Review: Tomoko Hojo + Rahel Kraft – Shinonome


So much artistic work is made around the hallucinatory potential of the night, but what about the dawn? Shinonome is a reminder that the emergence into daylight brings with it a uniquely porous consciousness. Just as the sun has yet to rinse away the darkness completely, the listener emerges into the dawn still swilling with nocturnal residue. Environment and consciousness both perch upon the crossfade between dream states and sensory lucidity. The album takes the sound of “real” spaces and events – the cawing of crows, the idle dripping of water, the commotion of a distant public – and twists them into temperate electronic interventions, as dream reasoning continues to apply its whim to the melting of bells and the smearing of footsteps. Choral voices act as a common refrain, encapsulating this night-day liminality as they rise out of the certainty of the body and reach for the rafters, clasping at an elsewhere. Whispers and mutterings also appear frequently, chopping air like the wings of pigeons and gulls, swerving between Japanese, Chinese, English and German, or shaking out of the confines of language altogether to let the mouth unravel.

Of course, the romance of the dawn is overly simplistic. These walks are not always opportunities for playful daydreaming, and many bring a restless psyche along with them. “Revealing Unknown Beings” might situate itself among birdsong, yet the creaking bedframe and uncertain whimpers project the remains of an unsettled sleep. “The Lowest Level Of The Ocean” takes on a more scenic hue, with choral voices like sunlight slanting over ponds and silhouetted reed beds, yet there’s a sombre energy infiltrating the picture. The softened boundary between opposites brings dualities into rich dialogue – inner and outer, day and night, here and there – and also collapses emotions into one another. The sad spills into the serene and vice versa.

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