This is a delightful album of Japanese-inspired music from the Shonorities, an ensemble created by Greek composer Basil Athanasiadis.
It’s an album of music that’s barely music — often more of a background ambient sound. It reminds us of Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick, an ambient album released in 1979. Brian Eno, who pioneered ambient music, said it “must be as ignorable as it is interesting,” which means this is only partly ambient, as the vocal sections are striking.
The opening Book of Dreams II (for alto flute and string quartet) starts in a clearly Japanese style, gradually becoming more Western as it proceeds. Circles (the most Hillage-like piece) suggests wind, and native American music more than Japanese, the main sound a solo piano, over an electronic tone based on the composer’s voice.
Dream of a Butterfly II was written for solo Fender Rhodes piano, more commonly seen in rock and jazz than classical. The composition is delicate and based round a number of improvised sketches, the overall theme being a butterfly moving from one flower to another.
Five Pieces on the other hand are more striking, written for female voice and piano, based on haiku. The first piece describes the bright moon at midnight, a good image for this piece, which is both tranquil and a little unsettling.
The sleeve notes say the music is “technically assured but laid-back, gentle and delicate timbres”, which is about right.
This is out now on Divine Art’s Metier label, MSV28596.
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