Tomo-Nakaguchi ~ The Long Night in Winter Light

We almost never publish a review a month before its release (this may be the first time), but we do have a good reason: The Long Night in Winter Light is a cold winter album, better suited for February chill than for March thaw.  I’ve been listening in front of a fireplace while the outside temperature has dropped to a single degree Fahrenheit and the winds have increased to 50 mph.  The music is just perfect for such an occasion: soft, safe, sedate.  The cover image conjures thoughts of both stars and flowers, a conjunction of seasons, implying that everything will be all right.

This feeling begins immediately, with the powerful strings of opener “Morning View of the Iceberg.”  The listener is swept into the stars, wrapped snugly in a comfortable sweater.  Snowflakes swirl all around, caught in sudden whips of wind.  In “Twilight Glow of the Sky,” strings cede space to piano while drones pass overhead like shifting clouds.  Throughout the set, notes hang in abeyance, too light to fall immediately to earth.  The longest track (and best title), “Snow Covered Pastel Town,” seems to rise from earth to air, a fairy tale image conveyed in sound.

This winter, many regions have seen strange winters: unusually cold, unusually warm, winters without snow, winters with too much snow.  Tomo-Nakaguchi gets the balance right, portraying a winter of ice and snow, but little danger: a winter of great beauty, where stars reflecting off frozen landscapes; an ideal winter, the type that few people experience these days, or perhaps never have; a winter of nostalgia and daydreams.  This is not only a winter that can be survived, but one many might look forward to experiencing, where wonder is the primary ingredient and even those who live in warm homes are tempted to go outside.  Will March be cold and snowy?  We don’t know; but winter’s essence is captured here.  (Richard Allen)

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