7FO - Music for Himitsu (Métron Records, 2022)
Originally conceived for a 2014 exhibition hosted by the Himitsu collective, 7FO's 'Music for Himitsu' gets the full vinyl treatment, and its an absolute stunner, with broad reaching peaks and sounds illuminating the world around the listener with their considered, ethereal beauty.
Motifs are often the elements found within a musician's discography that stick long in the memory when shifting from one release to the next, and it is from these moments where adoration is found and a lasting affection is forged, meaning that when every new release finds its way into the world we are always on the cusp of anticipation. 7FO, a music maker from Osaka, Japan, has found a way to make the motifs which permeate through his work always feel familiar, but there is a duality where the anchors are accompanied by tonal abstractions and environmental brush strokes which simply take the breath away. 7FO's music in many ways is 'lively' ambient music, drawing much from the fields of New Age and Japanese Environmental Music and putting a twist on proceedings that feels deeply evoking, spiritual and vitality inducing, as all manner of inter-flowing instrumentation means that the listener is always allowed to drift within the layers, the cusp of audial euphoria never far away. The quiet intensity that overflows from his work is profound in its offered experience, powerfully reaching out across the plains and physically and meta physically filling in the grooves and terrains that we find all around us. Its a series of worlds that break down barriers, conceiving spaces that do away with conventionalism as they look to find new ways of expressionism. That is perhaps the boldest ability which 7FO pocesses, an ability to consistently explore new facets to his sound, a myriad of out reaching feelings that never fail to impress or mesmerise with their tangible beauty. Some of his previous works to check out include the deeply impressive 'Water Falls Into A Blank' (2017), the immensely chilled out '竜のぬけがら = Ryu No Nukegara' (2018), the ever expanding 'Moment (Selected Works 2012-2017)' (2018), and our personal favourite, the quietly bombastic and intrinsically thought provoking '蘭 - 茫天 = Ran-Bouten' (2021), which in many ways feels like his absolute vision coming together so impressively on record. If you enjoy electronic music as a conceptual and mind expanding medium, then 7FO is the musician for you, with his music working in duality to keep things ticking over whilst at the same time providing feels of the highest order, and we are all for it.
This all brings us nicely on to his latest effort, 'Music for Himitsu', with the music being originally recorded for a Himitsu exhibition back in 2014. Himitsu consists of ceramicist Shiori Nishino, photographer Hiroshi Nakamura and landscape gardener Takashi Torigoe, the collective showcased in the show a mergence of light, water and earth, as they explored the locale of beauty where 'harmony and discord exist'. Realising that some kind of audial accompaniment would help with the overall level of immersion, they enlisted the help of 7FO to come up with a soundtrack to be played out as visitors moved through the exhibition. The result of this is a highly reflective piece of music, originally conceived as one long segment which has been split up into 8 parts for the purposes of this release, with 7FO's signature swells, cascades and structural development all present and correct. The music feels like a dream, dipping the listener within a world where the physical and the imagined are channelled through a prism side by side, with the music doing much to place us within the context in which the music was originally inspired by. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this wondrous slice of heaven, a scape which will have you on the edge of your seat in the most inspiring ways possible.....
Up first comes 'Part One', and this begins with a splutter and electronic squelches to get things going, and we are all for it. The sequence is left to set the scene before aquatic bass like tones move into the picture from underneath, with this evolving into wobs which add to the pulsating melange. Having left us on the edge of our seat for the appropriate amount of time, the melody kicks into overdrive, taking the form of a looping upward cresendo that provides a great deal of contrast to the organic scattering that proceeded it, and within this repeating excellence we find our inner peace and spatial understanding. 7FO has beautifully guided us to this place, a place which extends beyond and provides us with a great deal of feeling and acceptance, both with ourselves and with the music being played all around us, as further textures are added into the mix alongside a gong that keeps time along with fluctuations in the keys which are simply a delight. The stanzas provide an enormity of subtlety which keeps things ticking over, with everything slipping away to give space to the breath around the 6:30 mark, which in many ways speaks for all of us as we come back down to planet earth. A beautiful way to get things going. Up next comes 'Part Two', and this one begins as Part One left off, with a sea of keys and humming fizzing textures and percussion. Everything has an incredible evolving energy to it, a solid yet endlessly moving state of being which provides the basis for the exquisite guitar line to come into view, which holds the top end of the track with passion and meaning. The two forms interact with one another in their own language, but it is one we understand both in its physical form and in its spiritual being also, and as such as float along. The underneath moves away to provide focus on the guitar sequence, with plenty of space being provided here to allow for us to dip within its intricacies, and s this time passes we are greeted with further melodics which carry us over into the next phase. Glorious stuff.
