One of our first reviews of 2022 was Cal Gibson’s take on Calm’s album, Before. The sunset soundtrack senpai’s latest outing, Quiet Music Under The Moon, now marks my 2023 debut. The new set features the same team of talented tomodachi – Toshitaka Shibata on piano, Yuichiro Kato on saxophone, Tomokazu Sugimoto on upright bass – with the addition of Kakuei, who provides a little steel pan. However, where their previous LP allowed the players to show off their classical and jazz chops, this new one curtails the solos to create a collection of cool, carefully crafted and controlled chillout.
The tracks nearly all have “moon” in their title, and the music is sequenced as a definite suite. Where melodic themes evolve – too traditionally tuneful to be considered kankyo ongaku or BGM – mapping a serene night’s slumber, from Drift Into Dreamland, to morning and Oyasumi, Ohayo. The songs segued together by the sound of field recorded cicadas, then summer showers, thunderstorms, and back to cicadas again.
Musically, the pieces fall into two broad groups. Those seductive softly sighing syntheses, that recall classic `80s cinematic scores – a mix of new age and moody sax that might accompany whispered words of love – and others that could pass for gently gated, pitched-down trance. Employing elegantly echoed keys, and pretty chiming repeats. Racing glissandos of bucolic post-rave bleeps. Beatless, bar a warm, womb-like bottom-end throb. Moonshower, for example, could be mistaken for Digital Justice’s recently reissued …All Gone Pear-Shaped, spun at 1/2, 1/4 speed, or an outtake from John Beltran’s seminal Ten Days Of Blue.
Dedicated to new family members, and those sadly passed, Calm’s Quiet Music Under the Moon is out now, on Music Conception.