While still at high school in the late nineties, Rima Kato began her music career in folk-rock duo Strrows, who gradually evolved from their jaunty pop origins towards a slower, more thoughtful folk-pop. Following her 2012 mini album ‘Harmless’, Kato’s album debut ‘Faintly Lit’ consists of a lo-fi arrangement of soft sounding electric guitar along with a selection of wood and wind instruments which carry the simple charm of her poetry delivered through her soft, gentle vocal style.
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Fables need soundtracks. Rima Kato’s ‘Faintly Lit’ gets the job done, offering something between a contented folk lullaby and the overture for a children’s adventure story -- no conflict, no bluster, just the stars twinkling and the wind blowing. There’s probably no better image for this music than the one offered on the cover: a fox, candle in hand, turning in for the night.
Using an acoustic guitar with electric supplements as her basis, and occasionally expanding into her memory box of twee branded instruments (a primitive wood section and every xylophone you ever played at school), Kato’s music sounds like something you should be saving for kids -- or, if you’re one of those grown dudes who watches a lot of Adventure Time, like yours truly, you can keep it for yourself. While these little flourishes are a constant feature through the record, they’re only fleshed out occasionally. Aside from the xylophone stardust of “Dark Clouds”, these moments are generally an aside -- unlike an artist like Shugo Tokumaru, who uses his songs as a supplement to the theatrics, Kato’s music focuses on polite picking, reassuring chord sequences and weightless cooing. It’s like Trespassers’ William, but under a duvet.
Your mileage may vary, since twee is perhaps the most relative and subjective genre ever experienced but ‘Faintly Lit’ is as subtle as it is silly, offering the sleepier end of indie pop that will appeal to fans of Vashti Bunyan’s pastoral tuck-ins. It’s nicely arranged folk music and it comes with a picture of a fox; it’s practically your favourite anime wrapped up and handed to you in a bear hug, so be grateful, will you?
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