Rain falls, a lucid rain, clearing everything. OKADA‘s music feels like this: a steady and uninterrupted stream of cleansing rain, washing away the collective grime with a shower of natural purity. The weather affects people in different ways. Sometimes, an emotional state and a specific mood will darken and decline, becoming a hive of depression, as is the case with those suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Although it can be hard to imagine, a blue sky sits above the grey. Rain can cleanse, and that’s the truth, becoming a natural thing of sharp beauty and clarity as it baptizes the body.
Last year, much of the world’s population was left with nothing but “Shredded Remains of Hope”, and January’s release is conscious of the current climate in its desperate quest to turn over a new, positive leaf with the advent of a new year. 2017 is a new dawn, and rather than tuning into the January blues, new opportunities are sought and new goals are not only set but grasped with both hands. Finding beauty among ruin and near~perfection in an imperfect world, OKADA’s electronic layering and gloopy ambient atmospheres are almost meditative in their calm, accepting and all-seeing states, even when supposedly harder beats are introduced. The rainy music helps in floating away from the world until we experience nothing but the ecstasy of perfect serenity.
OKADA’s balanced music hovers in the groove of a sweet spot. It is the feeling, albeit a transient one, that everything is alright, everything is fine. You have to look inward for happiness. Find peace with yourself, and within yourself, and everything else will take care of itself. Far from being a selfish act, it’s rather one of deep love. A gentle euphoria overtakes the opening track with the repeating words, ‘your love lifts me up’, and the long tracks are perfect vehicles for deeper explorations. In that sense, at least, it’s a pure ambient experience. A formula exists with its build-ups and breakdowns, but you don’t particularly notice them; it washes you. Warm and deep harmonies gently cycle, and blocks of slow-motion beats gently crunch underneath, like sneakers in deep white snow. Your love lifts me up.
While on the surface the music appears to be doing a lot of things, it’s amazingly still underneath. Gregory Pappas is comfortable in his own musical skin. Comfort is a very dangerous word in music (it can slip into stagnation and lazy, uninspired music quickly), but it doesn’t mean he’s resting. Every track is expressive while remaining introverted, an emotive being encountering the many yin and yang periods of downfall and uplift, of losing everything and of faith renewed, of drawing inspiration from an empty well. Through rejections and hardships, its beautiful soul has never wavered or fallen silent.
When you put the four tracks together, the album eclipses the hour mark. Each one is an outpouring of a life-story, an overflow of the heart, leaving the listener emotionally clear~headed and yet drained at the same time. The original things break down – they always do – only to shift into something new (like a new year’s resolution and the act – or art? – of self improvement), becoming something which has now evolved into a kinder, more peaceful being.
On “An Endless Battle of Memories”, light releases of air spray the sky like a gentle fizzle of stardust. After five minutes of a slow and gentle ride, the music slows down completely ~ almost as if it’s broken down or given up ~ but the warm and soulful vocals sing like a mother to her child, ready to pick everything back up. The breakdown gives Pappas the opportunity to mix up and introduce new rhythms, and they further add to the rhythmic variety and complexity.
It is above all music of kindness, and you’ll believe, as I do, that music herself is kindhearted. The beautiful sounds all converge on the final song, “Finding Peace Through Nonexistence”. The sighing vocal is uplifting and a gorgeous harmony, led by a heartfelt piano and supplemented by powerful and emotional chords, rocks you to your core. It has an open heart. It has a free spirit.
Love sounds like this.
The battles and blessings are endless, but it’s found peace. It is at one with itself, lying in bliss, taking care of itself and its loved ones as the world crumbles, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. (James Catchpole)