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CD Feature/ Yasushi Yoshida: "Little Grace"

img  Tobias
Probably, Yasushi Yoshida is happy man. Probably, he wakes up every morning with a smile on his face, greeting the early hours with grattitude and thinking to himself: “This will be a good day”. With all likelihood, he sits down in front of his piano to write songs about the happy life he is leading, filled with harmoniously connected major chords and conveying feelings of security and bliss. But for some inexplicable reason, something goes wrong as soon as he hits the first key. His head droops, his voice cracks and his heart breaks in a burst of ardent passion, colouring the nightsky with a bloodred rainbow.

“Little Grace” is already Yoshida’s second album and again, his music has every chance of making its audience cry, weep and wail with tears of bittersweet recognition, even though no word has been spoken. On nine instrumentals, only eight of which are mentioned in the tracklist, he follows the simplest of harmonic schemes into their hidden basements and into the sidestreets of their most intimate, forbidden implications. On paper, his music consists of little more than a couple of repeated chords with intensifying timbral density, nothing but a single formula manifesting itself in songs, which begin quietly and hardly ever raise their voice beyond a faint whisper, growing in pressure rasther than volume. But in theory, his work is like a search for essence, notes turning into a nocturnal forrest, whose emmissions are warped by its own echoes and cries.

Opening “Permanent Yesterday” still has a commendable, hypnotic melody, while “Greyed” comes rushing in on the wings of a manic drum roll and jubilant woodwinds, suggesting a pastoral kind of postrock and implying an album of many moods and morphologies, constantly veering between the sad and the euphoric. The ten-minute “Thread still”, however, decides “Little Grace”’s fate in favour of dreamy melancholia and delightful misery, its achingly mournful strings in a desperate struggle to flap their wings and lift off, while directionless drums and a subdued acoustic guitar resolutely pin them to the agonies of the earth. In the middle section, the Piano takes over and leads into a more energetic finale, its faster pace proving to be no remedy, only intensifying the pain instead.

Yoshida’s method is anything but new, with dirge-like tempi, immobile musical elements and trance-like repetition suggesting a paralysis. On the other hand, his technique sounds anything but worn out even after several spins of “Little Grace”. Again and again, he finds that short melodic spike or delicate twist to the arrangement which makes all the difference. And as the album progresses, electronics and processed field recordings attain a more prominent role, deepening the pallette and creating haunting frictions: On “Three Winters or Trace”, drones are crooning their way forward, as rattles and crackles turn into themes - and is that a Theremin singing on “Under Calf, Winged Steps”?

Actually, “Little Grace” manages what few comparable releases can muster: Holding its audience’s attention from beginning to end without radically breaking the fragile cobweb of insinuations and metaphors it so carefully wove in its opening bars - being stuck has seldomly sounded this alluring. So while we sincerely hope that Yasushi Yoshida’s life is a happy one, we must also conclude that writing decidedly unhappy music is one of the best things that could happen to his listeners.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Yasushi Yoshida
Homepage: Noble Records

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