The 22 minutes of Kyōto/Nara were inspired by – and feature recordings of – the two cities in the title, that were once capitals of Japan, the latter from 710 to 784 and the former from 794 to 1869. Due to this, they feature some of the most beautiful examples of Japanese architecture (Kyoto is also one of the few major Japanese cities not bombed during WWII, which has allowed many pre-war buildings to remain intact). Listening to this new EP by Canadian artist orbit over luna, it’s easy to understand how Shannon Penner was inspired when visiting these beautiful cities, the way a place you visit for the first time can inspire (possibly what Charlotte from Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation felt when wandering the streets of Kyoto, with the music of Air and Kevin Shields in the background).
orbit over luna isn’t trying to recreate the traditional music of Japan, but makes lovely melodic music about what he experienced during his trip, and how those experiences affected him. With that in mind the impression we get from Kyōto/Nara is that of a pleasant trip, and a traveller willing to absorb everything and become part of his environment even if it is only for a short while. All this is done with guitars, samples that are used repeatedly, atmospheric sounds and field recordings that allow the listeners to immerse themselves in the world the artist is intending to take us to.
“Fushimi Inari” with its traditional Japanese string and percussion instruments introduces us to this world, while the ethereal a la My Bloody Valentine vocals of “Lost in the midst of all this beauty” put the listener in a state of bliss that is characteristic of the entire album. The music flows smoothly as we stare out of the window of an imaginary train.
They say that our perception of reality is subjective, and while identical experiences can leave a variety of imprints on people with different mindsets, that is the beauty of an album such as this one. Penner tells us a story, of peace and quiet, of beauty that is all around us – and certainly it is in his music, which can be enjoyed if we have our eyes and ears open. (John Kontos)