progressions that feel personal and post rock like. You could imagine a cello cutting through at some point to build on the track and take it to the next level. It’s quite weird, but pleasant hearing the guitar in a more controlled playing environment than the other more intuitive playing that has been heard thus far.
“Docusho-chu” and just like that we have gone to an experimental sounding track with the natural static, randomness of guitar and sounds of metal on glass and anything else that the microphone has picked up resulting in a track full of sonic detritus, pops and clicks.
“Brew” the first of the four bonus tracks recording six years later in 2013 seems like a cousin of “Hum” with its looped warm droning tones which are paired with static glitch of the mild variety, piano and fluttering electronics. Acoustic guitar enters in the sound, but in a very low-key fashion that gives an extra element, but doesn’t overwhelm the sound. The variety of tones and their humming and oscillating is the central focus here. The tones are in constant almost fast motion with the piano being minimal and the guitar demonstrating the free form and naturalistic qualities of the earlier recordings.
“Itsumo” two sections of guitar work in parallel fashion mixing up the strummed with a more experimental technique, not too dissimilar to that of “Hidamari”
“Utouto” field recording of train sounds that are approaching going through a tunnel are revealed when they suddenly stop and you’ve entered the tunnel. The music suddenly changes to have more cascading drone tones that are kaleidoscopic in sound before the field recordings enter once more with more insistent noise added. The train recordings give some sort of regular sound to hold onto as a rhythm of sort as the track feels like it is hurtling to career off the tracks.
“Kurasu” a lo-fi recording of what appears to be electric guitar and possibly piano, such is the rawness of the recording that it is not readily discernible. You can imagine with a clear recording that it could border on a post rock track.
I am not sure what to make of this album. When you think you’ve got it pegged it reveals something more or in other occasions, obscures something more. There is an acoustic vein than runs through it, but it also uses field recordings and drones on its sound pallet. At the ends of tracks the music can suddenly stop as if someone has pressed stop on the tape recorder and gives the listener the feeling of that you are hearing snippets of something larger and these are the only sections that have been able to have been preserved. For fans of unconventional acoustic based Japanese music.