I’m a big fan of sound artist and steel pan player Yoshio Machida and his Amorfon record label / hair salon based in Yokohama. One wonders whether patrons of the latter listen to releases of the former during their cuts and treatments…? The sun kissed twirls of pings, gongs, thuds and klangs of previous Machida and Amorfon releases would make a great accompaniment to lazing in a barber’s chair, having your head massaged. Agapanthas by Machida with drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto as Ohnami wouldn’t be too bad either, but with it’s added percussive heft is perhaps better suited to head shaves and blow dries.
Machida has broadened his palette to compliment Yamamoto’s various percussion instruments, adding toy piano, analog synth and electronic pans, but his spacious, limber, oddly melodic approach remains, and pleasingly dominates the album. Pieces like ‘Oiran Parade’ and ‘Honey Pie’ are classic Machida, short, kooky melodic fragments, repeated sporadically over spacious backdrops, drifting casually by like incense. Yamamoto’s rhythmic additions are pitched more as subtle shadings, shadowing Machida more often than laying down original groundwork. Opener ‘A Nebulous Vase’ is an exception, the longest track at 10 minutes, and nodding more to prime Chicago post-rock: the drums a driving and complex force, Machida – presumably – responsible for the prominent synthetic bass tones. Like Amorfon releases, the packaging and artwork is beautiful, and well suited to the bright and seductive tones captured within.