Regular Price: $15.98
Online Sale Price! $5.00
The Flight of the Real Image
& James Johnson: Cube 7 - Sospensione D'Estate
and Amelia Cuni: APSARAS ~ SALE $5
Alio Die's ambient soundscapes with Chako's seductively layered ethereal vocals
MEI-JYU is an ethereal-ritual-ambient collaboration between Italian sound manipulator Stefano Musso (aka Alio Die) and the Japanese duo Chako and Makoto Hattori (Jack or Jive). On MEI-JYU, introspective ambient music by Musso joins with Chako’s ethereal-otherwordly vocals. Opening parallel dimensions and suppoting the dreamy quality of Chako’s voice, the music is derived from acoustic zither sounds, improvisations done on the waters of a brook, and environmental sounds of bells or radio. The atmospheres of the tracks vary, but the glowing quality between sounds and voice is decidedly original here. Growing up from the dark ambient sounds and loops, the music flows harmoniously.
The word “Meijyu” derives from the Zen practice. Meijyu resides in one’s palm and it is like a jewel, a precious stone, a clear crystal. Everyone has Meijyu inside. People look for shining objects in the outside world. If we focus on Meijyu with all our might, it will shine through us; Meijyu then teaches us that man can shine from the inside.
After nearly 15 solo albums a piece, an appreciation for each other's music formed a natural bond between these artists. On MEI-JYU, songs can be relaxing and melancholy, dark ambient, multi-dimensional, bucolic, ritual, minimalistic. The voice is always inspired and spontaneous; the quality of a sincere prayer opens to different rooms full of emotions. A child-like pure quality sometimes creates a sweet tension, but the unique voice can also be quite strong and lightly dramatic. The ritual approach to music by these artists creates something beautiful here, delicate and deep, magic landscapes for the soul.
This album shouldn't really be a surprise to avid ambient and ethereal fans. Those that follow either the Projekt releases or Prikosnovenie will be very familiar with both of these bands and their spectacular music. This album pulls the talents from all artists together into a special treat of nine mesmerizing tracks. The liner notes explain a little bit about Mei-jyu deriving from the Zen practice (the way of liberation through direct experience of the here and now). It is a thing of beauty and thus the music on this album shines through.
The nine-minute long title track stands as an introduction and mood setting piece for the album. The various ambient sounds that both bands contribute provide an otherworldly backdrop for Chako's dreamy vocals. As a fan of various new age, ambient and ethereal music, this tapestry that is created for this and other tracks is wonderful on its own. In fact there are two awesome instrumental ambient pieces in the form of "Slow Motion" and "Meijyu (Reprise)" that really bring out the strengths in the ambient and environmental sounds. Much like the new age "sounds of nature" or others that have become something of a fad, these artists have been providing this stellar style for years and it comes out perfect on these tracks.
While remaining a fan of the ambient and even instrumental pieces, it all becomes a hundred times more uplifting, captivating and mesmerizing when you throw Chako's unique vocals into the mix. Any one who has listened to a Jack or Jive album knows exactly what I'm talking about. Even if it means absolutely nothing to me, whether it's in Japanese or simply a humming or other layered vocals, her vocals are addicting beyond any cure. As I listen to simple tracks like "Fluff of a Dandelion" with various harmonic layered vocals drifting above the already described ambient layers, the music holds the listener entranced.
And so the music drifts on through each of these captivating pieces from "Make an Arc Through the Air" to "Village Enveloped in the Mist," there is just no easy way to describe the music and subsequent feeling present when you listen to it. This is an absolute stellar album and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys their music slow and entrancing. Rating: 5/5
The yosei, or Japanese elementals, are a crafty crowd. They live in disguise, as herons or cranes. They hide, in ponds, or trees, or dreams. They bewitch and beguile with their beauty. But ultimately, they are not of this world. I have my suspicions that Chako, the singer-songwriter of the Japanese duo, may partly trace her lineage to that elusive tribe. She has a siren's voice that soars and occasionally shrieks. She can be as delicate as brushstroke on rice paper, or fierce as a tsunami. She is both Yoko Ono and Faye Wong. Chako sings in her own language; the effect is like vocal calligraphy. She's Liz Fraser in a geisha's clothes.
The Italian sound-sculptor Alio Die (Stefano Musso) has created an aural garden for the Japanese duo. It's full of drones, birds, water and synthesizers and zithers imitating birds, water, and drones. It's music at its most amorphous. Chako responds to this floating ambience by layering her witch and angel voices. The result soothes, and sometimes disturbs.
Listen to this trance music in the dark. It will lead you to a tranquil garden. Like the best koans, it will never reveal its secret.
Alio Die and Jack or Jive’s first ambient pairing is a work designed to complement a form of Zen practice, one that teaches that man can shine from the inside outward. The album is named after MEI-JYU, an assumed Zen solidity like that of a jewel that sits in one’s palm. The concept is that everyone has MEI-JYU inside and if we focus hard enough, the light and form of it becomes visible from within. Ambience is a strong part of the flow and concentration and so it is no surprise that Alio Die and Jack or Jive, a Japanese duo, has mixed their talents to produce 70+ minutes of serenity via shaded paths while using a variety of techniques and instruments including environmental sounds.
Stylistically, much of MEI-JYU is “shoegazer gothic” in essence. Alio Die is accustomed to creating worlds in his ambient forays, many of which are dark. It is little surprise to find that Alio Die has chosen to push his talent to create a location for the soul to wander as it seeks to liberate itself in the here and now. Ambient music is serious work for the artist largely because he/she must create an auditory version of a landscape much like an author has to form words to describe or an artist mixes paint to form images. It is an art that goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.
This 9-track album is dark in a calming way but it must be realized that some people find their tranquility in shadows while others find their peace in complete light. Projekt’s ambient servings are often dark in nature, meant to disturb and to challenge. However, without stepping far from the centrality, Projekt’s embrace of this work shows yet another facet of dark ambience that is meant for soul-healthy ventures.
All of the 9 tracks are soft, inquisitive, and encapsulating like wind chime notes that float in the air and through our beings. Jack or Jive’s vocals, as sung by Chaka, act as directional beacons, providing a focal point for the listener/meditator while Alio Die’s sounds are the atmosphere and landscape; the being of the world. Every tune is blended with each other to avoid a sudden shock and to maintain flow and absorption. Some of the music is evenly repetitious to blend with your natural rhythm. Drones appear quite often to provide the shadowing of the tune.
Overall, MEI-JYU is effective in providing a sheltered soundscape where people might “lose” themselves in a meditative state. And while much of dark ambient textures are designed to be meditative in nature regardless of how unsettling a piece may be, MEI-JYU’s gentle approach supports a more rhythmic and immersive experience without the need to craft antagonism. Rating - 3 1/2 stars out of 5. - Matt Rowe