Title: Shards of Memory
Artist: Leggysald
Genre: Electronica
Catalog Number: ALTM-021
Released: December 3rd, 2011
Label: Altema Records
License: CC BY-NC

I tend to stick with recent releases when writing reviews, however this is a release that has jumped out at me and grabbed a special place in my collection.  It has found its way back into my player more times than many of the other releases that I have reviewed recently.  Which is something of a surprise given how I came to acquire this release in the first place.

As is hopefully somewhat obvious to regular readers of my reviews, I have something of a passion for electronic music.  But I have typically not gone out looking for Japanese Creative Commons releases.  Like many Americans, I lack some knowledge of the big picture when it comes to the Creative Commons, and music around the world.  Certainly, I try to keep my ears open to anything that I can find (the Negritage review is an example of finding release from a location I never expected to find it).

So, I felt it was an interesting challenge to find Japanese netlabels when one of the listeners of CerebralMix was trying to find Creative Commons J-Pop releases one evening. ¬†So, I dug around my collection, came up with a few Japanese artists that had been released on Jamendo and a few other netlabels, but they weren’t particular J-Pop, nor did I come up with any Japanese netlabels. ¬†So, a little more digging around on the ‘net and I came up with a list of Japanese netlabels that someone had compiled. ¬†It was a bit old, but as I started going through it, I found that many of the sites were still up and running. ¬†Well worth the time to investigate.

So, this release came from that search.

And this release keeps finding its way to my ears. ¬†What grabbed my ears fairly quickly about it was that I could hear a relationship between it and Candlegravity’s Junpei release, as well as a stylistic resemblance / reference to Steve Reich’s¬†Electric Counterpoint with the guitar parts recorded by the magnificent Pat Metheny.

One of the reasons I think I haven’t paid as much attention of Japanese electronic music (especially within the last 5-10 years) has been something that is an interesting counter point to the Steve Reich piece. ¬†See, when Reich and Metheny worked on¬†Electric Counterpoint there was a bit of work that had to be done to make the guitar parts idiomatic to make them “easy” to perform (well, as easy as a guitar master like Pat Metheny needs them to be arranged).

Much of the Japanese electronica I have heard seems to throw out the concept of being idiomatic. ¬†I think the logic is that this is electronically manipulated music, so why keep up the pretense of these being the actual instruments. ¬†That isn’t a concept that I disagree with, however, I think it can be done well and it can be done wrong or in a manner that cuts against the listeners perception.

Leggysalad is no exception to the suspension of idiomatic arrangement concept I have heard in Japanese electronic music. ¬†Just take the drums on¬†Entrance or the vocals on¬†Eve of the Festival as examples. ¬†However, in this case, it’s not something that is distracting from the overall works. ¬†By starting out with very clipped / fragmented guitar lines (which is something of an auditory representation of the “shards” in the title of this release) I immediately had already suspended some level of expectations in terms of the musical arrangements that I didn’t find the non-idiomatic arrangements distracting.

The other thing I tend to dislike in Japanese electronic music is the use of sampled and chopped up vocals. ¬†There is something to the vocal qualities of most of these styles that I just don’t have a preference for. ¬†However,¬†Shards of Memory is one of the few releases that I can say that I didn’t mind the vocal styles. ¬†Perhaps because it wasn’t until the last two tracks that it introduces vocals into the songs, by which point I was already enchanted with the overall music I was listening to.

And, in fact, over time this release has really grown on me. ¬†As I’ve stated I find this release working its way back into my player on a frequent basis: perhaps once or twice a week. ¬†Every time I listen to it, I really enjoy it. ¬†The only wish I have is¬†this was a longer release. ¬†At just under 17 minutes, I find myself listening to it two or three times, and then putting it away for a few days or a week. ¬†If it were longer, it might find its way into my player more frequently.

Leggysalad: Shards of Memory




Posted by George De Bruin