On Snowy Days - Chihei Hatakeyama & Eluvium

on Sunday, 10 January 2010
Picture: Josh Keyes

On a week when our country has been bought to an almost stand still by a few flakes of snow, I've wanted to do nothing else than stay in bed and keep warm, wrapped up in gorgeous drones. Sadly I have to work.

In the moments between being out the house the following artists have been of great comfort to my ears. Eluvium and one half of Opitope, Chihei Hatakeyama. The latters back catalogue has been on heavy rotation this weekend, his Under the Spire release, August, 3 tracks long, each engaging and yet humble enough to fade into the background without you ever forgetting that its still there. His 2006 Kranky album Minima Moralia still sounding as fresh and can be, given a few more listens a may force its way to becoming my favourite release of his, though it has some catching up to do with last years Room40 release, Saunter.

Of even greater surpise to me has been my rediscovery of Eluviums 2003 album, Lambent Material. My main love of Eluvium has been care of his Piano pieces, especially Prelude for Time Feelers and Radio Ballet from 2007's Copia. On Lambent Material his sound is much more indebted to the drone side, opener The Unfinished is reminiscent of Polmo Polpo at his very best, There Wasn't Anything carries echoes Godspeed at their quietest, however it's the closing pair that steal the show. The 15 and a half minutes of Zerthis Was a Shivering Human Image are quite possibly the best thing i have ever heard, perhaps an over exaggeration but give it a try and see for yourself. If you were even remotely impressed by Wixel's Briksdal of last year, then this will blow your mind, achingly simple, painfully beautiful.

What Boomkat Said About Eluvium - Lambent Material:
Lambent Material is the entirely appropriately named debut album by Matthew Cooper of Portland, Oregon. Under the guise Eluvium, Cooper went on to be responsible for some of the most graceful examples of contemporary ambient electronics of recent years, but this is where it all started. The album begins with 'The Unfinished', a track that mirrors the effortless drift of Stars Of The Lid at their most vivid, but there's a considerable chane of pace on the following piece, 'Under The Water It Glowed', which manages to retain the kind of suggested, implied melody of the first piece whilst using a less obfuscated sound palette of bright synth tones and wafts of guitar. Taking a far more organic route to the same end is 'There Wasn't Anything', a piece rich in breathy woodwind and distant, reverberating piano. The longest single track on the album is up next: 'Zerthis Was A Shivering Human Image' a fifteen-minute dirge propelled by biting digital distortion on a panoramic scale (it's rather reminiscent of Fennesz's 'Circassian' from his Venice album), which eventually lapses into the exquisite 'I Am So Much More Me That You Are Perfectly You', another of Cooper's more organic, transparent works, filled with clouds of electric piano and waves of static hiss. Excellent.

Chihei Hatakeyama - Towards A Tranquil Marsh

Chihei Hatakeyama - Under the sun from The River, currently available on Hibernate

NEW ALBUM Chihei Hatakeyama - The River What the Label Said