(Solstice)

A surprise release from Asano, who wrote these scores for the Ensemble Deneb of Amsterdam (Ayumi Matsuda – recorder, Lucas van Helsdingen – oboe, Arwen Bouw – violin, Maria Sanchez Ramirez – cello, Ere Lievonen – harpsichord). These artists play the Japanese composer’s peculiar brand of Baroque music with enthusiasm and passionate drive, which render the few imperfections caught here and there an additional element of interest. Given also the large room reverb characterizing the recording, the music brims with adjacent overtones and strange light dissonances, the overall temperament of the album recalling a hybrid of Mikel Rouse Broken Consort, Arnold Dreyblatt and – get this – Mike Oldfield circa “Incantations”. The musicians look for new places to establish their like-minded illusionism, managing to capture a “Baroque essence” that sounds pretty modern nevertheless. But there’s actually more discovery than reminiscence in a little more of 40 minutes of enticing material, fathered by a prolific composer who – after an initial boom of attention by the media, probably due to his London residence at that time – has been a little (unjustly) overlooked in recent periods, although many of his releases contain ideas that are not similar to anyone else’s. And let’s not forget that Koji Asano is still only 33.

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