Review of Shining [12k1031]


Minamo are a Japanese quartet who perform using an unusual combination of instruments that includes electric and acoustic guitars, computers, keyboards and electronics. If the term ‘electro-acoustic’ were not so heavily associated with twentieth century modernist composition, it might be an apt one to apply to the group. The music they produce is, however, rather less intimidating than the likes of Schaeffer or Stockhausen.

Minamo create shimmering clouds of sound that twinkle and resonate like tiny aurora borealises blurring in the middle distance. There’s no hint of the acrid orange glows of contemporary urban conglomerations, the music instead conveys a strong sense of natural continuance and occasional development. This impression is in large part achieved by the group’s tender delivery: small guitar figures unfold like origami sculptures gradually returning to virgin paper. Minamo steadfastly refuse to demand attention: their music insinuates itself into the listener’s consciousness like half-remembered dreams. Concentration nevertheless pays rich dividends.

“Raum” is the musical equivalent of sitting at a table watching dust motes dance around a vase of flowers. “Tone” wheezes patiently along like an elderly woman negotiating a garden path while myriad fireflies flicker around her. “Stay Still” does just that, or almost so it vibrates and murmurs within a limited, humming space. The piece is imbued with a significant degree of pathos, as if regretting the passage of time. It’s as though Minamo are determined to reduce the passing of a single event to something infinitely slower than a snail’s pace. Perhaps they really do want to stop time, crystallise experience in microcosm. If so, their method appears similar to that of Jorge Borges’ discussion of the impossibility of movement in the face of its infinite subdivision (Avatars Of The Tortoise). “We Were” concludes this sixth missive from the group with acoustic guitar and warbling furrows of sound. The result is like a prehistoric insect caught in amber, a wish gradually fading, the sight of dandelion seeds floating on a gentle breeze in slow motion, almost obscured by remembered sunlight.

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