Possibly one of the nicest packages to be released in 2019, Kitchen's latest, and Ironomi's 8th LP - Kotonoha. With this set, Ironomi invoke their own form of Japanese environmental music, and in terms of register, tone and mood, I'd happily sit this next to side of two of Brian Eno's Discreet Music. There's a brightness, a lightness even to the playing that breezes around your head with plucked and soft hammered strings throughout. Fill your living room with plants and put this on as the sun comes up and I'm telling you, you will ascend.
“kotonoha” is ironomi’s 8th album and first ever release on vinyl. A tonal portrait of microscopic nuances particular of a Japanese midsummer saunter through deep emerald green forests and tranquil fields, transcribed into a meditative pastoral reverie created with crystalline piano playing, lute acoustics and real-time processing.
The title “kotonoha” (琹の葉) comes from a poetic anachronistic metaphor, combining form of leaves (葉 ha) and plucked string instruments (琹 koto) depicted in classical antiquity. With a distinctive sound that matches the sonic architecture of Japanese aesthetics, ironomi adds “koto no ha” into their extensive catalog already defined by its uniquely committed minimalism and serenity.
“kotonoha” was originally built on a sequence of four continuous scenes that makes up one long-form composition. The titles of these improvisational pieces (shioribi, namisora, ayumikaze, hagoromo) invoke a literal kind of sensuous, fleeting phenomena. The beauty and charm of these tracks lie in their impressionist fusion with Japanese nature and sensibilities. ironomi’s pieces rarely build and despite their sparse acoustic density, they have a presence that cuts sweetly into the listener’s reality. ironomi created their very own brand of “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyo ongaku (環境音楽) - music designed to harmonise with, rather than dominate, its natural surroundings. In the specific spatial context of “kotonoha”, the record heals the aural sense away from our jangling cities and restless daily environments.
The album includes two additional compositions “tsukishirube” and “maigo”, the latter being regularly featured as the concluding passage that brings ironomi’s live performances to an end. The expanded cadence remained a firm fan-favourite since 2010 and now documented in recording for the first time.