Invisible Island quietly removes itself from the rest of the world. Sonic Pieces return with their first release of a new decade, and the album is also a continuation of 2016’s Minor Planet. Midori Hirano’s restrained and overcast music reflects a Japanese water garden more than a sun-kissed paradise. In fact, the sun doesn’t cast much light at all. Diluted greens replace bright sands as overcast, rainy skies hang over a piano.
Hirano’s piano shares the area with a set of lurking electronics, sometimes subtle in their scurrying and sometimes snaking through the undergrowth. Some of the electronics are abrasive, but they’re few and far between, and the watery tones, spreading outwards with a series of rhythmic ripples, are always there to soften the sound.
Invisible Island is an album of rhythm, both concealed and obvious, with a gentle, undulating motion underlining the whole experience. Rhythms take the form of repeating piano lines, obtuse electronics, or a dull, continuous thumping – the sound of a heartbeat. Fluctuating drones, warbling and wobbling as if on a stormy lake, help to expand the album. Every tone adds to the record’s exotic flavour, and the music retains a vibe of cool relaxation and sober calm. The introduction of a violin on ‘Belong’ (played by Christoph Berg) keeps everything grounded and stuck in the mud of a lower register.
Rainy days can be beautiful, too, and Hirano’s music takes a different approach, the piano rippling outwards and finding its own subdued space. Unfurling like a strange flower, Invisible Island was born in solitude, and its music allows the listener to recharge. Disconnecting from the world and finding a hidden retreat such as this is not only recommended but essential for wellbeing. Invisible Island is out February 7.