Takeshi Nishimoto ~ Lavandula

LavandulaTakeshi Nishimoto has expanded his palette in recent years as part of the electronic duo I Am Not a Gun, but his Sonic Pieces debut is pure guitar.  Lavandula, the scientific name for lavender, stems from the Latin lavare, “to wash”, and symbolizes purity, peace and devotion.  The shade is reflected by the music, which is itself peaceful, despite its rapidity ~ tones comforting and clear, only occasionally augmented by processing.  To refer to this album as “the purple one” would be inaccurate, as this seemingly slight misidentification would mask its spiritual and floral associations.  Our man Prince can continue to claim that name as his.

Billed as a “late summer” album, Lavandula exudes a slight air of melancholy.  It’s being released during the season that it reflects, and begins with a telling title: “Late Summer Early Autumn”.  It’s the time of year when most people have had enough of heat and may be a little worn out from vacations, or conversely, when people have returned from vacations and are beginning to realize that it’s all over – or even worse, they’ve not gotten away at all, and are facing a new season of school or work.  And yet, some warm weather still remains, however fast or fleeting; still an opportunity to laze away an afternoon or take a dip in a slowly cooling lake: the last hurrah.  As if to reflect these tangled emotions, Nishimoto begins the disc slowly, like Steve Howe in “Roundabout”, contemplative and unhurried.  But then he picks up the pace, realizing time is limited.  Making the most of the moment, Nishimoto increases the tempo without breaking the speed limit, increases the volume without pushing it into the red, and increases the dynamic contrast without overwhelming the guitar.  By pushing far, but not too far, he demonstrates a laudable self-control.

The album does contain many quieter moments, as found in the beginning of “Drizzle (Turbine), the restrained “Remembrance”, and the sweetly rumbling finale, “Apple Tree”, which recedes gently into the mist.  These moments are doled out like short iced tea breaks, acting as soft relief when it is most needed.  The more immediate tracks occupy the album’s second half, calling on the contributions of additional instrumentation.  An electronic drone swoops in for a few seconds at the close of “Tone Water”, reappearing midway through “Strassenlaterne”.  “6/8” even contains a beat.  But the main character is always the guitar, the fearless leader around which all the other sounds flock.

If you’re reading this when it’s published (or six months later in Australia), summer’s not over ~ this album is a reminder to get out there if you can and to make the most of these warm days, before the boats are tucked in for winter and the leaves give up their green.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  30 August

Available here soon

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