Welcome to 2020k’s first official edition of Infrasound: A word used to describe frequencies underneath the human hearing range. In this way, we hope to bring under the radar, unsigned, and independent music to your attention to get word out about those works of art that are needed to be heard among a larger group of people. Our first matter of business? Origamibiro’s newly released album Shakkei.
We first reported on Origamibiro almost two months ago, reviewing and going absolutely insane over the release of their beautiful organically tinged single/video “Quad Time”. It’s with this follow up entry that we are proud to announce the album, Shakkei is exactly what we’d hoped and dreamed for: Sonic bliss.
Shakkei, which is a Japanese word for borrowed scenery (i.e., mountains, trees, and other landscape elements that are not actually part of a garden, but can be seen from the garden and form a backdrop to it) is an extremely fitting title for the record put together by the audio/visual Nottingham trio. Not only is the album extremely organic sounding to begin with, using various brass and string instrumentation through the nine song venture, but also paints a beautiful aural landscape by using various textures and atmospheres that move us from song to song. Wind, rain, machine sounds, and other recorded settings create an ambiance that sets Origamibiro apart from other musicians in their field. Whereas artists will use these types of plugs to set up or take down beginnings and ends of their musical pieces, Shakkei’s aural states stay constant throughout the tracks they’re featured in, becoming a staple and playing a main role through them, becoming just as important to the track as the other instruments within it.
Though the feeling of true life scenery is a main focus on Shakkei, Electronic music undertones are still very much present and essential to creating the musical visions told through each song. Sampling, sequencing, and programming lay the foundation for most of the musical structures, especially through means of building up percussion sections. Conventional kick drums and snare hits are replaced through the bulk of Shakkei with more practical objects, such as pieces of paper being crumpled and ripped through “Ballerina Platform Shoes” and in “Nootaikok” it sounds as if a ball is being bounced to create the sound of a higher frequency kick.
Although the album revolves mostly around a rainy day, hopeful melancholic mood, the abrupt start to “Dismantle Piece” is sure to give a quick charge to a listener unprepared to hear the start up of a machine that runs through the song. It’s a start up that is quiet loud, but isn’t due to compression, so it’s an abrasive dynamic that sounds great and leads the way into the eerie beginnings of the track, which build up melodically and pause slightly for a high pitched frequency, which fades into mournful, drawn out string melodies, that play out the rest of the song. A fine stand out among the record.
“Brother of Dusk & Umber,” the album’s closing track best represents what the band can do when placing their musical talents under larger magnifying glass than the programming-focus the aforementioned tracks feature. A semi-distant sounding piano plays a lush melody with an authentic sounding reverb and nice reflections aiding to an overall larger and more emotional sound. The mechanics going on inside and around the piano are also recorded and pushed up in the mix to create a more diverse texture, so once the long and flowing strings come to life, everything from the engineering, mixing, mastering, composition, and playing of the instruments is exquisite that it shines as the prime example of “less is more”. There is also a lone sound at 1:52 that sounds like someone moving something, dragging out a string sound (or even more reaching: a dog bark) panned a bit to the right of the stereo mix. Whatever the case may be, it’s a wonderful subtle touch.
We’re still waiting for the Remix disc (they’re just waiting on Plaid’s take on one of their songs to be sent in), and the limited edition DVD release of Shakkei, “featuring the full album in multiple audio formats including surround sound and hi-definition stereo and an accompanying video archive of past promos, live excerpts and av experiments,” but in the meantime, the digital copy (or more pricey physical version) of Shakkei is enough to bring our full attention to Origamibiro and their visual member Joy of the Box and will be anxiously waiting to report their happenings and future projects as they roll out.
Speaking of, 2020k is proud to announce an interview with the band! We will be submitting our questions in just a few days, so if you have any for them please feel free to Tweet us or leave one on our official Facebook page!
Album rating: 4/5