- "There's no question that our age—in which we are inundated with sound—is unprecedented in history." In 1982, Satoshi Ashikawa included this cautionary note in the liner notes for the original version of the late Hiroshi Yoshimura's Music For Nine Post Cards, urging listeners to mind the effects of their sonic environments as assiduously as they would "architecture, interior design, food, or the air we breathe." 35 years later, Music For Nine Post Cards is the antidote to our buzzing phones and a brutal 24-hour news cycle, a reminder to slow down and take in the quiet profundity of life.
Yoshimura started work on Music For Nine Post Cards in an unassuming manner. He stared out the window and played the piano, attempting to mirror what he saw in short, one-measure phrases. While at work on this project, he visited the Hara Museum Of Contemporary Art, in the Shinagawa ward of Tokyo. Inspired by the clean, white minimalism of the museum's architecture as well as the trees that rustled in the courtyard, he envisaged the nine pieces as environmental music for Hara, an offer its administrators accepted. It was only after visitors frequently asked how to acquire the music playing throughout the grounds that Ashikawa and Yoshimura launched a record label, Sound Process, to release it.
In so doing, Yoshimura removed this music from its intended environment, but the nine pieces would bring an atmosphere of quiet grace to any setting. The static beauty of Yoshimura's nine pieces, which revolve around simple Fender Rhodes figures, have the ability to bring a sense of comfort into the hustle-and-bustle of a morning commute or a long flight (as Huerco S noted in interviews surrounding his 2016 Yoshimura-indebted ambient LP, For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)). But a sense of place remains central to Music For Nine Post Cards. On "Urban Snow," Yoshimura quietly intones: "Snow... this is Tokyo."
The music on Music For Nine Post Cards and its natural follow-up, Pier & Loft, isn't without precedent. The interplay between minimalist synths and electric piano echoes that of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno on Evening Star (though a more exact sonic comparison might be the latter's 1985 LP, Thursday Afternoon). The second half of Music For Nine Postcard captures the well-balanced melancholy of Erik Satie and his friend Claude Debussy. Yoshimura made the record, his first solo album, in his early 40s, and we feel this weight of experience, as well as a lack of the assertive qualities of youth that dissipate with age and wisdom.
There's an interesting contradiction in the current presentation of this music by Empire Of Signs, a label run by two Portland musicians, Maxwell August Croy and Visible Cloaks' Spencer Doran, who revel in the inundation of sounds Ashikawa warned against. But there's a generosity of spirit that comes through on this reissue (as well as Chee Shimizu's presentation of Pier & Loft). This isn't a mere collector curio—Music For Nine Post Cards is timeless music with the ability to enrich lives and environments.
01. Water Copy
04. Dance PM
05. Ice Copy
06. Soto Wa Ame - Rain Out Of Window
07. View From My Window
08. Urban Show