Ichiko Aoba: Windswept Adan Album Review

Ichiko Aoba’s greatest strength is her ability to create intimate spaces. The Japanese singer-songwriter’s breathy voice and placid guitar playing – often the only sounds you’d hear on her records – create a mesmerizing veil that makes you feel like she’s performing just for you. Aoba has been building a following in Japan since their debut in 2010. Kamisori otome, Released when he was only 19 years old, but 2018 qp It was Aoba’s first little breakthrough; It connected her with overseas listeners and broke Rate Your Music’s top-rated albums of the year. The two years between qp and their next release gave people time to catch up on their previous catalog, retroactively catapulting the 2013 one. 0 to the first place of his own year. When his last album Windswept Adam—Now it’s the first to be reissued internationally — it received wide coverage from Western critics last year, the established faithful were not surprised; This is the recognition you always knew you deserved. Upon Windswept Adam, Aoba expands his repertoire of sounds and brings collaborators to his vision, but still clings to the nostalgic imagination that allows him to dream private universes.

Aoba conceptualized the project as the soundtrack to a movie that only exists in his head, set on two fictional islands: one of which he is the central protagonist and the other, full of flora and fauna, to which he takes it. She started writing Windswept Adam as a story first, intermittently showing his progress to his main collaborator and producer, television composer Taro Umebayashi. Umebayashi would start composing based on Aoba’s concepts, which, in turn, would influence what Aoba wrote next. The lead single “Porcelain” grew out of the idea of ​​musically portraying the weather conditions in the Kerama Islands, which Aoba visited while researching for his script. One of the densest tracks on the album, it erupts with lush strings, woodwinds, in-tune percussion, and Aoba’s feather-light voice – soft elements on their own, but when combined they become a tumultuous storm.

Elsewhere in the record, Aoba shows restraint, reminding us that you can also do more with less. Umebayashi plays an almost improvised-sounding piano number on “Parfum d’étoiles”, the recording equipment so close to the instrument that hammers can be heard striking the strings with each hit of the keys. Field recordings of birdsong hang in the air, and Aoba haunts the track in a distant voice, so low in the mix it sounds like it’s been picked up from another room. Aoba sheds his own voice and nimble-fingered classical guitar on “Sagu Palm’s Song,” but instead of returning to something familiar, he acts as a punctuation mark; after hearing Aoba’s voice accompanied by a rich tapestry of shifting elements on seven previous tracks, here it truly sounds only. As the protagonist of the story deepens her connection to nature, witnessing its beauty, destruction, and eventual rebirth, each track stands out as a chapter in that emotional journey.

Aoba’s imaginary film comes to an end with “Luminescent Creatures,” the heroine who returns to the wild. First, Aoba sings, accompanied only by lightly strummed chords. Slowly, the strings begin to swell around them as the scene nears a dramatic end: when the final note is played, only the sounds of the ocean waves breaking the shoreline remain. Paint a striking picture, inviting you to live inside the world Aoba has dreamed of. At Dreams and visions companion book for Windswept Adam, writes that she hoped her fantasies would plunge her deeper into the world she struggled to create with each passing day. “Not knowing if I am asleep or awake is a sign that I am on the right track,” he said. As Ichiko Aoba continued to dream big, it makes sense for his music to keep expanding to fill the space.

Buy: rough trade

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