On Sasanami, Japanese musician Akira Uchida teams up with a fellow countryman, award-winning freelance photographer Masao Yamamoto. In 2007, after years spent playing the saxophone, Uchida began to learn the art of piano tuning. In the middle of the process, he began to create a Clavichord, an instrument which has its origins in the 14th century. On the other side of this duality, Masao has been photographing since he was 16. Initially studying painting before moving onto his chosen medium of gelatin silver print, his photography has appeared in The New York Times and other major art magazines and publications. His museum and gallery exhibitions have touched down all over the globe, ranging from Japan, USA, Europe, Moscow, and Sao Paulo. IIKKI’s latest dialogue between a visual artist and a musical artist centres on two compatriots, and their combined artistic elegance makes for a perfect match.
The complete project is comprised of two physical imprints, namely a book and a disc (vinyl. cd). There are recommendations on how to experience Sasanami, but whichever way you look at it, the experience is a gentle unfolding. Strict rules or regulations can stifle music, but any listed recommendations are designed to enhance the experience. The book is read alone, the music is listened to alone, and then the two artforms merge to create a stunning visual/musical experience.
Fluttering electronics and somnambulant field recordings are woven with natural instrumentation, and the clavichord rolls back the years to the point of reversing time, which is befitting of Masao’s photographic style, too. Saxophone further blurs and softens the edges, erasing any rough features, as does a recurring trickle of running water. Sasanami has the feel of delicacy, its music integral to an open, breathing, and carefully-controlled ecosystem in which everything can flourish; no pollutants are in sight. A ghostly vocal, provided by Miu Sakamoto, enhances the enchantment. At first, she appears alone, a quiet vocal isolated in a forgotten forest, but the saxophone soon joins her, mirroring and singing the melody along with her, becoming a reassuring presence. The two, twenty-minute pieces are soothing, and their themes of water, stillness, and renewal helps to hydrate the music while adding to its sedate atmosphere.
With differing segments and an increase in variation, the second piece feels more active, but even so, it still remains thoroughly chilled. The sound of the water acts as a segue between its multiple strands and a differing set of tonalities. Because of this, Sasanami’s music reflects a series of photographs, as one image appears and then disappears. The music turns the page over to reveal a new photograph and a new sound, one accompanying the other. Sasanami is an achingly beautiful addition to the French outfit’s ongoing series.