The eighth studio album by Japanese duo ironomi is also their first release on vinyl. Unmistakably pastoral and serene in tone, Kotonoha is evocative of walks through ancient forests and landscapes, with Junya Yanagidaira and Yu Isobe’s instincts very much in tune with nature for a long time by this point.
CD £17.99 KI-024
CD on Kitchen. Label. Edition of 1000 copies.
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Limited Vinyl LP £28.99 KI-024
Translucent green vinyl LP on Kitchen. Label. Edition of 200 copies.
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- Coloured vinyl
- Limited edition
There’s been a recent upsurge of pastoral music in the UK, captured no better than the ascendance of the likes of Richard Dawson and Craven Faults. It’s no coincidence that this arrives at a time when people are falling out of love with cities, with the urban. Long-term underfunding and a lack of good jobs have meant cities are no longer the metropolises of opportunity they once promised to be. People are yearning for the country.
Ironomi are also concerned with the pastoral, that should be immediately obvious. Of course, being Japanese, their vision of the countryside, and what it represents to them, are vastly different than musicians from the UK, but I feel like their motivations might be the same. The current wave of UK pastoral music tends to verge on the psychedelic, seeing the countryside as strange and unpredictable of possibility. ‘琹の葉 kotonoha’ is more serene and minimal that that.
The album is mostly played on the piano (occasionally joined by guitar), sparse and impressionistic melodies are plucked from the air, and conjure an impossibly evocative atmosphere. For those of you who’ve played ‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’, the music here isn’t a million miles away from that soundtrack. Like nature, the piano is always moving, never static. Often it’s quiet and calming, as on ‘shioribi’, sometimes it finds itself at a quietly thrilling gallop, as on ‘hagromo’.
The final piece, ‘maigo’, eschews some of the minimalism for a glorious climax; a polyphonic piano suite. It’s as though we’ve gone on a walk of Ironomi and come to a clearing. The view is beautiful.
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