a closer listen

Norihito Suda ~ Light Snowfall

Is it time for snowfall yet?  The season’s first frost is predicted for this evening, and this album is playing in preparation.  The skies are already grey.  A hint of chill is in the air.  The radiators are beginning to clank.  Any day now, it’s possible ~ the flakes may begin to appear.

Like all of Fluid Audio / Facture’s physical releases, Light Snowfall looks good, feels good and smells good.  The photos are lovely.  The incense stick is inviting.  Even the envelope is soft.

One must be in the mood for snow to enjoy this release ~ to have what Wallace Stevens calls “a mind of winter.”  The soft, descending white, the visible breeze, the light, nearly imperceptible sound: these impressions are all conveyed by this patient double disc, accompanied by a booklet of evocative photographs (or for digital customers, screen savers).  The undulating static of the opening track may well be snow, recorded as it lands, molecules binding with other molecules, edges melting on the yet-unfrozen ground.  One recalls the beauty of different shades of white from the safety of a warm house, but also the invitation to fetch the jacket and step outside, to feel the flakes on one’s face, to extend one’s tongue like a child.

As these tracks are long (none under ten minutes), they inspire a sense of temporal distortion.  Just as snow obliterates landscape, these pieces blanket time.  Light field recordings serve as markers along the way, but as they repeat, they produce a lulling effect.  This is the kindest winter: a season in which nature seeks not to disrupt, but to calm.  In the wake of so many natural disasters, the album arrives as a counterpoint.  Norihito Suda invites us to remember the beauty of small daily treasures: pebbles on a beach, windows decorated with snow.  We need not fear the winter, nor even brace for it.  Instead, we might prepare for it in small steps, taking the sweaters from the closet, stacking the firewood by the hearth.  And then, when the first flakes fall, we might stretch our hands toward the heavens and whisper a soft prayer of thanksgiving.  (Richard Allen)

Available here