Review: Takeshi Nishimoto – Lavandula

At some points, Lavandula carries all of the engaging traits I associate with “solo guitar”: the tiny etch marks of fret noise galloping between the notes, the unmistakable sound of skin and neatly-clipped nail striking half-worn metal strings, the chair creaks of preparation and relief that bookend each piece, and the almost inaudible clacks of saliva as a tongue unsticks itself from the palate, remoistening the mouth as some sort of concentration ritual. It is portrait of an instrument and the soul/body interacting with it; technically a duet in terms of the co-dependence forged between player and guitar, but solo in the sense that it is a solitary artistic spirit galvanising the instrument into resonant life.

But the album is caked in collaborative traces, some being more explicit than others. For example, the distant drone veil lingering behind “Late Summer Early Autumn” – a faint chord that hisses with a faint but nonetheless bracing cold, like the turning weather of September waiting in the wings – will be missed if one places Lavandula against a noisy acoustic context. Yet on “Tone Water”, the embellishment of layers and FX is unavoidable. Warm chords ripple under a gentle tremolo nestling the central groove, while glacial droplets cling to the stereo walls, tumbling softly downward like icicles melting into rainwater. Yet the one-on-one connection between myself and Nishimoto doesn’t disappear, and the little accompanying brushstrokes work to amplify the personality at the centre, with which I become warmly acquainted – colours are tweaked into brighter hues, and moments of meditative mountaintop escape are more vividly transposed into the landscape of which Nishimoto seems to be dreaming.