Between The Leaves is a slow-burning stunner from Pepo Galán and Shinji Wakasa. In 2019, both musicians decided to collaborate on a new album, one with free experimentation ‘without corrections or technicalities’ first and foremost. At its heart, Between The Leaves revolves around Pepo’s improvised minimalist pianos and Shinji’s ambient manipulations and additional tweaks. The ambient atmosphere traces itself around the piano and its cool, washed-out notes, never interfering, only adding (the perfect template for an excellent team). Both of these elements turn the music into something of a magic spell, ‘a journey through…the most hidden forests of Japan to a botanical garden in southern Spain’.
Shinji’s field recordings include a toy piano, which was left in a decaying warehouse, as well as the sound of rain beside a small pond and an old guitar. The sounds are like those from a leafy glade, and they’re inextricably attached to the self, chained to a vault of personal and unique memories. Nothing can disentangle a specified sound from its remembered episode. As the mind rewinds, the music starts to play. It could be a song on the radio, triggering a recollection, or a random melody spluttering from a decades-old area of the mind, rising from a graveyard of misheard lyrics and catchy tunes. No matter what it may be, the music is tied to a singular event, and the same is true of Between The Leaves.
Textures remain thin throughout the album, with its ambient slivers providing a damp bedrock. Consisting of a leaky piano and subtle, mutating tones, the music is allowed to breathe thanks to its emphasis on experimentation, but it still feels tight and well-managed. Nothing is out of bounds, but that’s not to say that things get too crazy. On the contrary, Pepo and Shinji understand the importance of musical context and the value of consistent tonality. They keep it somewhat restrained in its recollections and evocations, which only adds to its beauty.
Music: Pepo Galán & Shinji Wakasa
Mastering: Lee Yi (Rottenman Editions)
Print design: Craig Tattersall
Packaging design: Daniel Crossley