Chihei Hatakeyama – Mirage

Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mirage is a soft and blurred thing, composed out of music’s liquid-like substance. Chihei Hatakeyama’s latest release is a deep reflection – a meditation, really – on the phenomenology of music and architecture. As the Earth itself was formed (a spherical kind of architecture?), music was already in existence, waiting in the silent wings. Her primal form appeared through our ancestor’s guttural cries and their use of sticks and rocks in what was a very early version of rock music. The bashing of rocks would become the origin of percussion; if you have a heartbeat, you have rhythm. As we evolved, robed voices began to emanate from dimly-lit sanctuaries, chanting in worship.

Mirage explores how sound shapes space, and how structures shape the sounds within and around them. A cathedral’s golden dome and Heaven-high arches spill out music in slow degrees, and it can only resonate beautifully within the natural reverb of the sanctum, itself a hall of echoes, while on the opposite side of the spectrum the manic, ever-changing sounds of a Saturday bazaar cut in and out, a hundred different sounds boomeranging over busy stalls and into the hustle and bustle of the street. Voices lose their power as they travel further and further away, and in a similar way a note will eventually evaporate into silence, into nothingness.

Quick-fire conversations sever pitches like a guillotine in full swing, its finale abrupt instead of dissolving in its own toxic decay, more of a sharp, sudden trip into the void and less of a slow, drawn-out spillage. Likewise, a bus shelter transcends its common appearance by emerging out of its concrete-edged cocoon and transforming into ambient music, because the shape of the structure makes the regular, everyday voice echo and echo and echo, creating a cavernous space in the middle of a uniformly-lit urban road high on stress and starved of relaxation. The shelter fades, becoming see-through; it isn’t so much another world as it is another perspective on the world, and as an electric guitar slowly swells and fades in and out of its dreamy whirlpool, this perspective in turn shapes the world around it.

Despite its focus on the physicality of architecture, there doesn’t appear to be anything solid about the music itself. The clear-eyed notes are translucent and intangible; you can’t touch them by running your fingers over them, but rather the notes are felt from inside the softer coves of the heart, on the other side of the physical barricade and soaking into the protective layers that clothe the boundless spirit.

The sound itself becomes a collective auditory experience. The music is like a pool of rippling water, a sad, leaking ocean and not a solid structure at all, seeming to glide over the brink like a lucid waterfall. But the depths of the ocean have a structure, too, as old as the starlight. Later on, deeper textures solidify things, but it’s still a lightweight, breezy sound of great agility. It’s a very human record, pointing to a relationship with structure and architecture through a scattering of voices.

Mirage is a deep and exceptionally pure ambient experience.

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