Review of Bitter Sweet [12k1047]

White Line (UK)

Another unwavering, effervescent, and dreamy release from New York based Sawako, that consolidates her position as one of the leading female practitioners of minimalist ambience. After a clutch of live outings for various events and festivals, and releases on some very prominent labels, Sawako’s brand of ambience grafts processed field recordings over delicate shavings of guitar, and other instrumentation, namely Cello, provided by Jacob Kirkegaard and Jess Ivry, and violins from Lila Sklar. Clearly, Sawako has invested her emotional energy into producing a work of sublime simplicity and concision, fostering delicate atmospherics, and exquisitely executed musicianship.

Field recordings are not as prominent here as on previous releases, although pieces like “Looped Labyrinth, Decayed Voice” hark back to the Sawako of old, feeding birdsong through a gently enveloping loop sequence. This technique will be totally familiar to her ever growing network of followers, and has essentially become something of a trademark. The beautiful refrains of “Utouto”, accompanied with a delicately picked guitar sequence from Ryan Francesconi is a straight down the line ambient piece, that conjurs images of rivers bathed in glistening sunlight, a perfect backdrop to lazy summer days. Closing track “A Last Next”, features the artist’s own voice, shimmering almost at a whisper over a gauzy, winding central theme, this is blissed out ambience, the ultimate chill pill.

Sawako’s world is delicious and delicate, and to get down to gender specifics, it is most assuredly feminine – a world of cotton candy and pink fluffy clouds, maybe, but in the hands of one of the field’s more established figures, is capably handled, and beautifully assembled. Accompanied with 12k’s slick presentation, graced with the ethereal photography of Maki Kaoru, this is one of the season’s must-have releases. BGN

View Release