24 Feb 2022 - Skyler
Ambient | Audiobulb Records | Release date: 02 Feb 2022
Seigo releases a lush soundscape, ready to be explored
Prelude for the Spring is the most recent album from Seigo Aoyama, a very strong instrumentalist, composer, and sound designer from Tokyo. His background in pop, rock, jazz and classical music, as well as a strong dose of 20th century composers like Stravinsky, gives him a distinct sound that we often don’t see so well produced. Seigo’s backlog is a strong one, but one I was not too familiar with until I started listening through this album. Being unfamiliar with his work, I went in with an expectation of hearing something new, no expectations for him to live up to, like we so often find ourselves giving artists we follow. Accepting this 55 minute journey for what it is and paying close attention to all the detail is where you might find the most joy.
The album starts us with what sounds like an orchestra tuning, adding percussion, and then easing us into new sounds. This way of introducing material is held up for the rest of the album, making it exceptionally smooth. The pacing, texture, and sound design choices allow for an easy ride into, we’re never taken abruptly into the next section. Oftentimes ambient music is so hard to get right because we can be taken off guard by the track ending, sudden texture change, or a new element joining just a bit too loudly. Seigo’s very strong understanding of how we might perceive these changes leads him to dampens them so that we can stay connected and follow the auditory story he’s telling.
A well-timed release with a lot of thought, this album is undoubtedly connected to the pandemic and how much things have changed since it began; on the Bandcamp page we’re given a quote: “At the end of winter, the faint breath of life shakes the air as the world is still surrounded by the silence of death.”
This is reflected in how the music progresses. We go from a subdued Overture to a track like 6th March in which there’s snare drum, bright piano and a swirling in the ambiance like life is emerging. Conveniently, the last track on the album is titled ”Blossoms”, something that really reinforces the idea of time passage that the music makes me feel. Ambient music often is thought of as background noise and I think that for some artists it could be a purely utilitarian way of composing but there’s another layer to be explored. Heavy use of field recordings, strong sound design choices, and a lot of planning can make ambient pieces a lot more evocative than we might normally find in other forms of music.
Often you’ll hear things that sound like they could be real instruments or objects, this is where Seigo’s use of field recordings really shines. Starting with the organic sound of the orchestra and layering in more synthetic instruments keeps us grounded, we never move into the overtly otherworldly. Between shakers, pads, footsteps in the forest, and rain we really get a sense of place, even if it’s a place we might be unfamiliar with. For me, a sense of place is hard to really get right, I think we can all think of a place that we used to frequently be and feel the almost visceral imprint that the sound left on us. This album, particularly the track ”First Gale” feels very specific, like Seigo was somewhere and decided to capture that moment in time to evoke an emotional response in us.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album, it’s always so refreshing to find a new artist to enjoy and I’m glad I’ve managed to find Seigo. I’ll be on the lookout for his future releases and while I wait I’ll be enjoying his older releases, you should too!