'Scale Compositions', the latest release by Chihei Hatakeyama and Naoyuki Arashi (AKA Asuna), as well as being Hatakeyama's first release on Japan-based label Home Normal in two years, is a record that encapsulates that perfect model of an ambient composition; perfectly timed sonic nuances gliding through layers of gently throbbing drones, surrounded by far-away glitches and beeps, resulting in a thoroughly hypnotic and immersive listen. Whilst this level of drone excellence is to be expected from the pair - Chihei being one half of electroacoustic duo Opitope and Arashi creating organ-based sound installations alongside his numerous releases on the likes of Lucky Kitchen and Power Shovel Audio - 'Scale Compositions' is a release that can be listened to over and over again without then finding entire layers of sound that one might have missed on a previous listen.
Comprising of only two tracks, ʻScale Compositionsʼ is forty minutes of processed ambience that comprises of stretched and processed recordings of acoustic instruments, giving the release an organic air that only adds to the immediate sonic intimacy of the album. The level of musicianship present from both Hatakeyama and Arashi cannot be understated - whilst album opener 'Crown Scales' was recorded in a house in Nishiogikubo, 'Folk Scales' was in fact recorded three days later live at the SuperDeluxe venue, yet the composition is still a perfectly formed whole comparable to 'Crown Scales' in all respects, having traded none of its harmonic or atmospheric brilliance for spontaneity, as so often is the case situations of ʻlive recordingʼ.
Overall, 'Scale Compositions' is a record that completely absorbs one into itself for forty minutes, and, although it doesn't show the sonic variety of recent long-play releases such as Kyle Bobby Dunn's goliath 'Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn', it makes up for it in pure, unfettered beauty.
Review by Max Hampshire