Pensacola, Florida is home to OKADA, but as the black crows nestle on the telephone wires and their wings eclipse the sun above, it soon becomes clear that the equally black sunglasses won’t be needed. This isn’t sunshine music, despite the fluttery, poolside beats. It sneaks outside, erasing the sun-drenched state of Florida. Only shadows, washed in a dim light, are left behind. Only until it has run its course does it think about returning.
OKADA is darkly cinematic, but it’s never bleak or depressing. In fact, the bubbly female vocals haunt the music, lifting it up with caring hands out of the dark mire and into a subdued electronic coloring that sits easily with the listener. It’s a bruise that discolors the music’s original pale skin, her original pale genre, and the vanilla blooms into a new, shady gem right in front of our eyes. The low, dull sound of classical instrumentation has been brushed aside like a September cobweb, cleaned of its original timbre. An ambient layer peels itself away, and later a hushed electronic beat shuffles itself and the music forward, proving that electronic rhythms can indeed be subtle, caring and sophisticated.
The rainy air has cleared the senses – OKADA is a refreshing change. It has a classical soul, but it’s more of a new beginning. With each track going close to or past the 10 minute mark, the music never feels dull or overly long, and while the music has a signpost, a signature phrase to hone in on, it develops and evolves as the piece progresses, sliding down different, melodic paths and avenues like tributaries of rain.
Conflicting emotions cycle through the music. It can lead to serenity but it can also bring a flood of intense love. It’s gentle, fragile, the cycling beat and the melancholic black and white notes flowing naturally, freely. It’s graceful music that lives and breathes a seemingly simple life in the face of musical complexity. There are a lot of layers underneath its surface; a slowly shifting labyrinth of sound that continually takes you by surprise.
A rainy downpour adds to the general mystique, falling upon the land and painting it with its own music. While this happens, a caressing chime sways to and fro and is in no rush to move on. The slow feel should be taken into consideration; perhaps we need to apply it to our own chaotic lives. OKADA wants us to understand that time is precious, a gift to be appreciated and not an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. OKADA has given a new meaning to modern composition, and how we think of and view the genre.
It ends on a sad, searching note; it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The blackened wings cast the same long shadows as before, only this time they seem nearer, closing in and completing the darkness. Thunder breaks overhead. The lyric “home of the brave” is musically relevant here –OKADA is an album of bravery and beauty, right up to its sober end. (James Catchpole)