Tomas Phillips + Marihiko Hara:
Prosa, a two-part electro-acoustic exploration of ambient and modern classical themes, was produced between 2008-10 as a transatlantic collaboration between US-based Tomas Phillips and Kyoto, Japan resident Marihiko Hara. Their sensibilities overlap, with Phillips's work centered on improvisation and minimalist composition, and Hara's on introspective music that emphasizes the use of silence. Phillips recently garnered acclaim for his Humming Conch outing, Quartet for Instruments, but he's been actively recording since 2003 with releases on labels such as Trente Oiseaux and Line. Hara likewise has built up a modest discography of his own, having appeared on U-Cover, Cotton Goods, and Audio Moves.
In Prosa I, piano is the central instrument but Phillips and Hara liberally augment it with electronics, pipa, and natural field recordings (running water). The template undergoes significant revision, however, for Prosa II as the piano recedes in importance and the focus shifts to an overall ambient soundscaping style where no one instrument dominates. In the first of Prosa I's two parts, the focus is on stillness and space with the spaces between the notes as important as the notes themselves; of course, in one sense there aren't spaces at all, as the reverb that bleeds off of the piano extends into the pauses and fills the space with its own presence. In the longer second, the piano delicately threads itself across a subtle yet still animating rhythm pattern, the piano playing this time treated so that the notes literally stretch into the spaces following them as the total sound mass grows in density and complexity. Prosa II features six connecting pieces, with each slightly different in style and character. In the first part, the focus moves from acoustic piano to a floating ambient setting with an electronics emphasis. Subsequent episodes feature piano figures swathed in willowy ambient atmospheres and speckled with soft starbursts and static, an electronics-heavy setting of industrial ambient-dronescaping, (what sounds like) a setting of electric guitar treatments, and a concluding section of gauze-covered piano reflections.
Throughout the thirty-seven-minute recording, there's an unsentimental reserve to the duo's electro-acoustic material that would make it sound equally at home on 12k, Raster-Noton, and Line as on Tench. An obvious analogue is the Ryuichi Sakamoto-alva noto model, the major difference being that Phillips and Hara eschew the beat dimension that often surfaces during the Sakamoto-noto tracks and concentrate on the more ambient soundsculpting side of the equation.