Review: Tomoyoshi Date – Otoha

Track titles such as “Unfurling of Young Leaves”, “Floating Light on the Waves” and “The Sound of the Moon” elude explicitly to the uninterrupted serenity that occupies Otoha. Like the most gently executed moments of Cendre by Fennesz and Sakamoto, the music of Tomoyoshi Date could barely rouse the listener from the lightest of sleeps – it’s kept exclusively to soft and smooth sonic shapes, devoid of even the smallest jolt of attack. Piano notes glimmer and die like firework glow, while reverse bells zip gently across the rustle and crack of objects scraped and tapped against surfaces. In the background, one can hear intimate conversations in hallways and the dehumanized commotion of shopping mall chatter. Even these sonic pointers of life and activity seem to be experienced from a cocooned dream state, and seeing as the album was written as Date’s unborn daughter rested patiently in the womb, it’s a most appropriate feeling.

Piano harmonies are played slowly and deliberately, complete with gaps during which the “soundscape” portion of the music can take momentary focus. These elements slot together neatly, but such a connection is inevitable between such modest and delicate components. While there’s a certain sense of sedated nostalgia (perhaps a pleasant look back at life prior to parenthood), Otoha doesn’t emotionally fluctuate enough to bring any significance to this – not a speck of darkness is let in, and such strict adherence to serenity leaves its atmospheric radiance to fade into the subconscious, like a constant hiss of white noise. The record begins with a warmth derived in pleasant memory or peace of mind, though there’s a lack of depth to Date’s emotional spotlessness; the album cries out for those fleeting spells in the shadows that make the re-emergence into the light so poignant.