Music Reviews

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Artist: Chihei Hatakeyama
Title: Forgotten Hill
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Room40
Tokyo-based ambient artist Chihei Hatakeyama here offers up a musical impression of a visit to the Asuka region of Japan, specifically to ancient stone burial mounds and chambers. Consequently, the result is a 37-minute collection of wide reverbs, synthetic melodic pads and melodic guitar shades that sounds hollow, deferential and calm- as though making music for some kind of alien church.

It’s divided into nine pieces, most around the four minute mark, which come across as single-page sketches rather than deep dives into longer ambient adventures. Some of these sketches are more appealing than others. The title track, that opens the release, is a strong relaxant. The sense of breathing and gradual build in “Buddha statue without roof” is really delicious, while the vocal tones of “The big stone tomb” bring another layer of richness.

However some pieces like “The constellation space” sound more like loose and lazy improvised noodling and fly too close to sounding kitsch for their own good. Some, like “Staring at the mountain”, fade out at the point where development is due.

For me the main problem with this release is the short nature of the tracks, which makes some pieces seem underbaked. It’s as though we are brief tourists to these environments, walking through and being impressed but not stopping long enough to appreciate their nature in any detail. Other than that, it’s a rich if perhaps slightly over-familiar ambient tone that’s gentle and pleasant.



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