Given the six-year gap separating Sawako's latest effort and her previous one, Bitter Sweet (12k), one could be forgiven for expecting some dramatic degree of change from the one release to the next. But perhaps the most surprising thing about is how little her soundworld has altered in the years since the 12k release. In the case of another artist, that might be cause for complaint, but in the case of Sawako's it's more a cause for relief for the simple reason that the delicate touch the sound sculptress brings to her exquisite electroacoustic settings is a rare and precious thing.

It's as unassuming in tone as the other albums in Sawako's discography. Like a soft-spoken speaker whose listeners must lean in to hear the words said, her music speaks softly, its creator confident that her glimmering soundscapes will achieve their intended impact in spite of their subdued demeanour. Acoustic piano, voice fragments, and field recordings form part of her sound palette, though their identifying qualities diminish once she's through processing them and threading them into her pieces. The temptation to label her approach micro-ambient is strong, but doing so risks underacknowledging the abundance of detail that flickers within the average Sawako construction.

Acoustic piano sprinkles dot the swelling drone that flows through “Locus of Everyday Life,” while “Piano Cote” achieves a kind of dream-like mystery as its own gently catapulting patterns accumulate in number. “Pass.age” plays like a subtly manipulated field recording of a remote African setting at night where various animal and bird types feel safe to call out to another in the absence of hunters and predators. There's a lovely drifting-like quality to “F.light” that's sweetened by ethereal swirls of synthetic sound, and the closing “In.fini” is similarly ethereal, though in this case it's largely due to the presence of a hazy choral-like element that bolsters the track's quietly epic quality.

Needless to say, each of the recording's pieces is evocative in its own way, and her music breathes with a grace that's refreshing. On a final note, only Sawako knows why a period shows up in the middle of the album title and why the same idea is applied to six of the thirty-nine-minute album's nine pieces (though we do know that nuit is French for night). No matter: mystique is always welcome in this neck o' the woods.

August-September 2014