Is it spring yet? No, but the season is getting closer, and Stones of Paradise is a harbinger. On the cover, the sun is shining and children are running through a gorgeous green field, the world embracing color after too long a break. The same could be said of Kosuke Anamizu (moshlmoss), who has released a series of EPs over the past few years (culminating in an all-too-short collaboration with Levi Patel last fall), but is finally releasing his first album in nearly a decade.
For those of us who remember moshlmoss, the return of these timbres is akin to a reunion. The mixture of light electronics, piano and comforting ambience is fittingly most apparent on “Remembrance,” whose parts fade in and out, revealing pillows of static. This is the moshlmoss we remember, although moshlmoss is also remembering: perhaps a loved one, perhaps happy experiences, perhaps simply who he is. The track titles “I will not forget you,” “I’ll be right here” and “Memories, ephemeral existence” contribute to this feeling of personal connection.
The expanded instrumentation exemplifies a feeling of growth. Opener “Eureka” touches upon shoegaze and post-rock, while closer “We’re leaving” rides a current of chords to a higher density, volume and emotional impact. For every sparse, pointillistic piece (“I will not forget you”), there is a lushly orchestrated companion. During the mini-suite of “I’ll be right here,” “Chasing Butterflies” and “Duet,” moshlmoss’ piano notes gather around Anzu Suhara’s violin for warmth. The stream flows, the birds sing, and all is right in the world. The parent allows them to run ahead, knowing there is no danger around the corner. While chasing butterflies, they may even sing.
As the album ends, it is still rising: an upward trajectory, a sign of hope, like spring after winter, health after lockdown, hope after despair. Paradise cannot be far. (Richard Allen)