VA: My Private Space

A simple scan of the artists included on this compilation—Akira Kosemura, Aus, and Fjordne among them—tells you right away what you're in for: warm, melodic electronica done with all of the grace and delicacy its Japanese producers have come to be known for. “Azure” by Akira Kosemura and Haruka Nakamura sparkles as beautifully as falling snow crystals on a sunny winter morning when entrancing piano and acoustic guitar melodies resound against a shimmering palette of tinkling percussion and electronic radiance. Wrapping wistful acoustic piano and melodica playing in a cloud of electronic dust and crackle, “Will You ...” offers a trademark example of Fjordne's distinctive style. Though Kadan's “Distance” is an over-too-fast two minutes, its classical-styled piano prettiness makes it one of the recording's sweetest offerings, and Yna's lovely waltz “Tangeline” isn't far behind.

In addition to the soothing set-pieces, the album features a goodly share of post-rock-styled pieces. With rambunctious breakbeats added to atmospheric swirl, No.9's “Left the Wind” exudes a more aggressive though no less melodic feel than many of the pieces included here. The wide-screen jubilance of his “Good Morning” proves as alluring, especially when its rhythms swing as exuberantly as the song's uplifting guitar and keyboard melodies (the song's closing guitar motif can't help but call to mind Pat Metheny's rendition of Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint ). Aus's “Halo” is likewise closer in spirit to post-rock in its buoyant sprint, and even suggests a Metheny-like breeziness in the spaciousness of its attack and its chiming guitar themes. Subtle traces of hip-hop seep into the rhythms Uran Okajima uses as a base for the elegant neo-classical piano (and violin) melodies that grace “An Old Story.” But regardless of whether a piece is rhythm-oriented or more meditative in mood, melody is always front and center in the material, making the hour-long collection a solid representation of these artists' styles.

April 2010