Fabio Perletta is the artist behind the monikor Øe, and also the curator of the Farmacia901 label. While the music he releases under his own name is very pared down, rarefied, and reduced to the faintest of gestures, that put out under pseudonym is more reminiscent of classic ambient electronica: warm, lush, and open. His new album “Unseed” is very much in the Øe mode, and comes courtesy of Arboretum Records’ new Hanami series, which takes its name from the Japanese tradition of contemplating the transient beauty of nature (there’s even a little packet of Japanese cherry tree seeds included with the CD).
Perletta himself is a big fan of Japanese aesthetic traditions, and the splashing water on second track “freezing, light beam” recalls Japanese suikinkutsu water-powered instruments; close listening reveals the splashes to be carefully tuned. There are nods to Japanese ambient master Chihei Hatakeyama’s calm wide vistas on “charm, hanami”, and confirmed Japanophile Taylor Deupree’s burbling rhythms on “uncertainty, green”. Still, it would be unfair to wholly attribute the album’s many attractive qualities to the influence of Japanese culture, or to reduce Perletta’s work to a list of stylistic influences. In terms of imparting a deeply calming yet somewhat wistful mood, “Unseed” proves just as effective as the classics of the ambient canon, yet not without a certain quiet insistence and vitality that seems as coherent as it is subtly distinctive.
Although quietly plucked acoustic guitar is occasionally heard, it is not overused; the electronic tones and subtly blended environmental sounds from which most of the album is woven are varied and well-crafted. It’s a testament to the artist’s skill that music such as this still sounds fresh and engaging, however familiar its tropes may be these days, and the album’s relaxed energy should appeal to a wide range of listeners. Green tea and sandals are recommended, but not required.