Norihito Suda – Sunshine

Norihito Suda’s ‘Sunshine’ is the latest cassette release from the Dauw label. Suda frequently creates albums that centre around a particular theme and incorporate the sounds one might associate with said theme. So what does the album ‘Sunshine’ sound like? Well, it sounds like sunshine, of course…

Across ‘Sunshine’ Suda balances fluctuating tones that are so trebly that the ear almost has to work overtime to register what it’s hearing – the sounds fluctuating from millisecond to millisecond between being utterably pleasant to becoming something almost cringe worthy. But it’s all done with purpose – in the thematic world of Suda’s ‘Sunshine’, what’s created for the listener is the audio equivalent of a beam of sunlight reflecting off a shiny metal surface to create an even more intense beam of light that seems almost blinding to the eye. And that light in all of its blinding power shifts as the viewer moves, even in millimetres. And that’s part of the magic and charm of the artist’s oeuvre: Suda can literally create the sound of sunshine.

So much of what Suda does is to meld the world of found sound with created melodies in such a way that the found sounds create an almost tell-tale-heart-esque rhythmic centre to the music. Third piece “In the faraway distance” is a perfect example of this. Plucked guitar harmonics weave in and out of the rhythm of what sounds like a universe of insects and frogs surrounding marshlands on a warm summer’s evening. And Suda never lets the guitar overwhelm or undermine the sounds of the wild life that serve to underpin the music. But what makes Suda’s music so special is that, while many artists play with found sounds, Suda really tries to celebrate the musicality of commonplace sounds. In the context of Suda’s work, all those insects chirping really does sound like a musical chorus working in synthesis to create something whole.

Similarly, “Mist Valley” takes the sound of running water and puts it right up in the mix. Suda is careful never to smother the natural sounds that make-up a part of the compositions. Instead, the musical elements seem to almost rise up from the swells of the natural elements to accent the musicality of those sounds. The effect after hearing Suda’s work is that it puts demand on the listener to hear in everyday life what often serves as the background noise as something more, and to identify that overlooked natural musicality that surrounds us every day out in the world.

All of the seven songs that make up “Sunshine” have references to weather or the external natural world in the titles. Even when Suda isn’t drawing from found sounds, the melodies of the music seem to carry a weight given the context of the particular song title. The wonderfully titled ”The Weather of the Day was Too Calm Almost as if Nothing Had Happened” is built around gently burgeoning piano that never quite takes center stage. But the emotion of the piece is quietly optimistic and, again, Suda balances those trebly tones, almost as if making light manifest in the melodies.

Suda plays with a lot of micro sounds a la Craig Tattersall’s Humble Bee work, but what’s remarkable is how much Suda can draw from a very similar palette and yet have a different and unique voice in his music. Many artists playing in the field of minimal electronic music and found sounds use that oeuvre to express ideas of slowing life down and finding stillness, but Suda really embeds that call to experience life more slowly and more attentively right into the way the songs are developed. Duaw has released a lot of stellar music over the past years, and ‘Sunshine’ ranks up there as one of the very best. ‘Sunshine’ is something remarkable and cements Suda’s presence as an important voice in minimal electronic/ambient music.

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