VA: The Silence Was Warm
Symbolic Interaction

With its third release, The Silence Was Warm, Japanese label Symbolic Interaction proves itself to be no slouch in the high-quality compilation department (mind you, not all of the contributors are Japanese). There is a concept of sorts, with the dozen tracks designed to be soundtracks for ‘Ryokan,' a Japanese style hotel, and the album's theme is “What's modern Japanese style?” The mood here is definitely on the becalmed and mellower tip but the compositions, whether they're acoustic-electronic post-rock settings or becalmed meditations are consistently strong.

Library Tapes sets the tone immediately with a pretty piano etude awash in vinyl crackle (“Letters Never Sent”), and Oba Masahiro upholds the direction with “Colomo,” a quasi-classical setting of flute, cello, strings, and piano that Masahiro situates alongside swarming electronic noises. Modern Institute's (Teho Teardo, Martina Bertoni) “Cars” joins strings and electric guitars in a slow and ponderous dance, while Weave works electric piano and drums into jittery, post-rock swing in “There Are Devices” and mixes in a bit of drum'n'bass and acid too. Elegant piano-based pieces by Headphone Science (“Architecture Lifestyle Traditions and Culture”), Tanaka Munechika (the glitch-treated sparkle of “Lost”), and aus (Yasuhiko Fukuzono) (“Ram”) appear, as do heavily textured, orchestral-electronic mood pieces by Maps And Diagrams (“Phone Addict”) and Summer Night Air (“07”).

Three pieces in particular stand out, including Suntra's “Tottori,” a joyous vignette of arcade and harmonica (or melodica?) melodies and Dollboy's “Mbira Bus,” a pretty waltz of guitar and kalimba melodies and limpid pools of electronically processed sounds. Interestingly, only the closing cut turns on the heat, The Retail Sectors' (Kentaro Togawa) “Riverside Sunshade,” which deepens its stately weave of chiming electric guitars and bass with a flame-broiled, drum-based attack that escalates to a climactic roar.

August 2007