Although they've released a pretty wide variety of music to date, Odori is nonetheless a somewhat surprising album for the Hefty label, who seem to be branching out even more in the past year or so. A piano album at heart, this debut by Radicalfashion (young Japanese artist Hirohito Ihara) is both highly textural and highly melodic, with elegant piano compositions bumping up against electronic augmentation and some downright experimental moments.
Ihara has said that one of his earliest musical influences is "Piano Concerto In G Major" by Maurice Ravel, and while his debut album is obviously not cut from the same cloth, it does take that impressionistic style and distills it throughout. While the overall styles of the tracks on the release vary a fair amount, it's never something that feels jarring, and the short running lengths combined with the high attention to detail actually works in the albums favor.
After opening with a short track of wet-sounding percussion, the album really unfolds on the beautiful "Suna." The four-minute track is split into several different sections, as more frantic opening moments give way to a more reflective moment before racing off again. In the final portion, the track dissolves into a haunting string coda. "Thousand" follows, and takes a repeating piano phrase and chops it to stuttering bits, building the piece slowly over the course of several minutes before some shaky beat programming brings it home.
As mentioned above, the release is surprisingly varied, with nearly every piece reflecting piano work in some way. "Shousetsu" takes a more bold composition and juxtaposes it with clipped breathing sounds and high-frequency electronic pings. "Shunpoudoh" takes short samples of female voice syllables and then mingles them alongside micro-samples of piano chords and droning strings for a track that's remarkably similar to what one would expect from The Books.
Elsewhere, "Toh-Koh" is almost pure sparkling ambient washes, while "Photo Dynasmo" seems to take several of the elements previously introduced in the album and pull them together into track that sounds different than anything else that came before it. So it goes for the album closing track as well, which takes the same percussive elements heard in the first track and layers a meditative piano piece in behind them. The whole release is over in only thirty three minutes, and the circular nature of the album and subtlety of it all just begs for repeated listens. Straddling the line between modern technology and a classical sensibility, Odori is an excellent debut.