Water is in the focus in its various forms – waterway, stream, snow, rain – on the début solo album of Seiji Kokeguchi, titled Drift. Kokeguchi is a Japanese musician and sound artist now based in Helsinki. His ambient music moves slowly, both within pieces and between tracks, yet the motion is always consistent, like ice floes on a river in spring.
The narrow-band tape looping in Alku [Beginning], which comes across as a prelude not just because of its title, is followed by an expansion of the sound spectrum in The Flow, yet the persistent hissing analogue softness anchors it to a soft and warm harmonic base. Some sonorous affinity may be sensed with Boards of Canada, Stars of the Lid, and particularly Fennesz, but Kokeguchi’s strength is that he never stops to linger in any particular soundscape.
Waterscape conjures up a very Zen-Buddhist mood with its subdued metallic tolling and together with the next track, Main Theme – cinematic by name and nature – prompts a subtle comparison with the recently deceased Ryuichi Sakamoto. Yodaka introduces a grainier, more metallic sound but also incorporates beautiful, unexpected harmonies; in Strqua, distant arching string melodies merge minimalism with Renaissance polyphony. Lumi [Snow] sails perilously close to sounding like a TV ad with its repeating chord progression but stops short of banality.
The elements of Kokeguchi’s album are deeply sonorous and enchanting, not just suitably different from one another but also of a suitable length: the listener has time to become immersed in the soundscape but not get bored. The concluding extensive live track, Colour of the Gardens, breaks the pattern: its Impressionist continuum is framed by a continuous sound of falling rain, as if we were waking up from a dream to behold reality, imperfect but nevertheless beautiful and human.
Seiji Kokeguchi – Drift
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi