Kashiwa Daisuke – Program Music I

Kashiwa Daisuke – Program Music I – 5/5

An album of ambient electronica with a touch of experimentalism thrown in all delivered by an unknown Japanese artist, so why not? And so on whim I began to listen to the opening epic track ‘Stella,’ and it didn’t take me until the end of the track to realise that this was quickly shaping up to be my greatest discovery of the year. As forward thinking as Eno was when he wrote ‘Music for Airports,’ this doesn’t feel like a mere ambient album striving for a single emotion; this is a rollercoaster journey filled with natural chaos, beauty, and turmoil, and despite the fact it consists of only two epic tracks, holds your attention throughout. There is beauty evident in imperfect simplicity, and here he never fails to make this fact known.

The album title feels only partly true, perfectly open with the fact that he has composed this entire release by computer but the level of detail that has gone into each line; the delicate vibrations of the slowly changing pitch of the violin; the manner the acoustic guitars resonate and the gentle piano lines, its all been composed to have an all too natural feel to it, far from the mechanical sterility of most modern electronic music. It’s far more readily likened to a modern classical composition than anything else, cutting out the limitations of funding for an orchestra and allowing for a precision that can only come from your own mind. This becomes of particular importance during the changes in tempo; often assisted by drum beats performing unconventional and dissonant lines filled with erratic and abrupt cuts, gradually increasing in intensity and chaos until its climax.

There are other glitch elements thrown in as well – particularly of note in the second track, frequently finding itself wrestling to break free from the overwhelming anarchic surroundings – to create further chaotic dissonance; glorious imperfections representing the all too human mistakes and errors found in the world around us, throwing things out of balance and giving things an all the more realistic level of beauty. The sound clips at first glance seem thrown in a haphazard and yet on subsequent listens fit perfectly, demonstrating meticulous planning out. And they aren’t your standard list of random dissonant clicks and noises either, feeling specifically chosen to suit the purpose of the track; the drops, splashes and flow of running water, the harsh overtones of bells in the distance, or the gasping of breath all going into this modern masterpiece.

Both tracks are formed in the same manner and yet are played for the opposite effect; ‘Stella’ a tragic work of elegance that remains powerful and moving for its entire duration, bombastic tension inducing drums slowly building to the climax only to release wave upon wave of beautifully dissonant and natural classical orchestration, or twist in another unexpected direction; ‘Write Once, Run Melos,’ then taking this dissonance a step further to travel in the opposite direction, jagged disharmonious violins creating a scene of chaos and spiralling darkness and despair. This isn’t just ambient music creating an atmosphere or setting a mood, this is going a step beyond, creating more of an ambient concept album with a defined story that through its glorious instrumental ambiguity leaves the plot details to your own mind. This is a release that will stun you for the entirety of its hour long run time, and then still present something new each time.

Highlight: Stella