Constellation Tatsu – Winter Batch 2018
Rose – ‘Transference’
The second album from Rose to appear on Constellation Tatsu recently, ‘Transference’ shows a clear development in the artist’s craft in blending elements of Ambient House and New Age amidst organic and welcoming low-fidelity. Texturally, Rose pushes what may be considered as subtle synthetic tones to their breaking point, realizing self-destruction in the form of audio breaking down and degrading; best heard on the album’s fourth track, ‘9 Circles’, and celebrating the artist’s suitability for the cassette medium. The standout track on this album is the second, ‘Eros Is Burning’; its hypnotic beats and unrelenting rhythms create an inescapable sense of intensity that is only halted by the gentle appearance of the title track that follows. ‘Seasalt’ showcases the off-kilter approach to House, with the recognizable percussive sounds of the genre without reclining into the comfort of default beat-making. As the album draws to a close with ‘Ice on the Sheets’, the sparse and murky qualities of electronic music are brought forwards, as a brooding take on minimalist progression takes over.
Hakobune – ‘Parhelion’
Hakobune! The artist that brought me to discover Constellation Tatsu years ago, and one that continues to appear on my listed influences as a musician as well as my ‘most played’ lists. Simply presented as tracks I & II for the respective sides of the cassette, Hakobune (AKA Takahiro Yorifuji) continues to deliver his iconic and dream-like soundscapes of carefully layered and processed guitar recordings. ‘Parhelion’ is deeply meditative and offers a universal transcendence from everyday chaos – a sensation that Yorifuji is capable of instilling in listeners better than anyone else. The album exists between Ambient and Drone; its long, drawn-out structure verging on Minimalism whilst remaining wholesome and fulfilling. Parts I and II may be considered as light and dark, respectively. Part I is forward in its positivity, whereas Part II is mournful and reflective in its melancholy. The layers of the album exist in a state of constant exchange, revealing no clear point of beginning or ending whilst avoiding any risk of monotony or listener fatigue. Similar to the likes of Chichei Hatakeyama, Celer, and Corey Fuller, Hakobune’s latest builds upon the impressive discography of his trademark sonic landscapes with unmatched euphoria.
memorygarden禅 – ‘districtアトランティス’
‘districtアトランティス’ is a flashback in sounds of nostalgic simplicity, resonating with the foundations of the New Age genre. memorygarden禅 maintains interest through cleverly built burst of percussive passages that inject energy into the albums already rich sound palette of lulling tones. For example, the album’s fifth track, ‘聞こえたエコー’, shows complimentary instrumentation constructed around a steady rhythmic section that maintains focus where many within similar styles often allow to drift into obscurity. Following, ‘コイgarden’ provides a moment of pause in repetition with a gentle and looped progression. The term ‘nostalgic simplicity’ mentioned at the beginning of this write-up does not refer to a lack of depth or substance within the album, but rather the use of sounds of our (at least my) younger years that memorygarden禅 gives a fresh lease of life. The album has somewhat of a cinematic feel to it also, similar to Giant Claw’s ‘Music For Film’ wherein a sense of adventure and narrative is achieved without the need for visual accompaniment. The standout track on the album, ‘sun輝く街のスカイラインの下に沈むmoon’, requires the listener to complete their journey to the very end of the album; its imaginative use of spatial variation theme-like movements summarise the overall tone of the album with grace.
Celer & Forest Management – ‘Landmarks’
Celer (Will Long) and Forest Management (John Daniel): two names that continue to appear across a variety of establish labels, who have produced numerous works I not only admire, but draw significant influence from. The two collaborate together for the first time in what proves to be a gorgeous merging of two notable names within the contemporary ambient scene. ‘Landmarks’ is lengthy and contains a vast amount of sounds and texture that show off what the two artists are capable of as individuals and when combined as a single expressive entity. The opening track, ‘7° 10° 77° 83°’ (of which a simple search reveals the location for ‘Street 77’ in Cairo, Egypt), spreads an expanding bed of rounded processed tones that make way for the slightly degraded and well-worn musical textures that fade in as the track progresses. Just how far the contents of ‘Landmarks’ varies is immediately apparent upon the entrance of the second track ‘The first steps onto their soil’, that alerts the listener to the presence of vibrant wildlife and thumping percussion. The album is constructed around a sonic reimagining of ‘The Mosquito Coast’ – a novel and film of the same name by Paul Theroux and Peter Weir respectively; it is a soundtrack based on both Long and Daniel’s interpretation of the original material of inspiration. The warmth and ambiguity of sound sources that both artists achieve with great care is showcased in fine form, and leaves a lasting impression on the listener that urges further exploration into each artist’s existing discographies.
All four releases are available via Constellation Tatsu, and can be purchased individually or as part of the ‘Winter 2018’ batch (strongly advised).