Top Bar
Musique Machine Logo Home ButtonReviews ButtonArticles ButtonBand Specials ButtonAbout Us Button
SearchGo Down
Search for  
With search mode in section(s)
And sort the results by
show articles written by  
 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Eisuke Yanagisawa - Path of the Wind [Gruenrekorder - 2018]

The Aeolian harp is a stringed instrument - usually hand crafted - which produces a range of harmonic tones when wind passes across it. It has a long history - imbued with romanticism and mysticism - stretching back to antiquity, from where it derives its name from Aeolus, the Greek God of the wind. For Path of the Wind - Eisuke Yanagisawa's third record for Gruenrekorder - the Japanese film maker and field recordist constructed his own Aeolian harp, mounting two microphones into its sounding board. He then recorded the tones produced at a variety of locations across Japan.

Mirroring the investigatory style of his work as an ethnographer, Yanagisawa has given these seven pieces simple descriptive titles denoting either the location of the recording - Hegurajima, In a Park - or some element particular to the sounds, for example Seagull and Ferry Passing. The latter piece opens the record and we are immediately confronted by the strange otherworldly harmonics of the harp, which are a world away from the familiar plucked sound of a traditional harp. the sound is something like a combination of feedback harmonics and pure sine tones which vary in intensity and frequency depending on what the wind is doing. On Ferry Passing the microphones mounted on the harp also pick up sounds of waves breaking against the shore of the uninhabited Narugashima island where the harp was placed.

Seagull, titled after the bird which makes a cameo appearance continues the shoreline theme, this time at a busy beach. The harp is more muted here, emitting a range of lower frequency metallic sounds which leave space for the sounds of passersby, the waves and the aforementioned seagull, which the harp almost seems to respond to; raising its pitch and volume as it passes overhead. Being entirely dependent upon natural wind power for its sounds lends the Aeolian harp a romantic, even spiritual quality that has inspired many literary works. Coleridge dedicated two poems to the instrument during a period when the harp was a common household instrument in more affluent circles. The idea of an ancient natural or mystical music coming through the instrument has inspired many an interpretation upon the harp. There are several monumental versions of the instrument located at sites across the world.

Yanagisawa may be tapping into some of this antiquity on Old Camellia Tree which locates the harp near a 1200 year old tree, deep in the Yosano-cho valley. The wind speed down into the valley must have been steady as the harp intones consistently, wavering and hovering around the mid range with minimal variation, mimicking the tree's eons of slow growth. Ridge Line, in contrast, displays more variation as the harp is given almost exclusive pride of place in the recording. There are sharp peaks and troughs in the volume and tone of the harp as gusts of wind pass across its strings. There is little background sound of the environment halfway up Mt.Oeyama, which sounds like quite a remote windy place. Yanagisawa says it took a lot of trial and error to get the harp to produce any sound at all. Varying the string materials, as well as finding the optimum angles to place the instrument, eventually yielded the results we now hear.

The last two pieces are the longest, each at over seven minutes. The extended length affords the listener more time to appreciate the extraordinary range in harmonic texture produced by the harp. On Hegurajima the progression of the sound and the way it artfully shifts across different tonal registers suggests some alien composer at work. It's hypnotic, not owing to any rhythmic element or sustained meditation on a single frequency, but rather the effect is like watching flames, or the way water flows around rocks in a stream. The harp is a mediator of natural processes, rendering them into a language we might better understand. It seems appropriate then that on Hegurajima the artist located the harp next to shrine of a God, in this case the God of epidemic prevention. The final piece Kinshozan leave us with thoughts about nature and the passing of time. The harp was placed at the watch tower on the mountain of Kinshozan, around which many fossils are located and mining for limestone takes place. Limestone of course is made from the millions of years old remains of marine organisms. We can hear the faint sounds of machinery at work below as the harp tones glide, from one harmonic texture to another. Music of the eternal wind bears witness to the harvest of time's bounty.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Duncan Simpson
Latest Reviews

Eisuke Yanagisawa - Path of the Wind
The Aeolian harp is a stringed instrument - usually hand crafted - which produces a range of harmonic tones when wind passes across it. It has a long history...
210919   Ohlmeier, Khroustaliov & Fisc...
200919   The New York Ripper - The New...
190919   Visitation - Don’t Drink The ...
190919   Stand Master - Dirty Deeds Do...
180919   The Missionary - The Missiona...
180919   øjeRum - Without Blood The Su...
180919   H.P. Lovecraft - I Notturni D...
180919   Night Killer - Night Killer(B...
170919   23 Treads - I Woke Up At Dawn
170919   Vidna Obmana - Soundtrack For...
Latest Articles

Kat Ellinger - The Many Colours O...
Giallo stands as the more flamboyant and arty of horror film sub-genres; and in recent years there has been a growing interest in the sub-genre, with an incr...
160919   Kat Ellinger - The Many Colou...
040919   The Early Years Of Allerseele...
240819   Leyland James Kirby (The Care...
060819   Stevan Mena - A Cut Above The...
280619   Michael Ridge - From Tools O...
250619   Merzbow/ Merzbow & Balazs Pan...
110619   Elsewhere Music label intervi...
170419   Damien De Coene - Pedal Chai...
120419   Raison D'Etre, Desiderii Marg...
290319   She Spread Sorrow - Who are y...
Go Up
(c) Musique Machine 2001 -2017. Celebrating 16 years of true independence!! Mail Us at questions=at=musiquemachine=dot=comBottom