øjeRum – The Forest is Sleeping Within the Trees / Hirotaka Shirotsubaki – Last Goodbye.

Both these releases come from the Italy based KrysaliSound label run by sound artist Francis M Gri. 2018 saw releases by James McDermid, Federico Dal Pozzo, klās’tĭk, Hirotaka Shirotsubaki and two re-issues from øjeRum. Each of these releases demonstrated different styles, from glacial ambience to sound art to experimental dronescapes, which shows the label to be open to a variety of forms of music.

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The Forest Is Sleeping Within The Trees, original released by Scissor Tail Editions in 2015, is the third work of the Danish Paw Grabowski reissued by KrysaliSound with a new mastering sound. Divided in six parts, piano and pump organ walk together in a sort of spiritual research and in a deep combination of human desolation, devotion and fragility. With his wide catalogue øjeRum confirms to be an artist with a rare sensibility. The Forest Is Sleeping Within The Trees” is a stunning release for fans of William Basinski and all the minimalist genre.

2018 carried on with Paw Grabowski’s prolific øjeRum project with releases on Champion Version, Unknown Tone, KrysaliSound and a handful of self released works. This the second of the re-issues on Krysalisound originally came out on Scissor Tail Editions in 2015 on cassette with different artwork.

With such a minimalist sound pallet of just pump organ and piano you could think the music would be limited. However, Grabowski creates music that although is enmeshed with static fuzz, it is warm and rich.

The pace of the six pieces are slow with a wavy droning style as the music lurches from side to side with the piano holding fort as the pump organ drones outwards. Straight away the reference to Basinski in the snippet of the above press release makes sense. The way the music sounds gives me a sense of present and past with the piano parts being the present and the pump organ drones being the past that is scattered away by the breeze. Grabowski navigates the tricky territory of minimal music by changing the focus and playing on each part, which while still being melancholic, but not merely being a repetition. The hazy ambience I mentioned earlier is a large part in the success of the pieces as it adds an extra dimension to the sound. The standout for me is “Part 5” with its open creaks and crackles combining with the movement of the piece making me feel like I am on a boat that is listlessly being moved by waves.

If you were to give a visual identity to the place best to listen to music such as this it would be in a dimly lit cottage with light winter outside and an overall lack of light and warmth present. This is largely because of the melancholic qualities of the pieces, but also the way that it invites introspection from the listener. Best listened to undisturbed.

Like the original issue copies for this went quickly, but digital is still available.

Hirotaka Shirotsubaki finds his way to Krysalisound after releases on such labels as Naviar, Archives, Organic Industries, taâlem as well as slew of self released works. It was his album on Naviar that provided the gateway to this releases.

I’m pleased to close the year with an artist that I personally contacted for publishing with KrysaliSound after having listened to his album “Wet Petals” released by Naviar Records.  Hirotaka Shirotsubaki is a Kobe-based musician that uses sampled guitars to create dreamy landscapes and emotional textures moving the listener in a quiet and safe inner dwelling. I am proud to present his new album “Last Goodbye” .

About the album Hirotaka says: “In Japan, the era called “Heisei” will end this year. My life was with this “Heisei” era. In order to live a new era with one break at the end of this era while I am alive, I have decided the title of this album to be “last goodbye” with a determination of parting. The 6 tracks that make up this album have my memory fragments scattered around.”

Around this time of year where everything is busy, its nice to have a piece of music that takes you out of the chaos of Christmas in a meditative fashion. “Last Goodbye” is glacial ambient, pure and simple. Much like the above øjeRum album, a minimal sound pallet is used, which does not restrict the pieces of music. It in fact centers the focus of the listener much like guided meditation does to center the person meditating on the breath (whenever the mind is distracted, return to the breath). By doing this Shirotsubaki provides a linear direction for both the music and those engaging with it.

“Autumn Blanket” opens the album with a cold gale and bustling feel. Small fragments of melody break through from time to time, almost obscured by the semi harsh drones. While having a focused sound variation of minimal peaks and troughs, the piece has a certain violence to it with intensity of the drones.

There is a swirling nature to Shirotsubaki’s music which is best demonstrated on “December Snow” as there is a section of oscillating sound over which tectonic plates drone outwards.

“Minatogawa” named after a shrine in Shirotsubaki’s home town is a lightly varying track that has something in common with øjeRum’s pump organ works in that it has a drones/wavy feel as the music ebbs. This is the most minimal of the album’s tracks thus far, but works well as it fulfills the meditative sounds mentioned above.

“Rokko” again a reference to the home city of Shirotsubaki. This time a reference to the mountains that lie to the southeast of Kobe. Fusing discernible guitar flickers and a wall of sound drone, which can be pulled apart to hear the various layers of dark drones and melodies. I am not sure what the weather or the environment is like, but I get the sense of rain clouds similar to those of a rain forest throughout the piece.

“Solitude”, I was expecting quite a minimal track with a title such as this, but this track is possibly the most animated one on album. Shimmering guitar pieces form a framework over which cold drones blow. I can only speculate that the cold drones reference solitude, while the guitars are the greater society or the outside world.

“Sputnik” the final track is stripped back and utilizes loops to create its base of glacial drone. Much like the satellite of the same name which orbited space for weeks, some of which were silent, before re-entering the atmosphere, this “Sputnik” orbits around with a consistent fell, pace and tone. The guitars underneath have a spindly sound, while the layers of drones are melodic with a throbbing core.

I only have Shirotsubaki’s “Chapter” album to compare with and this seems overall a darker work. I can only hazard a guess that this is a reference to the memories during the “Heisei” period which started in 1989 and they could possibly be foggy. This album is available of Digifile cd-r and Digital.

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