Title: Japanese Rivers
Released: March 2013
Artist Country: Argentina
Label: fuga discos
The immediate thing I noticed when I started listening to Japanese Rivers is that the instrumentation doesn’t sound very Japanese. Personally, I think of the Fue (Japanese flutes), Shoko, and Koto and numerous other percussion and stringed instruments, when I think of Japanese music instruments.
Of course, that is my predilection for classical or traditional Japanese instruments. But there is a wider range of Japanese music, especially with J-Pop and other musical forms. This recording immediately put itself in a more modern context than traditional context. But, it still maintains a slight connection to the traditional through some of the rhythms, melody and harmony lines used in the pieces. While not specifically traditional, the influence of traditional styles can be heard in this collection of four, water inspired, ambient pieces.
Each piece takes on a different form and texture, suggestive of the bodies of water they are named for. They have their different feelings, different environments, and yet all flow from one into another without leaving the listener hanging or looking for a connection. From the shimmering opening of Japanese Rivers through the rhythmic pulsing of Water Flow this recording is soothing and engaging. You are transported along the mythical waters in the soundscapes as if you were floating down river: parts of the ride are smooth, and some bob and weave their way towards the rides end.
Hopefully, this isn’t a one-off for Vlisa (aka Ramiro de la Cruz Larrain). Japanese Rivers is a strong statement that leaves you wanting more. Wishing there was another release that you could put on and listen to more. (Note: it does appear there have been two previous electronic / CD releases by Vlisa, according to Discogs and can be found on Bandcamp. On the other hand, more releases under a CC license instead of just as “freemusic” would be excellent.)