The ambient orchestrations of Still Air feel instantly familiar. I live here. I am stranded in distraction, dragged onward before I can properly engage with anything. I’m surrounded by too much: the incidental noises of corporeal life floating down channels of abstract electronics; the spin of bicycle wheels and chime of bells digitally altered into loops and softened into smears of sensory ephemera; oxygen and synthesisers circulating and curdling in the air above my head; piano and strings extracted from the fabric of time and woven into new arrangements. I float passively through all this noise, passing through crossroads that permit exposure to everything at once and nothing in particular. Still Air has me straddling an occupancy of the physical universe and the annuls of digital living, lost in a pale blur that resides somewhere between the two. We all fall into this dream state all too often.
It’s an uncomfortable experience, and Nobuchika manages to generate a subtle tension between these modes of living. They reluctantly coexist; glitches wriggle away from improvisatory runs of piano, while synthesisers convulse anxiously between loops of orchestral swell. Passages of light – such as the shimmering piano sustain and regulatory beeps of the title track, like the blinding brightness of post-coma awakening – are counterbalanced by the shadows of pieces like “Antilla”, whose gurgling liquids and ricocheting dissonance drag me deep underground, stranding me in a labyrinthine network of sewers and dead ends. These soundscapes often feel like works of fantastical collage, overlaying disparate worlds to form new, fictitious ecosystems of sound and material. But in truth, Still Air is a very vivid enactment of a very real-world sensation; the tales of a mind in transit to elsewhere, eternally wandering across the bridge between here and there.