On his debut album Japanese ambient, musique concrete artist Shuta Hasunuma creates atmospheres of quiet beauty, melancholy, and substance. It?s a mean feat for an artist off the radar to create a debut album that presents a singular voice, but Hasunuma seems up to the challenge. With a mixture of field recordings, processed guitar, and haunting electronics he manages to find a very comfortable niche between the experiments of Fennesz and Hatakeyama.
The biggest problem faced by modern ambient artists is in creating beautiful, sparse tracks that still engage the listener. Hasunuma?s interspersal of sound recordings function as elements of melody and rhythm within these pieces themselves. Snippets of unintelligible conversation, footsteps, and ambient noise organically mingle with other elements of these songs rather than functioning as a backdrop or juxtaposition.
As stated before Hasunuma bears some resemblance to some of Christian Fennesz?s more recent melodic pieces, most noticeably in his use of quick cuts of processed electric and acoustic guitar. While not quite reaching the cinematic and epic nature of Fennesz?s masterpiece ?Venice? Hasunuma is able to avoid being labeled a B-level ambient guitar artist with little touches of singularity, such as the subtle insistent drone of a sitar on the electronic folk track ?Hammock,? and the chopped kiddie marching-band playfulness of ?Long Road Home.?
In a year saturated with, frankly, amazing ambient records by Marsen Jules, Tim Hecker, and Keith Fullerton Whitman, Hasunuma runs the risk of getting overlooked. However, fans of ambient music that manages to challenge and deliver melodically will not be disappointed. Recommended. 8/10 -- Jamie Townsend (11 December, 2006)