Motohiro Nakashima – We Hum on the Way Home – 4/5
After a short absence from writing music reviews, finding something that truly sparked my interest enough to write about seemed to be waning until I stumbled upon this Japanese artist. Performing what I can only describe as a form of Avant-Garde Ambient, seamlessly combining subtle nods to the simplicity of pop, the rhythm of jazz, the warmth of folk and the emotional power of classical music. And yet despite the breadth of tones, and the layers of instruments interwoven into each passage, the result is an atmospheric simplicity that conveys a sense of beauty that cannot be described. At times with an earthy folk-like quality delivered by the warm acoustic guitars, at others conjuring images of lying alone in a field, watching clouds go by as the flutes whistle past.
For the most part of the album the music is comprised of two layers; the base either an acoustic guitar or gentle piano, it forms the rhythm which allows the gentle flow of the other instruments to meander over. On top of this is the primary focus, never drowning out the instrumentation behind it but rather weaving around the main rhythm of the piece, and whether they are comprised of his favourite choice of flutes, or his sparing use of saxophone, accordion, xylophone, violin’s or any number of them all, the result maintains a source of intrigue whilst still feeling minimalist; constant fluidity to the instrumentation without ever detracting from their atmospheric purpose.
Each note allowed to resonate, rising and fading naturally, filled with a constant feeling of warmth that fills the room, it’s all too easy to become caught up in the soothing serenading melodies that succeed in providing an odd sense of relaxation and comfort. Music that strives to strike an emotional chord is very difficult to write, and often has a variable degree of success, and since he says what needs to said so well perhaps the simplest way is to listen for yourself . For me, this is music that transforms my mood with a single listen, and that is surely the mark of a great piece of music.
Highlights: Tragedy of Our Field, Tow Horses, A Cat See the World Spinning Round