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0 - Umarete Wa Mita Keredo, black and white photograph of a hand holding two bird's eggs

Umarete Wa Mita Keredo

“Umarete Wa Mita Keredo” was written by 0 band member Sylvain Chauveau in 2013 to accompany a screening of a film by legendary Japanese director Ozu Yasujiro. This recording features all three permanent members of 0 (Chauveau on acoustic guitar, Stéphane Garin on percussion, and Joël Merah on acoustic guitar), with the addition of Jùlia Gàllego on flutes. The 14 short tracks are quiet and sparse, with finely delineated lines and clear, ringing notes. In this sense it bears a strong resemblance to the band’s 2014 release “Soñando”, but “Umarete…” is night to the previous album’s day, with a calm nocturnal mood replacing brilliant sunshine.

Each track on “Umarete…” is like a miniature snow globe of melodies and rhythms, its gentle flurry lasting only two or three minutes before settling again into silence. Each note spirals between sounding absolutely as itself and participating in the sounding of the flurry; this is particularly true on pieces like ‘Shi’ and ‘Nijùshichi’, where each musician’s simple repeated line swirls in and out of distinction from the whole. The sharp clinking percussion of “Soñando” is replaced by softer vibraphone tones poured out like pools of moonlight. Flutes aren’t often heard in experimental music these days, and Jùlia Gàllego demonstrates why this is such a shame: her playing is transparent, measured, and very close to breathing.

One of the inspirations behind “Umarete…” was apparently traditional Japanese music; not knowing much about this topic, I can’t really comment on the extent to which this influence is felt, though the music of Japanese group Minamo suddenly makes a lot more sense now. The music of both groups can come across as saccharine in some states of listening, but listen again and everything becomes clear and simple, a glass window wiped clean of dirt to reveal that there never was any dirt nor any glass at all. 0 continue to demonstrate how much there is still left to be done with melody and rhythm, even if most of that work consists in emptying out and clearing away; in this sense “Umarete…” is a masterclass in just sounding enough.

 

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