Verdict = A gorgeous soundtrack to forgotten ponds
The last time we heard from Sawako around these parts was on last year’s astoundingly beautiful release under the Anticipate banner, Madoromi. Now after only a brief break Sawako is back, releasing her fourth album, Bitter Sweet, back on the equally wonderful 12K label (also the home of her debut). Despite the label shuffling, Sawako maintains an aural consistency that has moments of both gorgeous relaxation and intelligent tension. The album opens with borderline atonal droning on “Wind Shower Particle” that sounds somewhat metallic with a deeply buried percussive layer that eventually breaks with the emergence of some well placed acoustic notes that sound like a stand up bass played from the basement. The track segues into “April – From Sea Shell” where, with the assistance of Radiosonde, Sawako allows a gorgeous lilting guitar melody to float over the top of her signature field recordings and embedded ambience. The transitions in mood and flow between these two tracks are telling of the entire album which seems bent on a perfect restraint and paced structure that requires a patient ear from its listener. While the ADD among us may find difficulty focusing on these pieces of music, those who give Bitter Sweet an honest effort will be aptly rewarded. Sawako seems to have subtly enhanced her methods this time around as well. Where Madoromi had a bit of a more glitchy electronic component to it, Bitter Sweet seems a bit more polished and smooth. The addition of some more palpably identifiable instrumental motifs also adds to Sawako’s palette. Still, restraint is the key here and the motifs often fade out as quickly as they arrived leaving a powerful ripple throughout her songs. Bitter Sweet is an glowing release by an artist of greatly understated creativity and talent.
Sawako - April-From Sea Shell (w/ Radiosonde)