The keys of Yumiko Morioka`s grand piano create a music that falls like light rain. Sparse, spare, notes quickening to concentric clusters at a courtly pace. Satie-esque compositions of simplicity and grace. Waltzes with the romance of a first or last dance. Improvisations that slowly build on repeating motifs – phrases extending one note at a time. Complexity revealing itself as their song replays and each rendition echoes into the next. This intricacy added to by overdubs – more piano, a violin on Rainbow Gate, an oboe on La Sylphide – layered in infinite delay.
Recorded in the late 1980s Morioka`s Resonance, now reissued by Métron Records, has a feel that seems to stretch back much further, to say the `20s. Despite being produced, and originally released by pioneering “synth wizard” Akira Ito, this is not cool, painstakingly, patient “Kankyo Ongaku” – but instead joyful movements, with more in common with Seigen Ono`s Comme De Garçons catwalk scores. Perhaps inspired by faded sepia family photographs, rather than the possibilities of emerging technology. Storytelling melodies opposed to BGM “atmospheres” and moods.
Ever Green is particularly cinematic. I imagine it accompanying a bitter-sweet, black and white Charlie Chaplin short. I see the illuminated smiling faces of Giuseppe Tornatore`s Cinema Paradiso, lost in wonder as magic lanterns paint fantastic pictures in the air. Did I hear the piano duet from 37° 2 Le Matin? Listening to the strings on Round And Round I`m visited by rows of dancers, pirouetting. If there`s new age here, well then it`s the ballet of George Gurdjeiff`s Fourth Way. The only concessions to 80s “healing” electronics come in the form of the track-titles – “sunbeams”, “air spirit”, “silver ship” – Yumiko-san`s sampled Izu shorelines, and the occasional sighing synth voice – almost human – pitched between prayer-like chant and the eternal Om.
Yumiko Morioka`s Resonance can be pre-ordered from Métron Records. If you’d like to learn more about Morioka-san and the recording of Resonance, there`s an in depth interview by Martyn Pepperell over at Test Pressing.