Ryoko Akama - Dial 45-21-95 [Another Timbre - 2019]Dial 45-21-95’ severs up eleven slices of melancholically drifting and bleakly soothing modern classical/ modern composition themed around the work of respected art-house director Krzysztof Kieslowski. The tracks are composed by minimalist sound artist/composer/performer Ryoko Akama, and played with great care & stark wonder by respected contemporary music ensemble the Apartment House.
The eleven pieces here each run between just over one and nearing eleven minutes- with a full CD total runtime of rather generous seventy-three minutes. The players here are Anton Lukoszevieze –cello, Mira Benjamin –violin, Simon Limbrick -vibraphone & percussion, Heather Roche –clarinet, Kathryn Williams -alto flute Lucio Tasca & Cristian Alvear -guitars, and Philip Thomas & Kerry Yong –piano. All of the players don’t appear on every track, instead, their talents & sonic textures are carefully picked to fit each track. The pieces were composed by Akama while she was researching the archive of Krzysztof Kieslowski- which is located in the small town of Sokolowsko in South West Poland where the director grew up.
Though the albums tone is decidedly bleak & downbeat throughout- there is variation here- as the tracks often slip between the genre tags of slurred modern composition, stark modern classical, organic ambience, and doomed uneasy listening/ strung-out-gloomy jazz. Through-out Akama's compositions tend to be lulling and gentle- yet at times fairly detailed, with often hazily forlorn melodies not too far away.
Things start out in fine glum and thoughtful form with “If your tooth hurts it hurts the same” with a bleakly simmering blend of carefully picked/spaced guitar notes, and a mournful haze of clarinet & alto flute shimmer. “A Sense Of Coming Back” is a lulling mix of elegantly placed piano darts and sudden flourishes, with gently darting vibraphone tones blended in. “Marble” is one of the more awkward & taut of the tracks here- as we find sliding layers of stark string & hornwork creating unease.
From it’s open notes Dial 45-21-95’ slowly-but-surely grabs and bleakly enchants the listener. It’s certainly an album you have slow down to, and let it wash over you- letting it’s gloomy-yet- often fragile harmonic charm stink into your very spirit. Subtly powerful stuff indeed, and one of the highlights of Another Timbre release schedule this year.Roger Batty