Switched On – Chihei Hatakeyama & Dirk Serries: Black Frost (Glacial Movements)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This is the second collaboration on the Glacial Movements label between Chihei Hatakeyama and Dirk Serries, a follow-up of sorts to their album The Storm Of Silence in 2016. Like that release, Black Frost has four tracks and runs for just over 40 minutes, expanding their already widescreen approach of guitars and electronics.

Chihei Hatakeyama is a musician and sound artist currently living on the edge of Tokyo, and has many releases under his belt both as a solo artist and as part of the duo Opitope, with Tomoyoshi Date. Dirk Serries, meanwhile, is an experienced ambient artist based in Belgium who has built up an impressive CV of collaborations through work on an ongoing Microphonics series.

What’s the music like?

Simple – but that word should not be taken lightly. It is simple in the sense that the music is very simple to listen to. Each track largely hangs on a specific pitch, and no effort is required on the part of the listener to reach a meditative calm. In fact the less effort made, the more effective the ambience is. And yet, if the ear moves in for a closer take, the layers and subtle oscillations / variations reveal themselves, and the 40 minutes can be seen as a single unit, one gigantic four-part chord progression.

The textures are wonderfully airy and cool, polar in their chilled temperature but with a hazy warmth too. In terms of colour the music has sharper outlines and more piercing tones than the blue wisps of The Storm Of Silence – hence the dark overtones of the cover.

Those dark colours become more evident in third track Breen, which gives off an icy residue, but they don’t take root as such – and Frossen Luft closes out the quartet with more drawn-out pitches which eventually disappear into the middle distance.

Does it all work?

Yes. As anyone familiar with Glacial Movements releases will know, the ambience is of the deeply immersive kind, ideal for the end of a working day, the beginning of a new one, or an antidote to the fast and worrisome pace of life we are faced with from time to time.

Is it recommended?

For sure. Anyone enjoying previous music from this source will not need further encouragement, for Black Frost ends up as the ideal complement to The Storm Of Silence. It may be darker in countenance but it still ends up in the same, contemplative space.

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