As young hearts run free, a true, lasting romance can seem to be almost unreachable. As elusive to attain as it may seem, romance can still be found, despite the early, inaccurate aiming of Cupid’s bow upon younger hearts. It may take a couple of failings and false dawns to thoroughly appreciate a passionate heart when it arrives in front of us. In that time of desolation and utter dejection as the endgame is worn down and played out, we may ask why it wasn’t meant to be. All we can do is move on, and keep the belief alight that a recovery is possible. All The Other Hearts I Knew holds this belief high in her drones of reflection, of love fulfilled and the bittersweet remembrance of the past.
Our hearts are usually broken a couple of times before we find our true love, and yet perhaps music was our one true love all along, the true constant and our companion that leads and follows over the course of life. All The Other Hearts I Knew is revealed as a series of love’s altitudes and failures, a fantastic spectacle in origin and a ghostly spectre at its end. Takahiro Yorifuji, who records his music under the name Hakobune, displays a love of depth and of silenced contemplation; the focal point being illuminated upon the music, our lovers and all the other hearts we have known throughout life.
Drone fits the mantra of love and painful longing highly effectively. The deep atmospheres are almost close enough to touch, and yet, like a love that is beyond reach, they remain always just out of our grasp. The atmospheric swells that almost cry out in the air could be our own aching breath for something that just isn’t meant to be. Deeply processed layers of guitar conceal feelings that, should we voice them, could complicate friendships, and they prefer to remain shy in the depths of submersed tones. While the heart may feel enclosed, wishing to let loose any concealed feelings one may have, the music never feels squeezed in constriction. It’s an open expanse of reminiscence, and the harmony is soothed by love’s ability to melt even icy hearts.
Hakobune has captured five drone compositions of broken hearts and merciful appreciation, swimming in dense textures of love; drones that are gracious in a defeat of the heart. Broken shards begin to rotate in descending fragments. Finally fallen, they resemble the delicate displacement of cherry blossom as seen in Yorifuji’s native Japan. All The Other Hearts I Knew explores caressed environments that are sensitive and kind to our own heart. Love can hurt, but the buried theme is introverted enough so that our hearts may eventually return and run free once again, fallen leaves raked up and gathered together before being injected with a renewed belief that love will arrive when it is time.
All The Other Hearts I Knew is a whirpool of intoxicating emotional depth. Dense textures convey the darker emotional sides that we aren’t often told about when it comes to life and love, ones not written in school textbooks. There are two sides to every coin, and these emotions have flipped onto the wrong side, face down and trapped in the depths of unrequited love, the loneliness of dejection and rejection, the closing, sour notes of a relationship’s end and the promise of discovery now left in tattered ruins. An unattainable love. The memories and the countless conversations we once enjoyed with an admired one now gather layers of dust, left in the chill like the once received text messages that are now absent on a cell phone that never vibrates anymore. Silently, any lingering hope is hushed out upon hearing that there are no new messages. While it may hurt, the events always teach us and develop us as people. Like the drones, love can take us to the next level, towards a pure ecstasy. Towards light. These two sides are revealed in the music, as “All The Other Hearts I Knew” contains the head in hands dejection, and “Blackland Prairie” the strength to stand up once again. The music becomes completely immersive, like the layer of a drone; like the drone, too, it may lead on forever if it so wished, never for a second thinking that it could all end so suddenly.
The drones look back in smiling reflection on the people we may meet in our lifetime and our experiences with them. Concealed as an instrument, the guitar is transformed into a gorgeous, meditative drone. It is because of the instrument that the drones sound so deep and so expansive, creating a sound that cannot fail in its beautiful delivery. Yet, Hakobune does not merely repeat what he has previously painted in the past; the music has a personality and her own heart. Swells hover like smoke in the air, thickened as if rising from a pressure on the shoulders, like a crush that’s hard to stop thinking about, or a love that can never be. They are meditative, though, as if they still contemplate why, repeating in a never-ending thought cycle as in the looping “Interlude”. “All The Other Hearts I Knew”, in two parts and “Blackland Prairie”, again in two parts, form the rest of the album.
As the drone progresses into pink hues, Hakobune’s harmonies reel us in without a struggle. The guitar’s tone has lost its essence, one that is muddied and now closed. Ironically, this process of tonal closure has opened up a smooth, sonical palette as open as the stretched prairies. Points of light, perhaps the shards of broken love, cut open like the wounds an ex has inflicted, only to then disappear. There is a definite sense of finality in the title, too; it’s over. This finality could easily drag the music into melancholia, but the record doesn’t feel melancholic at all. If there were one word to describe the music inside, it would be reflective. Sure, there may be sadness that things never worked out, but there was a reason for the falling apart, and the appreciation never fades for those days when hours were made to feel like seconds.
The prairie’s expansive outlook masks the longing that clings to the skin upon missing a loved one, lost to the wild. Atmospheres seduce with her pure, yet concealed layers. These drones don’t pretend to be someone they aren’t; they reveal all, while never seeking attention and acceptance from others to reinforce their appearance or ego. An air of the romantic strikes like an arrow increasing in accuracy, without becoming drowned in cliches or tender sentimentality. The coda, “Blackland Prairie Part Two”, leaves everything in a stunningly beautiful loop that is not as dark as the black space it suggests. It’s a breathtaking cycle of music that slowly loops in subliminal repetitions, echoing over ethereal plains that lay forever out of our reach.
Finally, she has left.
Reflective and appreciative, while shy and unassuming, the music sounds like a dream come true. It’s also deeply personal, like staring longingly out of a window and seeing the faces of everyone we have ever loved appear underneath a black sky, where a special kiss from a special someone paints the clouds in a permanent marker of pink lipstick. Cupid’s experienced arrow may not need to strike deeply with music as lovely as this, and the reflections in the music let us know that our search for love needn’t be in vein.
Fall down seven times, get up eight.
As the notes are released, they are lovingly kissed goodbye. Maybe we have already found each other. Musica, mi amor, may finally obscure all the other hearts I knew. (James Catchpole)