Hiroshi Watanabe has been creating music under the name Kaito for quite some time now. Moreso than possibly any other artist residing on the Kompakt label (although there are some contenders with artists like Justus Köhncke), Kaito seems to be one of the most unabashedly celebratory, creating a sort of neo-trance music that treads awfully close to a certain shelf-glutting, world-spanning mix CD series that has drawn the ire of more purist electronic music fans for years now.
I'll just get it out in the open and say that there are times where I actually enjoy listening to trance music, and I'm not ashamed to say it. It's not very challenging, but there are times when growling basslines and overly aggressive beats just don't seem to roll into my ears like they should, yet at those times pure ambient music isn't engaging enough. It's at times like that where releases like Hundred Million Light Years fill a valuable niche. Hovering somewhere between house, ambient, and trance music, this long release (nine tracks run seventy-five minutes) has enough energy to keep my mind clipping along, but doesn't have anything harsh or out-of-place to distract me.
And really, that's the essence of Kaito in general. If you've heard his work on compilations like the great Kompakt 100, you already know that his work occupies a unique spot on the label. There isn't a single track on this release under seven minutes, and things usually take their time unfolding before really spreading their wings (paper cranes, anyone?). Album opener "Color Of Feels" finds repeating loops of synth strings building over swoopy, curled-back guitar-esque swirls as a beat slowly gains traction before thumping through and through.
Elsewhere, similar patterns emerge as "Natural Source" builds from soft, hazy pulses before a beat kicks in and the rest of the track finds him alternately pulling back on the rhythm and melody. Considering this is his eighth release for Kompakt, Watanabe is pretty much an old pro at creating this kind of music by now. There are places on the album (such as during the squiggly synth lines of "Nobody Could Be Alone" and "Holding A Baby") where the sheer trance-lite sounds reach almost cheese-inducing levels, but if you've heard his work before, you know what you're in for. This is happy music for times when you simply want to forget the ills of the outside world.