Asuna: Organ Leaf

The changing of the seasons is a potent subject for musicians. Notions of cyclicality, decay and renewal lend themselves naturally to musical tropes such as warmth, coldness and repetition. It’s a challenge risen to with aplomb by Naoyuki Arashi, a young Japanese composer who lurks under the Asuna alias.

Asuna was apparently inspired to create the four pieces on Organ Leaf by the changing view from his window overlooking the hills outside Tokyo. As a result, the disc is a shapeshifting blend of sounds and textures, predominantly pastoral in mood. The titles indicate the time of year depicted by each track, along with imagistic hints at what was outside that window at the time. Thus, the opening “citrus trees, wheels paddle, azurite sea, July” is a light and sunny confection of organic synth washes, soft bass throb and liquid, bubbling drones. The piece’s carefully layered patterns and gentle propulsive motion work perfectly as an evocation of a warm summer’s day.

The second, much shorter track, “stray rabbit, morning fog, November,” adopts a slower, more wintry feel. Abstract metallic frequencies blur and melt into fuzzy, murky tones. This harsher mood is sustained at the outset of track three, “strawberry circuit, childhood, (sister, seasons, letter), October,” with its disorientating collage of voices and street noises. The piece modulates, however, into a beautifully extended reverie, with children’s voices and tinkling bells overlaying a silvery soundscape reminiscent of Tangerine Dream at their spaciest. Finally, Asuna depicts spring in “ten petals, small calm, May” as a time of fragile expectancy, suffused with softly chiming bells and floating, evanescent atmospheres.