Dim lights have dark beginnings. Shining out of Akari (the Japanese word for light) is a phantom of a light, indistinct in its shape and structure. Saying that, the music is a micro-world of detail, populated by air bubbles of sound, and these pockets of sound are as clear as glass.
Illuha’s light is a thin, vaporous thing. In the silence, it glows in sombre remembrance. Subdued prayers are sent skywards, rising in tandem with the smoky residue of the burning flame. In the palm of the hand the light finds solace, but due to its very nature the beautiful spectacle doesn’t last long. While it burns, it is a glimmer of hope, of better things yet to come, and as the fierce orange-white light burns the clock is continually ticking down, down, down; an avalanche of wax that tumbles with every second towards its demise. The possibility that the light may be extinguished at any moment poses an ongoing threat to its survival.
Its apricot aura is sensitive and susceptible to its surroundings; the bubbles of air don’t stay for long, as if uneasy, or perhaps shy, of the world around them. The gentle electronics may be aware of their own fragility, and like a candle its life can be cut at any point. They come and go quickly, swimming in and then out of range. Because of this, the music is hard to pinpoint; it’s transparent and hard to grasp.
Tokyo duo Illuha illuminate their surroundings with subtle textures and quiet, acidic electronics. Musicians Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Date are patient as they paint their tertiary colours, with each note hanging suspended upon a thousand invisible bars of music. It requires attentive listening, and with repeated listens sounds begin to emerge, sounds that have always been there but had previously gone unnoticed. The music is quiet, as quiet as a candle’s flame. And although the feathery flicker of a flame can become a fiery, murderous inferno the music here is very Dr Jekyll. It is gentle; the music is allowed to blossom naturally, taking its time.
A natural note has a natural life to live. These long pieces are free to move wherever they want, and that includes dissonant territory. The sharp, queasy note that stutters from the piano is joined by a deeper drone. Stones tumble against each other, rocky ravines that glow in the light. Ambient textures come to settle the mood, arriving on a breeze that surges with harmony. In fact, the harmony glows just as brightly as the flame, and when it fades it is sorely missed.
As the candle sways in the dark, with each note dripping its dim light like wax, the sounds ghost in and out. The music provides shelter against the threatening void of silence, along with the protection from the outside world. Akari is a gentle soul in a world populated by indulgence and inner adoration, where personal views are often not only thoughtfully aired but stamped like the imprint of a steel boot onto anyone who will listen. The sparse arrangements are thoughtfully drawn out. They are delicate webs of sound that link up to one another with ease and fluidity. The piano hovers over the water; sparkling sunlight mirroring against the blue expanse. Breathing lightly against the music, like clouds sent rolling over a blue sky, an airy ambient atmosphere glides. The lush, fragrant harmonies are exceptionally beautiful, but it only enters towards the end of the album. In this instance though, patience is rewarded.
The scientifically minded titles, such as ‘The Relationship of Gravity to the Persistence of Sound’ or ‘Relative Hyperbolas of Amplified and Decaying Waveform’ are all well and good as they tell of the music’s inner workings, but music is much, much more than a continuous vibration. And Illuha, capable as they are of producing minimalist music as well as expansive, beautiful structures of sound, hit the heart with their harmonies. The music is held like a torch; the Statue of Liberty, set in its obstinate, slow burning stone.