Michiru Aoyama | Brilliant Days
Mirae Arts (LP/DL)
Broken into two untitled pieces that run just under twenty minutes each per side comes Brilliant Days from Japanese musician/producer Michiru Aoyama. Through and through this is a jewel-toned ambient record with a pace that rings of other traditional music from Japan, mostly meaning that it takes time and care to unfold, to blossom. These are guitar string manipulations that sound like a harp, and may as well be chimes and static as the sounds emanating are powerfully induced by an austere softness that quenches the tired mind.
After about ten minutes the piece fades out and re-emerges after about a minute with a more robust, saucer-shaped drone, hovering and playing on the in/out of depth of field. It’s a very shaped sound with edges that are fuzzy and breaking free. And yet other transitions are made hereafter, stretched chords are added as are other sparse percussive effects with supplemental reverb. Aoyama’s sound is bright without being too lightweight, even when it dips into its more pensive moments.
When you flip the wax platter the listener will be in for a continuation of delightful textural effects that have a seemingly more ‘live’ feel, perhaps it’s a bit of open air mics and static electricity? Any which way you hear this will be up for personal interpretation – but clearly Brilliant Days is a sweet ambient surprise this season. It has tonalities that uplift, even as they are breaking apart, in this way you begin to understand the beauty in its organic nature of erosion, of change. Playing on the soft and jagged sides of rhythm and its tendency for natural breaks, of mimicking the way in which the Earth surrounds us and constantly shifts – especially in our times of major climate challenges.
Melody and atonality, so disparate, yet Aoyama pairs the paradox. Though in total I can appreciate quiet dips in the program, though upon re-emergence they do seem to be a fairly new vignette, like a new rack rather than a straight long-player. It doesn’t disrupt as much as points the ear in a new direction. This record is all about tonal coloration, exploration of timbre, sound width and near transcendental meditation as we get into the weeds of the final half dozen minutes. And just then things shift once more to a rush of static that sounds like a dozen amplified ice skates hitting the surface in layers, slashing, sloshing, it is quite a linear set of enigmatic effects. And slowly fades, end scene.