VA: Note of Seconds
Schole Records

Celebrating three years of existence, Schole presents Note of Seconds, fifteen exclusive samplings of electroacoustic splendour featuring pieces by Akira Kosemura, Haruka Nakamura, Dom Mino', Sawako, Flica, and paniyolo, as well as from newcomers Tokinowa, Hummingbert Stereo, Ghost and Tape, Yoshinori Takezawa, and Janis Crunch. Breezy and sunny in spirit, the compilation is quintessential Schole from start to finish, though the stylistic diversity of the contributors means that contrasts emerge too.

The prototypical Schole song conjures a wistful, summery vibe using piano and acoustic guitar as primary instruments (see Motohiro Nakashima's “Waterside Birds”) but not all of Note of Seconds matches that template so simply. Haruka Nakamura contributes a jubilant piano-driven piece that exudes a subtle jazz-like flavour in its light swing (“Here”), and with breakbeats powering its chiming melodies, Dom Mino''s “Eleven” is more uptempo than most of the album's offerings. Crunch contributes a ponderous piano setting that, curiously, includes in the background what sounds like the whirr of a helicopter's blades (“Intermittent Color”). More electronic soundscape than song, Sawako and Daisuke Miyatani's “Ma Ba Ta Ki” presents a glitchy exploration speckled with acoustic guitar flutter, electronics, and the click of camera shutters. The album also includes a pretty instrumental by paniyolo and a breezy ballad by Tokinowa, a new trio featuring Akira Kosemura, Muneki Takasaka (aka paniyolo), and Crunch (presumably the one responsible for the song's breathy vocal), plus sparkling tunes by Hummingbert Stereo (“Traveling”) and ?ica (“It's True”).

The album's most beautiful moments, however, come courtesy of Schole founder Kosemura whose melodious piano settings “Fragile” and “10” (the latter, a lilting waltz, is enhanced by the guitar playing of Muneki Takasaka) stand out for being so elegant. Listening to his playing, one would be forgiven for thinking that Kosemura must have a soft spot in his heart for the playing of Keith Jarrett, as Kosemura's elastic handling of tempo and appetite for dramatic rumination at times calls to mind the American pianist's style.

December 2010