OPITOPE – Hau – CD- Spekk

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www.spekk.net 

I know nothing of Opitope or any of their personnel, so hopefully I will be forgiven for not being able to comment on their background or past works, save for their brief introduction on “Small Melodies” on Spekk a couple of years back.  However, Spekk have now gained considerable ground by releasing distinguished works by relative newcomers, and this is no exception. Opitope are a Japanese duo, Tomoyoshi Date, and Chihei Hatakeyama, helped out by one Syouhei Hatakeyama. The instrumentation here is a fairly traditional set up of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, piano, and occasional electronics, the composition, however, is far from typical, but is uniquely Japanese in its stripped- back approach, resembling the audible equivalent of the Japanese chadō tea ceremony, with its fine attention to pace and ritualistic detail.

I think it would be fair to say that there are certain parallels to be drawn to fellow countrymen such as Minamo, Fourcolour, or Motion to name but a few, and Opitope are certainly the spiritual equivalent of any of these artists. Once again, there is a deeply Zen-like quality to these pieces, as reflected in the beautifully entitled “Trees reflecting on the surface of the lake”, or “Bird standing on the fall”. In fact, these are pastoral works, rendered in aural watercolour washes that summon up the serenity and solitude of a Japanese stone garden, or days spent in warmth and sunshine, basking by water. Now that may sound a little trite or airy-fairy, but Opitope pull off these visionary tracts with skill and a lightness of touch that rarely lapses into cliché..although I am slightly discouraged by the ever growing number of artists that fall back on stock textural techniques like birdsong or flowing water to give their work a feel of tranquility and serenity.

My favourite moments on this album are ” a Goat’s Horn” that uses vibraphone and sampled electronics woven into the sound of insects to create a rich, sensuous soundscape, and “Mist on the Sea”, with it’s inverted sampled guitar, draped over shimmering electronics, occasional blips, warblings, and distant voices by water…sublime. Overall then, another successful release by Spekk, and one that will, I am sure, put Opitope firmly on the map for minimalism. BGN

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About whiteline1

WHITE_LINE was set up three years ago, in order to play and promote the work of artists and musicians working under the banner of "minimalism", in all its many guises. This has led to a regular and highly successful mix slot on the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show in the UK, and guest appearances on Resonance FM (frequenzen show). We now aim to extend the remit of the mix slots by reviewing (as often as possible) material that encapsulates and crystallises the minimalist ethic, and hopefully we'll be leading artists and audiences alike towards a deeper appreciation of this and other marginalised genres. I welcome your comments, and criticisms, and would love to hear from labels and artists who would like their work showcased on the show, or reviewed here. We regret that due to time constraints, we cannot review everything that is sent to us, but will endeavour to give exceptional work an "honourable mention" at the very least, and links to quality sites that we think worthy of mentioning. I am trying to support labels and artists as much as possible by promoting their work, not least because I am a stereotypical "struggling artist" myself, but also because there are so few younger artists entering this particular scene, and there is a danger of it becoming the sole domain of a handful of forty somethings who really ought to be doing something better with their time! Having worked for most of the more reputable underground magazines in the early 90's, I was never afforded the luxury of taking time and care over reviews, as deadlines and column space were always hanging like the sword of Damocles over me. With WHITE_LINE, I have the luxury of being able to review when I have time, and I am receptive to a particular mood, and hopefully this will reflect in the quality and length of some of the reviews. If you like what you see, please link to me to encourage more traffic through the site, and cross promote whatever is happening out there. Address for promotional material: 45 Drovers Walk Spring Park, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8BB UK

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