|Kosemura, Akira / Polaroid Piano|
Reviewed by: ktownsen
Beautiful succinct piano loops, awash with textures that result from
the dialogue 'tween the repeating, subdued piano melodies & the often
mysterious noise that peppers each track. Listening to this album is
like spending a half hour searching through a found envelope of a
poet's polaroids, containing unfamiliar aural snapshots that offer a
small glimpse into someone's unknowable life ("All Taken By Akira
Kosemura.") Most tracks are a series of pretty, comforting piano
loops, with subtle & often easily lost variations in phrasing - each
feels like it would mesh perfectly in a Michel Gondry or Gus Van Sant
flick. The only thing PP seems to lack is the cradling percussive company of
either rain tapping on a car roof, or the contented breathing of a
nearby lover. What really makes this album interesting & good is the
way the various noises - some of which remain enigmatic after multiple
listens - play with the soft, almost lullabiac melodies: eager
children, harmonizing birds, running water, and especially the
percussion of the piano itself (I'm convinced Kosemura mic'd this
album at the pedals) feature predominantly throughout the album, along
with a ghostly, ephemeral guitar that wanders in and out of the album.
Fitting, too - much of the prettier parts of this album stem from "the
ghost in the machine,” so to speak, as if Kosemura were taking one
(small) step from Tchaikovsky's "Seasons" to The Books' "Thought for
Food." From Japanese composer/musician and seemingly interesting cat
Akira Kosemura, 2009, Someone Good.
All instrumental, no FFCs. Play: Tracks five & six, nine, eleven.
Good for: instrumental shows, studying philosophy via public transit windows,
playlists celebrating the sky
and/or sleep falling.
* 1) Hicari (2:04): Simple loop, lots of phantom texture (dig that
siren from about:20 in), toy piano, guitar string scratches,
* 2) Faire (1:40): The piano plays a series of melodies, and the
guitar answers back every onceinawhile; at first with a nervous
scattered few notes, eventually growing into a comfortable call &
response. You've heard this track in every halfway-good indie flick
ever, when the protagonist breaks/learns from their cognitive
dissonance and gets their s*** together. Very quiet in the last ten,
eleven seconds. [NB: 1 + 2 mesh well together & could easily be played
3) April (3:14): Hopeful and uplifting. Piano as percussion
prominent. Like much of the album, reminiscent of a much diluted
Tchaikovsky's "Seasons." 2:08 begins one of the prettiest phrases on
**4) Would (3:06): Melodically, definitely one of the more rich songs
on the album. Also notable for being *mostly* devoid of noise other
than the sound of the piano itself (see note about mic'ing), until
some still unidentified noise in the last ten seconds.
** 5) Sign (2:20): This one is a hike through the woods. Birds,
contemplative peripatetic input from Kosemura's piano (via his
fingers, that is.) Guitar prominent, subtly processed & mixed with
itself backwards halfway through - totally dope.
*** 6) Tale (1:56): In this photo, repetitive sustained high-notes,
arm in arm with either even-higher keys or a toy piano (pretty sure
it's the latter) meander around a park full of happy children
conducting play-alchemy. A string of bells (chains? shells?!) form a
noisy percussive wash to perfectly balance it all out. [NB: 5 & 6 are
my favourites on the album, and play together incredibly well.]
7) Look (1:47): Nice melody, variations on which make up the entire
song. Pretty, chill. Pretty chill. Begins to fade out last 18 seconds,
nearly silent with eight seconds left, though I would recommend
playing any & every other track from this album anyway.
8) Tyme (3:38): Begins & ends with a strange, non-pedal pumping; what
an analog or steampunk version of "Welcome to the Machine" would sound
like. Lots of pedal noise, overpowers piano. Mostly same riff,
repeatedly. Not all pictures are worth a thousand words, some are just
*** 9) Guitar (1:30): Aurally and texturally, one of the more
interesting & wonderful tracks on PP. Piano takes a backseat to a
beautiful cacophony of rustling, crackling, rumbling, running,
raining, as a guitar string is slowly scratched.
Rubber-band-firing-guitar-noodling on either channel, & a bird flies
inside for a brief moment.
** 10) Venice (4:20): Similarly waterlogged as the previous track - a
waterwheel, perhaps. Kissed with small textures (the very faint sound
of either a faraway TV set/radio, or, the tendency of the brain to
invent patterns in good noise, especially when coffee is being
substituted for a good night's sleep). Piano is pleasant. The reverb'd
slide guitar that is passed from one channel to the other is just
perfect. Like falling asleep in the hull of a boat. Music is
completely faded out by 3:58, with only the noise remaining. [NB: 9
and 10 go well together.]
*** 11) Ein Leid (3:50): B-B-B-BONUS! The best piano song on the
album, and devoid of noise - this one was even mic'd typically! More
than any other track on this album, this showcases Kosemura's skill as
a composer of straightforward classical piano compositions. Last note
hits at 3:41, sustaining quietly for the rest of the track.