Audio Mixer: Chihei Hatakeyama.
Photographer: Mayuko Sumiya.
It's tough to keep up with the vast, intimidating discography of ambient composer Chihei Hatakeyama, especially when he releases around six albums per year, but nearly everything he puts his name to is of astonishingly high quality. His third album for Lawrence English's Room40 label, 2015's Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains, is one of his clearest recordings to date, emphasizing gliding guitar melodies over the creaking field recordings or grainy laptop-generated textures of his previous work. His love of dream pop is on full display here, with Cocteau Twins-like guitars wisping their way through tracks like "Journey to the Imaginary Paradise" and "Prince of the Sea." The album's eight pieces drift through wide-open spaces, recalling spectacular landscapes covered in fresh blankets of snow. A few selections such as "Mausoleum" amp up the bristling guitar distortion, but it still retains a smooth flow. Brief interlude "A Bronze Pike" packs most of the album's field recordings and nature sounds into two minutes, burying a lone, rambling guitar under a quilt of sirens, crickets, and bird chirps. The album concludes with "End of the Night," which faces the dusk and the coming day with a refreshed enthusiasm. Moon Light Reflecting Over Mountains is a definite highlight of Hatakeyama's sprawling catalog, and one of 2015's best ambient albums. ~ Paul Simpson
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