Review of Tail of Diffraction [12k1095]

Vital Weekly (NL)

There was a time that I wrote a lot about Minamo, but that was a few hundred weeklies ago. In 1999, Keiichi Sugimoto and Tetsuro Yasunaga started the group, and in 2001, Minamo became a quartet, adding Yuiichiro Iwashita (guitar) and Namiko Sasamoto (sax, organ) to the line-up. I understand they are now a duo again. Even when I wrote about them a long time ago, I don’t think I heard all their releases. These came on such imprints as 12K, Cubic Music, Apestaartje, Room40 and such like, let’s say, the high-quality end of mood music labels. Between 2011 and 2020, there were no new releases, and since they did an LP with Moskitoo, a CD for 901 Editions and now this collaboration with Asuna, Japanese wunderkind of small keyboards and Casio enthusiast. The six pieces were recorded in a single day, late January 2021 and one track have guest vocals by Rieko Seizo. Shamefully I must admit that I have not much recollection of Minamo’s older work; so much time has passed. But playing this new CD reminded me of the highly melodic touches in the world of ambient music. I am sure there is some processing, laptop technology and electronics in play here, but as soon as the guitars start to tinkle, there is that trusted folktronica sound that makes this music stand out from many of their laptop peers, both now and then. As far as I remember, the only other group with similar results was the Swedish trio Tape; but I admit I am no longer connected that much. There are no instruments mentioned, so I have no idea how the duties are divided on this record. I think that Asuna is the man behind the keyboards (toys, Casio’s, organs, anything, really), while Minamo is also handling keyboards, synthesizers, a piano, guitars, field recordings and those gentle processed sounds that tinkle in the background. Mood music for sure, but this is not very dark. I think of this as early morning music when the sun is just up; there is a hazy breezy air, not too hot, not too cold, but just the right late spring temperature, and you awake from your sleep, sung to life again with these gentle drones and tones. You wake up feeling refreshed, and with the vocals in the last track, it’s time to start the day. Great stuff! (FdW)

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