Piana – Snowbird – 4/5
Incapable of making things easy for myself, it is the solo artist Naoki Sasaski under the ‘Piana’ pseudonym that sparked my interest. Indescribably beautiful, it has an emotional power behind it that doesn’t feel as though it should work but somehow does, and in a manner that nothing else I know of can. It is the job of this review to attempt to convey how this works and I’m dubious of my own abilities in this regard; those who have seen David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” and remember the rabbits (Episode One here) may be best suited to understand this comparison, for as bizarre and unfathomable as the point being made is, the confusion over the woman crying over this unusual scene is a reflection of myself listening to this release. Emotionally torn but without any idea why. Confused? You aren’t the only one.
On the one hand this music is very simple and minimilist in the utilisation of the ambient soundscape. Slowly rising layers of synths and chords at a very slow tempo, the vocals drifting across in a dream like state layered with all the atmospheric work, stripped of all pretension and dishonesty, everything is presented in a pure and innocent yet hopeful manner. It is this side of the music that proves exemplary at displaying an ambient atmosphere of hope and of everything that should be loved and cherished in the world, and it is for precisely this reason that when the ‘glitch’ influences come into play everything becomes rather more multi-dimensional; this hope intermingled with despair in a bittersweet medley.
It is also this ‘glitch’ influence that forms the other side of this artists music, essentially consisting of layer upon layer of seemingly random, dissonant and chaotic intentionally placed ‘errors;’ buzzing, blips and scratching, tracks skipping and all manner of other track defects. Perhaps odd given the attention given to removing these defects in the past is their decisive inclusion in the music, the more ‘dance’ orientated style with a far more rhythmic focus is easier to comprehend but in music intended to have an ambient and emotional focus, the decision to use them is not one that hasn’t had a lot of thought gone into, not only by me but clearly from the artist as well.
It is before as I described it, the pinnacle of music reminding you of all that is worth cherishing in this world, and it is all the errors and glitches can do to rob this from you, teasing you on one hand only to cruelly deny you the pleasure a short way in the distance. It is these constant undulating hills of hope that define this release and lend its emotional weight, and even through the worst times with all the mechanical, frantic and chaotic whirring of the harsh machines performing at their fullest that the faint glimmer of hope offered by her distorted and barely recognisable delicate vocals are given all the more importance. I began listening to this out of a curiosity for the music at hand, but the more I listen the more appreciative of it I become. People will often derogatorily dismiss all electronica as shallow music for the simple minded, but this release proves to be anything but.
Highlights: Butterfly, Spring has Come!!!, Monster
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Sunday, 27 December 2009