Argentine trio, The Kyoto Connection, have been making music inspired by Japan since the late 2000s. While previously confined to digital releases, their latest long-player has been picked up and pressed onto vinyl by Isle Of Jura. Gracing the Adelaide imprint`s “new rather than reissued” offshoot, Temples Of Jura, with 12 tracks, which the group themselves describe as “A love letter to the masters of Japanese ambient and environmental music.” So it`s Kankyo Ongaku-a-go-go, with totally authentic, heartfelt homages to folks like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Masahiro Sugaya, and Takashi Kokubo. Patient, unhurried, kind of concentric, patterns of soothing sighs, gently fluttering frequencies, and isolated, sustained notes. Mood-altering modulations designed for mediation at dawn, daydreaming at twilight.
While these South American aural auteurs have never actually visited their beloved land of the rising sun, 5 of the pieces are collaborations with Kyoto-based musician, Masafumi Komatsu. Together they conjure an enchanted, ethereal ambience, enraptured with the idea of an imagined, mind`s eye, Japan – one of still, calm, shrines and palaces, enshrouded in mysterious mists. Arrangements that only slowly, serenely, reveal subliminal suggestions of melody.
Everything on offer is shot through with a sonic new age shimmer, and a rippling, freshwater, sound. Painting pictures of zen gardens, shishi-odoshi, and suikinkutsu. There are echoes of the latter`s koto and bell-like chimes. Machines mimic woodwinds and gongs, sing in hushed, almost human, harmony, and there’s this buzz of busy, but whispering, wildlife. All of it is beatless, bar the closing, bumping, Mindscape III, whose stretched and stretching tones blossom like a flower in bloom. Personally, though, it`s the romantically-themed moments, A Night At Kumano Kodo, and the sublime, Setsuko`s Smile – A Cafe del Mar classic could-have-been – that take the top prize.
The Kyoto Connection`s The Flower, The Bird, And The Mountain will be released tomorrow, June 3rd, on Temples Of Jura.