'Part Three' lands next, and this morphs the waveforms ever so slightly to provide a sense of sonic dynamism. The sequence is choppy and charismatic, acting very much as a bigger total than its part, as aquatic sounds emerge from underneath to provide a sense of depth and scale. The initial melodicness gives way quite quickly to leave us with the layers upon layers of texture, with plenty of thought given to how the elements move from side to side, and it is from within this deep set sea that the guitar emerges from again. Acting upon a number of levels, the duality of the notes being played creates a chime through the middle of proceedings that is hard to not fall in love with immediately, and its a sequence for us that feels like it could go on and on for time infinitum. The textures then shift away to leave us with just the guitar, and its glorious to experience on its own, as we continue to drift through an impeccably balanced and thoughtful space, one which gives over so much and will continue to do so on repeat listens. 'Part Four' follows next, and this one shifts things into the hums to get things going. The glade which emerges is highly ethereal, its tone moving the perceptions of time and space as minor key changes do much to keep the mind ticking over. The hums keep on going strong, fortifying their position within the mid section as the listener is guided up and above, floating atop the notes as the haze thickens and grows with each passing moment. Then all of a sudden the hum disappears to reveal the lightest of drumming patterns, with samples of children running about providing a human touch, with the track then moving position yet again to reveal a beautiful, simmering key line. This has a emotive, almost nostalgic notion to it, a mirror into the past but a summing up of the brilliance of the present, and it is this line we are left with as we drift through into the outro, and its something to behold.
'Part Five' is up next, and this one begins with the playing with water sounds to get things going. The initial sample gives way to a vibrant melodic palette, one where the shift between two chordal lines is handled superbly and with plenty of textural quality thrown in to boot, with the metallic sweeps that come in as the switches occur particularly effective at adding flavour into the mix. The blends are allowed to roll onwards and upwards, their presence always defying expectations as the minor blemishes allow for maximum engagement with everything being conveyed to us. 'Part Six' comes next, and this one begins with the bounces and lightly reverbing note. The track might be short but it has a hefty amount of dynamism to it, its presence filling up the space to no end as the parameters feel so transparent, eager and willing to be expanded further and to a greater degree. The track builds and builds in momentum, with the climax leading directly into 'Part Seven', which sees all these sequences truly come into their own. The cascades and shifts in texture are a joy to behold, their quietly undulating nature giving over so much to the listener as we meander down through the layers, our eyes always provided with something significant to witness. The track is happy to continue on with this journey, a transfixing ambiance that draws focus to the chord progression that begins up high before transcending down from the heavens to this mortal plain, its artful expression one of a quiet yet powerful octane. There's much to say in just standing back and enjoying its continual swirl, but you feel compelled to dip your head within it and just breath, taking in all that is on offer as the notes continue to slide on by. The track breaks down into silence for the final few moments, a rare moment of reflection within this gorgeous series of melodies, and this sets up things very nicely indeed for 'Part Eight'. 'Eight' opens immediately with the rising key sequence, with pads accompanying them in the backdrop, as both elements are keen to showcase one final time the warmth and technical expressionism that is so prevalent on this record. The segment is allowed to go onwards, again and again, with slight variations in the placement of notes providing variations which we have become very familiar with, but often find it hard to put our finger on how they will pop up. And like that, everything drops, and we are left to ponder on everything that has come before, but there is still time for the sounds which began at the start, referencing the loop in which this record was originally performed as during the exhibition, and when showcased here it provides the perfect ender - a closed loop for a piece of wax, and it leaves you feeling like you want to dive right back in and experience it all one final time. A compelling experience, if we ever heard one.
Electronic music is powerful, it is a force of nature, it is ever flowing and ever shifting, a perspective that can take your breath away when left in the right hands. 7FO is capable of all these things, his music a transportable tool which takes the listener into a series of meaningful worlds that capture the imagination and keeps everything on its toes. His previous works speak to this deep connection he has between his music and the universe it creates, and with this album there is the dual aspect of art and instrumentals to get involved within. The feedback loop that starts and ends makes you want to engage with the music over and over again, exploring the imagined rooms that were created for the exhibition and placing ourselves within the intersects that persisted between music, light and landscape. Its powerful stuff, and serves as a reminder of 7FO's abilities, and we for one cannot wait to see what he brings to us next.
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