Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kashiwa Daisuke - Program Music I

Within the first two minutes of the musical epic that is Program Music I, the listener becomes surrounded by amorphous groupings of musical phrases and field recordings, all blended in a sort of arbitrary manner.  For me, it does nothing less than provide a subtle level of theatrics to the entire piece that I don't shake for the rest of the album.  Nothing seems to make sense at first, be it the sound of a dissonant piano phrase, layered on top of a girl's gentle laughter, followed by the lulling sounds of dripping water, to the eventual, (What I interpret it to be, as you will understand further on) sound of a train beginning to leave a train station.
As the title implies, this album is a program piece, meaning the music is intended to purvey a story to the listener.  Bearing this in mind, it's not surprising that as you listen to this amorphous blend of sounds and music, there is a sense of purpose to it all that you can't dismiss.  The first half of this album is composed of a single song called Stella, a 35 minute track that relays the plot of a book written by Kenji Miyazawa, known as Ginga Tetsudō no Yoru, or Night On The Galactic Railroad.  The story revolves around a youth named Giovanni, who is something of a social outcast due to various issues in his family, such as a sick mother needing constant care, which garner the attention of ridicule in school.  Sounds such as children's laughter and a train picking up speed are all hints at the underlying tale being told.  On a particular evening, on the night of a Star Festival being held in Giovanni's home town, rather than visit the festivities, he is visited by a mystical train, capable of transiting the Milky Way itself.  Accompanied by his friend, Campanella, Giovanni begins his journey to distant worlds hidden in the stars.  Throughout the rest of the song, many different musical styles and devices are used, covering a wide spectrum of moods and sensations.  The build up of a moving piano melody will give way to the intensity of a climactic drum kit layered over an orchestra of strings in the foreground.  At various moments in the piece, grandiose layering of electronic and orchestral styles will crash and lull in movements as different segments of the story are being portrayed. 

Stella does nothing less than transport me into a far off and mystical locale, lined with suggestions of space travel and different worlds filled with the unknown.  This piece strikes me in a way none other has.

Complimenting the first piece, with it's own varied and grand arrangement, is the second track on the album called Write Once, Run MelosThis piece, not seeming to bear a suggested storyline, is the companion to Stella in that much of it's music and style is inhabiting the same aesthetic space left by StellaTo me, it acts as the second movement in a double feature, giving a description and idea of the universe that the story of Stella inhabits.  The details in the background, not overt in their expression in the first piece, now bare center stage in Write Once, Run Melos.  A tour of the same stars traversed by Giovanni and Campanella in their journey on the Galactic Railroad.

Kashiwa Daisuke, a notable Post-Rock artist from Japan, began his solo career in 2004 and has released an array of pieces bearing his musical style.  Based from his music, he enjoys creating blends of Classical and Electronic Post-Rock, with other notable releases such as 88, April. #02, April. #07, and 5 Dec.

- Dragon Zlayer

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