Is it possible to have too much "____" music? I often ask myself this question as I look through my CD collection and try to decide if I need to get rid of anything. Many times, I scan across CD after CD of ambient music and that question lingers. After all, ambient music isn't engaging in the ways that other releases are, but I find myself keeping huge amounts of ambient releases anyway, as if I'm waiting for the time when I'll need to go on a two month beatless bender.
The truth is that I've thought about why a person needs so much ambient music often, and I've come to the conclusion that it's because the pace of the world has sped up so much that I increasingly need moments where soothing ambience is there to clear my head just a bit. Despite not being as directly engaging as something with a forthright beat, there is a wide scope of ambient music, and those finely tuned moods seem to be needed (to me at least) to match up with my variety of come-down periods.
Now that I've gone and derailed a bit, I should just go ahead and say that Chihei Hatakeyama is the newest artist on the Kranky label. In addition to being a member of the electro-acoustic trio Opitope, he has been experimenting with similar sounding work on his own for some time before releasing this, his debut album. Although he relies heavily on processing on the release, it's different in the work of many artists in that all the sounds were created from organic means such as electric and acoustic guitar and vibraphone. It's this small detail that gives the album a warm and soothing feel, and his evocative song titles suggest little moments in the day that he's seemingly tried to capture in sound.
"Bonfire On The Field" opens the release with hushed crystalline tones that flutter and flourish into a sustained wash while "Swaying Curtain In The Window" opens with more overlapping tones before cascading guitar notes fall over one another before dissolving into a warm haze. On "Towards A Tranquil Marsh" and "Inside Of The Pocket," warm acoustic guitar and micro electronic pulses are joined by violin from Masahiro Kobayashi and the results are even more stunning. Basically, if you're one of those people who can't seem to get enough ambient music, Minima Moralia is going to be a release that you'll want to hunt down. Along with Brian McBride's When The Detail Lost It's Freedom, Christopher Bissonette's Periphery and Windy & Carl's The Dream House, Kranky has been on a roll this past year with great minimal ambient releases.