Path of the Wind by Eisuke Yanagisawa

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Eisuke Yanagisawa | Path of the Wind
Gruen (CD/DL)

The unprocessed field recordings of Eisuke Yanagisawa were made all around Japan (2014-17) using Aeolian Harps (a stringed wind harp). On his fourth solo record since 2009, Path of the Wind includes seven tracks with a run time of over forty minutes, each named after their location or single subject as titled. Kyoto-based Yanagisawa is an ethnographer and filmmaker as well. The recording begins with Ferry Passing. It’s amazing to think that he is basically placing the instrument, in-situ, and it is able to channel the air and natural environment in this way, with only the sounds of the un-manned instrument and the nearby surroundings.  It’s a wondrous, peculiar warped processing of waves that sounds more like an alien space craft is arriving, rather than a ferry. I’d imagine he selects settings that are somewhat uninhabited and as remote as possible to channel the undisturbed place, only emitting the circulation of open air.

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We are still on the sea once his Seagull begins. The atmosphere is sparse as the bird makes its call and the water laps back/forth, the harp captures the radiance and curve of the wind. It’s a spectacular wave in and of itself amid the foamy waters. It ranges from harmonic to atonal but remains moving as if its drawing its austere acoustics, as if the artist is capturing an invisible voice, decoding it. Throughout In a Park its somewhat of a reverberating levitating act where the tonal range just continues bending until the ambient noise is reduced to a soft gurgle in the end.

One would speculate that this instrument has its tendencies to, at times, not do much at all, and this is heard on Ridge Lane. However, what does come through is an amazing understated minimalism without compromising its silences, those we experience we when take the time to observe the world around us, especially when outside major cities. There’s a meditative stillness-inducing sensibility, a centering, right here. This, for me, is the standout track, because of its most stripped down clarity. Yanagisawa says it was: “Recorded in the morning at the Kaetsu Soho Park located half way up Mt. Oeyama in Yosano-cho. Nature and objects on the mountainside fade in and out as the place where the sunlight shines gradually changes.”

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In the final stretch Hegurajima shimmers in pitch and subtlety. It’s more like the continuous after-effect of striking a gong than any harp I’ve ever heard. The tone almost has a glare at certain times. Lastly we have Kinshozan which kickstarts with a fairly quiet rattle and reverb. The striations of tone rise up and become bright spots, again an interesting nod to old school sci-fi soundtracks and life beyond our perception. The voice of the wind is striking to consider as a dialect, as Yanagisawa has done here, allowing for its whispers as well as its ranging contortions.

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