Bokeh

Wil Bolton Bokeh child holding branch

Wil Bolton — “Bokeh”

The Japanese ??? (‘boke-aji’) relates to a ‘blur quality’, and has in time come to be known as a photographic technique by which ‘out-of-focus’ points of light are processed by certain lenses.

Angelic, shimmering points of light reflect the golden blonde colours; tanned feathers, indistinct in their white, tonal haze. The light is a halo that hovers and then surrounds the field of vision. Amber flares burn against the sky, but the warmth is kind, approachable. The music reels you in slowly, with great care. The opening chimes slowly envelop, carrying the listener away on a peaceable drift, a tonal raft.

The slow tempo is just what’s needed, but despite its pace there’s a lot happening. In fact, the activity on “Bokeh” is off the scale. On first glance, it’s ambient music in the process of awakening, pulling itself out of a heavy slumber just before the dawn. Look closer, though, and you will see a metropolis of glinting, vivid colours, like the trinity of a traffic light, looping endlessly. In ‘1887’, you can hear the background noise as a stream of traffic, the music flowing in one direction, towards one destination.

There are subtle, small variations in the sound. It may be an irregular rhythm, brought on by a streak of notes, or it may be the gentle insertion of a field recording. The field recordings are never an obstacle or a diversion; they just reminder us of our place in the world. The music sways back and forth. She prefers to hover, never really sticks to one tone. The lovely ambient light is an out of focus light, but the crystal clear notes that climb to the front are pointed melodic shards that glint lucidly. Its background is obscured, its supple skin shaped by love. Because of its blurry background, the music leans close and whispers of mystery, placid enough, but not entirely peaceful.

“Bokeh” bursts with a soft and gentle beauty. Like a kiss it softly settles, and even though it is a temporary thrill, it never truly leaves. The music is in flux, a vanilla light speckled with golden sand, rhythmically circling. A light use of static grazes the ambient layer, and the sound of children having fun in the playground represents the ambient layer; the distortion is a tiny cut on the music, but it’s also a graze on the field recording, a cut on the palm and the sting of the asphalt after accidentally falling over.

Seagulls hover, just a little higher than the drone. A heavier drone eclipses the lighter tones. Voices echo, but they remain a distant blur, a long way off, as unclear as the damp, muddied background. They could be a thousand miles away, because by this point there’s a real, concrete disconnect. The outside has melted away. The music has held its promise. It’s sweet escapism that blots out the many dialects and languages, takes them out of focus and replaces the old struggles with the clearer, international language of music. Bokeh is tonal honey. It has a personable nature: affectionate ambient, sensitive to the touch.

 

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