Hoshiko Yamane‘s music flutters like a young butterfly, perhaps one just born. The Japanese violinist is based in Berlin, and she’s a current member of Tangerine Dream. On her third solo album, Threads, her violin sings with the positivity of direct, youthful sunlight. Radiant and energetic, but well-paced and sensitive of its place, her violin is blown as if on the lightest of spring winds; an unraveling series of dawn-lit notes which take flight as soon as the sun rises.
Yamane’s music is like a thread itself, often finding a phrase or a particular melody to hold onto and then developing it into a well-bodied piece; a single thread blossoming into something tangible and whole. And her music enjoys a full, well-lived life. Threads is absent of fat, but it isn’t skeletal. The music is lean without entering the field of bare-boned minimalism. Saying that, her melodies are paper-thin, as delicate as the faint creeping of first light.
Yamane’s violins are united together, and they play with an unmatched elegance. When a degree of uncertainty enters the picture, such as on “Tangled”, the violin, although not quite resolving, is still able to escape the thorns without too much in the way of injury. Sure, a little scrape here, a little cut there, but it’s nothing that time won’t heal.
If life is a journey (and it does appear to be), our threads make up its seasons. With so many ups and downs, weaving zig-zags and nauseating inverts, our personal lines – our personal threads – will become entangled at one point or another. Yamane’s response is to disengage calmly, to pick off the plastic which clings to and ultimately hurts the violin’s heart, and throw it away for good. Her violin will pick up the pieces slowly, clean any wounds which need to be cleansed, and leave the situation behind, not littered with negativity or a scattering of distress or heartache, but with increased wisdom, thankfulness, and gratitude. The music’s heart was always benevolent, but it changes still further to encompass an even greater degree of kindness. Everything about the music is tidy. In this respect, Yamane’s music is a form of reincarnation; a butterfly loosening the shell of her cocoon.
Her primary melodies sit on top of layered violins, creating fruitful harmonies and tasteful, poetic sections, but other parts soar along with them, flying in tandem, as a flock. “The Genial Sunshine” is soothing, meditative in its exhalations, repeating (waiting) and repeating (waiting) and repeating (waiting) until its golden, glorious time arrives. It’s the wait for sunshine, the wait for new life, the wait for a new opportunity, and when it releases, it’s able to flutter upwards, beaming as it goes, realizing its full potential, of what it was born to do. You’ll know when that time comes. Please treasure it.
Dancing, leaping, Threads is a sprinkling of pure joy, a dawning for the heart after the black depths of night and its false finality. She creates music of prime beauty and warmth, of life and of hope; a ballet in mid-air, and a heart whose composition sings of perennial love. We should protect it. Drink it in, and be happy. (James Catchpole)