Chihei Hatekeyama: Mirror (Room40)
Chihei Hatakeyama’s latest entry for ambient/experimental label Room40 is another gorgeous foray into sleepy ambience. Its title implies looking inward, and this is pretty introspective, beatless stuff. The majority of the album is in its four long tracks of shimmering pads, each divided by a short, dated field recording, also abstract and minimal. But this juxtaposition of captured sound in between long slabs of produced drones is compelling as a narrative device, breaking up playback into discrete chapters. If his previous effort, A Long Journey, was on the serene side, then Mirror is completely sublime. It is very much a glossy surface that projects back as much as you look into it. From a distance it may seem quite plain, but it’s a rewarding albeit patient listen, reflecting on its surface with a variety of subtleties in hue, depth and saturation. Airy and light and ascending, even as it looks inwardly deeper.