Ichiko Aoba - Windswept Adan Music Album Reviews

Ichiko Aoba - Windswept Adan Music Album Reviews
Released last year, this ambitious album by the Japanese singer-songwriter utilizes lush instrumentation to create a dreamlike soundtrack to an imaginary film.

Ichiko Aoba’s greatest strength is her ability to create pockets of intimacy. The Japanese singer-songwriter’s breathy vocals and placid guitar playing, often the only sounds you’d hear on her records, create a hypnotizing shroud that makes you feel like she’s performing for you alone. Aoba has been building a following in Japan since her 2010 debut Kamisori Otome—released when she was only 19 years old—but 2018’s qp was Aoba’s first small breakthrough; it connected her with listeners abroad and cracked Rate Your Music’s top rated albums of the year. The two years between qp and her next release gave people time to get up to speed on her back catalog, retroactively catapulting 2013’s 0 to the top spot for its own year. When her latest album Windswept Adan—now her first to be reissued internationally—received widespread coverage from Western critics last year, the established faithful weren’t surprised; this is the recognition they always knew she deserved. On Windswept Adan, Aoba expands her repertoire of sound and brings collaborators into her vision, yet she still holds on to the wistful imagination that allows her to dream up private universes.

Aoba conceptualized the project as the soundtrack to a film that only exists in her head, set on two fictional islands—one where the central protagonist is from, and another, teeming with flora and fauna, she is spirited away to. She began writing Windswept Adan as a story first, intermittently showing her progress to her primary collaborator and producer, TV composer Taro Umebayashi. Umebayashi would begin to compose based on Aoba’s concepts, which would, in turn, influence what Aoba wrote next. Lead single “Porcelain” came from the idea of musically portraying weather conditions on the Kerama Islands, which Aoba visited while researching for her script. One of the album’s densest tracks, it bursts with lush strings, woodwinds, pitched percussion, and Aoba’s feather-light vocals—gentle elements on their own, but when combined they become a tumultuous storm.

Elsewhere on the record, Aoba shows restraint, reminding us that more can also be done with less. Umebayashi plays an almost improvised sounding piano number on “Parfum d’étoiles,” the recording equipment so close to the instrument that the hammers can be heard thumping the strings with every slam of the keys. Field recordings of birdsong hang in the air, and Aoba haunts the track with a distant vocal, so low in the mix that it sounds as though it could have been picked up from another room. Aoba strips back to her own voice and nimble-fingered classical guitar on “Sagu Palm’s Song,” but rather than a return to something familiar, it acts as stark punctuation; after hearing Aoba’s voice accompanied by a rich tapestry of shifting elements on seven prior tracks, here she sounds truly alone. As the story’s protagonist deepens her connection with nature—witnessing its beauty, destruction, and eventual rebirth—each track distinguishes itself as a chapter in that emotional journey.

Aoba’s imaginary film draws to a close with “Luminescent Creatures,” the heroine giving herself back to nature. First, Aoba sings, accompanied only by lightly strummed chords. Slowly, strings start to swell around her as the scene approaches a dramatic end—as the final note rings out, only sounds of ocean waves lapping a shoreline remain. It paints a striking image, inviting you to live inside the world Aoba has dreamed up. In the Dreams & Visions companion book to Windswept Adan, she writes that she hoped her fantasies would immerse her more deeply into the world that she was laboring to create with every passing day. “Not knowing whether I’m asleep or awake is a sign that I’m on the right path,” she said. As Ichiko Aoba continued to dream bigger, it only makes sense that her music would keep expanding to fill the space.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ichiko Aoba - Windswept Adan Music Album Reviews Ichiko Aoba - Windswept Adan Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 29, 2021 Rating: 5


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