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Radiosonde: Radiosonde

img  Tobias Fischer

A radiosonde is a small weather balloon that measures atmospheric parameters and transmits its findings to ground stations. It’s the perfect band name for the Japanese duo of Hayati Aoki and Takashi Tsuda, whose floating, ethereal music conjures images of twilight landscapes seen from above. Songs with names like “westerlies,” “cirrus” and “troposphere” blend the pastoral sounds of acoustic guitars and autoharp with celestial electro-acoustic manipulations and subtle electronics.

The music’s most obvious characteristic is its use of space. Musical ideas unfold slowly and quietly. The band isn’t afraid to simply repeat a line over and over, coloring it with a slightly different timbre or background every few times around. Reversed sounds quietly swell beneath folky, minimalist guitar parts, captured with an endearing home recording-like intimacy. In “troposphere,” an acoustic guitar delivers sparse, downbeat strums over a sedate bass ostinato. Eventually a quiet, slow-motion melody emerges from distant reversed guitar notes. In “green path,” a pensive acoustic guitar cycles slowly through arpeggios while ambient electronics fade in and out of the background. “cumulonibus” is a shimmering cloud of autoharp, delay-heavy notes ping-ponging back and forth and moving in and out of phase with one another.

“windcoming” is particularly compelling. What sounds like a recording of shouting children becomes the backdrop for a lulling minimalist layering of guitar and autoharp arpeggios. Gentle metallic sounds subtly color the texture as the two instruments spiral around each other, moving in and out of time to create a shifting, hypnotic effect.

The music of Radiosonde is more concerned with capturing a moment in time than with transporting the listener on a musical journey. There’s little thematic development or harmonic variation within any one of these partially improvised, minimalist pieces. Rather, Radiosonde is comprised of tranquil, textural ruminations—a series of snapshots taken from a hazy above.

By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Flau Records

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