Chihei Hatakeyama
Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains





Vitreous verglas veils, diaphanous drone diffractions, endemic erudite estuaries: enter the Ambient void of Chihei Hatakeyama, composer and guitarist from Tokyo, Japan, who delivers his third work for Lawrence English’s Room40 label with Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains. Available to order directly from Room40 as well as iTunes, Amazon MP3 and cohorts, the eight-track journey sports a title that can lead to one specific subgenre only: New Age. And indeed, one might call it that, given that field recordings and synthetic ventiducts are prominent fibroblasts in Hatakeyama’s intrinsic world. However, the basic distinction between his works and the ones of other New Age musicians would be the guitarist’s fondness of his signature instrument in lieu of plethoric aureoles supercharged with synths. The guitar has always been there, but is as of late constantly recognizable in each and every track, serving as the solacing base frame of anagnorisis even in the most dreamlike states and paradisiac visions. Said states and visions, however, are augmented, amplified and extrapolated with the aid of filters, hues and alloying constituents which add chromodynamics to the amethystine peritoneums. Another big trademark is the amicability of the presented material: the compositions are never too warped and far out, always bound to a certain gravity even in aerial situations, making them earthbound and autochthonous at once. Here is a more meticulous look at Chihei Hatakeyama’s eight tracks in tandem with the multifaceted quiltings and albumin plumes.


That the listening subject is loved and greeted in a benignant way becomes immediately apparent in the opener Prince Of The Sea, a semi-lachrymose coruscating diorama comprising of heavily processed and hence oneiric guitar chords, synthetic square flumes and pristine reverb-related magnetotails deriving from the cross-linked textures. The morphogenesis is firmly set, Chihei Hatakeyama’s album won’t leave the paths of seraphic incandescence throughout its aural existence. The adjacent A Narrow Path Of The Sacred Forest is expectedly fir-green and benthic, and naturally not without a sumptuously majestic dignity. The synth-oid structures themselves are comparatively umbrageous and hazy, so it is the interplay that ensures the phytolith-powered plasticity. Longitudinal colchicine cloudlets, purified centrioles and vesiculating cristae cause a bosky sentiment that is interpolated further by the saffron-colored steel guitar granuloma. Said guitar is also the driving factor of Broken Mirror, but here its principal placenta is covered in cherubic ecomorphs. Aeriform, periglacial and spheroidal, the droning airwaves reciprocate between monoclinic wind gusts and the thermal heat as emitted by the rural-sylvan diffeomorphism of the liquedous licks. It seems as if the shards of the eponymous mirror are caulked and calcined, plasticized into a caproic mélange.


Mausoleum meanwhile is the first track where Hatakeyama’s cautious approach of progression is open to scrutiny due to the comparatively short runtime of approximately four minutes and the microlensing that provides the sound-based focal point of this locale. From the sinewy – and overdriven – rotenone rhizomes of the stringed signature instrument over the parallax layer glowing in mutualistic yearning colors to the gorgeously crystalline yttrium phase made of glistening pianos, lower mid-freq drones and demotic coils, the megafauna of Mausoleum never rests and remains fluid-processed to the maximum… an admittedly odd remark in view to the track title, but justified by the attached soundscape. The following A Bronze Pike functions as a quasi-interlude, and a bucolic one it is at that. Agglutinating mauve-tinted sunset guitars to the concestor of all nature-encapsulating field recordings, the vespertine-aerose dualism is only annihilated – and suddenly so – during the unexpected aftermath that is not to be missed.


Journey To The Imaginary Paradise thankfully returns to the stratiform mirages Chihei Hatakeyama is known for, and it is here where the viscidity of the steel guitar is breathtakingly beautiful. The pulsatile afterglow, the gregarious glissando, the orographic micro-protrusions, everything is hued in cenobitism and mutual understanding. All threatening nullspaces are covered in debonair drones. Ligneous clicks are the only punctilio-based fermions in this ethereal epithelium which invokes the sun-dappled spirit of the islands without crossing the boundaries to tackiness. A great standout for sure! Phantom Voice even absorbs many of the former’s characteristic traits, but is more volatile. Its cytoplasm consists of a bokeh of pink noise or faux tape hiss which is grafted onto the umbrageous lilts of the strings. Echoey and cavernous, Phantom Voice jitters like a sporophyte, tame and fluvial, but with detached interstices and superionic macronutrients that are more uplifting than the chirality as a whole makes you believe. Once the finale End Of The Night is running and presents its orthochromatic technicolor polymers and bedazzling scintillae which are altogether driven by euphonious tone sequences, the album has come full circle by means of its epigenetic traits while the listener floats into the ultramafic dawn.


Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains sports a title that would do a lot of New Age albums justice. However, Chihei Hatakeyama is keen on a natural photometry that is fueled and nurtured by the guitar aortas that are in the barycenter of every place, be it a mesozoic rift or a perihelic planetesimal. The partially histrionic worshipping of the synths is certainly negated by the Japanese musician, and while there seem to be synthetic particles involved in every stage of the album, their occurrence might as well be caused by the enchanting tropopause of the filters, frequency benders and viscoelastic decay that all have a common origin: the guitar. Its real trait is always audible in each and every arrangement, sometimes so strongly that the comparison to a bonfire circumambience is close at hand… Hatakeyama has released true-bred bonfire ditties after all. And yet the aesthetic homeostasis always balances things out, the recognizable aura of the guitar is no stronger a force than the zestful zoetrope of chromogenic alloys, adjuvants and additions. While the tawny lucency of the moon may not always be recognizable or seen as an important cornerstone perception-wise, Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains delivers the titular promise and gyrates dreamily between the orthogonal perianths of Hatakeyama’s rustic debut Minima Moralia (2006) and the nebulous thiazide that is Ghostly Garden (2010). Another amniotic avulsion has now been added.


Further listening and reading:

The album is available directly from Room40 as well as iTunes, Amazon MP3 and cohorts. Artist and label on Twitter: @chi_hatakeyama_ @room40speaks


Ambient Review 436: Chihei Hatakeyama – Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains (2015). Originally published on Jun. 3, 2015 at