When the world is spinning out of control, Still Way by Satoshi Ashikawa can bring us back to zero lickety-split. This timeless masterpiece that I consider to be Japanese ambient was released in 1982 and has not aged a day since. It is the second album in a series of 3 recordings called Wave Notation and is considered a rarity, judging from the outrageous price on Discogs. Like cherry blossoms unfolding petal by petal, each gorgeous track transports you into a lush landscape of cascading water drops and falling leaves, created by repetitive arrangements of piano chords layered with harp, woodwind instruments and vibraphone. In “Still Park Ensemble” the haunting flute lilts like a fox padding softly through a verdant forest.
Satoshi Ashikawa wove an elegant tapestry of sounds with minimal arrangements that repeat like endless fractals of pristine beauty. This was key to how he interpreted these elements to create strong yet gentle associations with nature in the listener’s mind. Tracks with names like “Still Sky” and “Image Under the Tree” are undoubtedly tributes to the redeeming qualities of the natural world. Though this talented musician died soon after the release of this record, it continues to resonate like ripples in the galactic pond.
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