We’ve always had a weakness for Sonic Pieces’ hand-stitched covers, shown below in an image borrowed from Sounds of a Tired City. Minor Planet contains an circle on the cloth cover to represent its title, but we’re simply going to call this “the new red one.”
The iconoclastic Midori Hirano cheerfully changes her sound from album to album. klo:yuri was an electronic album with stringed guests; the lovely Time Unbox, a collaboration with Ytamo released earlier this year, was an ambient/modern composition blend, wrapped in origami paper, containing occasional vocals. Minor Planet travels into space, imagining galaxies and stars. Electronics remain present, but are present more for adornment than tempo. The one constant is Hirano’s piano, present on each album as a connective thread, or in this case like the tether between spaceship and astronaut.
More than anything, Minor Planet is an album of texture, which makes the cover a metaphor. Run one’s fingers across the cover; run one’s ears across the sound. The electronics swirl, eschewing beats for atmosphere. Field recordings provide grounding like memories of a home planet left behind. This planet seems a peaceful place to visit, each sound source confident enough to stride forward yet humble enough to step back when another is ready to appear. Sometimes they warble; sometimes they warp; sometimes they simply wave their hands.
Listening to the album is like playing two radio stations that magically happen to be in synch. One station is playing static from distant galaxies, enhanced by ambient waves. The other offers melody and memory. The first station can be heard clearest at the beginning and end of tracks, as in the quiet hours of the night. The second occupies the great middle, like the sun-spotted day. Only on “Haiyuki” does a dark pulse begin to emit, first in the form of bass, then a progressive popping, like an answer transmitting from a long-lost Voyager 1. In the end, “Rolling Moon” imagines the water trapped below the surface, sustaining life, reflecting H.G. Wells’ visions in The First Men in the Moon. As the leaves begin to fall, exposing the sky, Minor Planet provides a perfect score for stargazing. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 30 September