Aguirre Records / Belgium / 2023
Union of Antwerp synthesist David Edren and Tokyo minimalist Hiroki Takahashi is a fit so natural as to feel preordained. Both traffic in subtle shades of contemplative electronics, marked by patience, space, and poetic restraint. And both have rich histories of curation and collaboration – Edren in the duo Spirit & Form alongside Bent Von Bent, and Takahashi as proprietor of the Kankyō record shop, as well as one fourth of cosmic ambient quartet UNKNOWN ME. Mutual fans of one another’s work, they began sharing stems in the latter half of 2020, which slowly blossomed into a collection of multi-hued compositions inspired by notions of connectivity and impermanence, translated for east and west: Flow | 流れ.
Opener “Dusk Decorum | 黄昏 礼節” maps the mood of what’s to come, elegantly pirouetting and percolating through an expanding vista of looming stars and half-light horizons. Takahashi describes Edren’s arrangements as evoking “a strange feel, something we haven't heard much of before.” The sensation is one of “in-betweenness,” a restless current whispering beneath the beauty, like seasons seen in time-lapse footage: flickering but infinite, transience turned permanent. Takahashi’s signature sculpture garden tones plot spiral patterns over which Edren cascades dazzling pointillist synthesizer coloration. The pieces veer between delicate and dilated, micro and macro, their aperture forever softly in flux.
From the oscillating orchestral lullaby of “Stalactime | 鍾乳石時計” to the sweeping, sparkling dream sequence closer, “Shift Register | シフトレジスタ,” the album achieves the elusive goal of being more than the sum of its parts. This is music of rare air, elevated and amorphous, shimmering just out of reach. Though Edren and Takahashi have yet to cohabitate the same room in person (a fact that should be rectified soon by an astute festival booker), their palettes and poise are perfectly paired, twin fragilities woven into seven radiant and regenerative vibrational states. The cover design of a beatific, beaded leaf rippling on the surface of a hidden pond aptly captures the record’s muted majesty. Takahashi’s quiet pride is justified: “We are very happy with this time-consuming and carefully crafted work.”