There’s a real feeling of stillness to the work of Japanese quartet Minamo. The piano chords are searching, somewhat restrained, acoustic guitar weaves in and out, gentle but high pitched drones flicker, electronics splutter and the piece Draw The Line begins to evolve, perhaps even come to life as a repetitive pulse begins to grow. It feels quite simple, somehow sweet, definitely calming, yet as the ingredients begin to coalesce, playing gently off each other, there’s so much to listen to, so many textures, so many melodic fragments. It’s not played like a conventional song, the form seems to be based of density. It feels improvised.
Techniques vary throughout the rest of the album, yet this feeling remains. There’s a slight hesitancy to the way they play and it comes across as charming. It’s very much an album for close listening, as every sound, every plink or shimmer feels important. The ring of a bell, the plucking of a thumb piano, and the deep scrape of a cello are all childlike moments of fascination and joy. Yet when these moments are placed alongside each other something truly beautiful occurs. The pieces are loose, seemingly accidental, very freeform, and very difficult to explain. This is music that slows you down, that gently draws you into it’s own pace, into it’s own logic.
That said it’s not music for new age pursuits necessarily, as there are some quite experimental techniques at play. It’s just that they’re not wrapped up with any desire to shock or provoke. Rather the strange structures, the non musical developments, the peculiar way in which the electronics and the more organic instrumentation dance around each other feels honest and pure, the way musical expression should be. Documental is electroacoustic music for the soul.
Bob Baker Fish