|Record Label: LEYLINE-RECORDS|
|Catalog No.: N/A|
|Release Date: January 30, 2020|
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2020 has been a solid year for electronic music producer Mitsuto Suzuki. In addition to his contributions to the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake soundtrack, Suzuki-san has put out not one, but two collaborative albums, all in less than half a year’s time.
We’ve covered overkill already, which showcased Suzuki-san’s creative breadth and featured vocalist non in a variety of fun contexts. Now let’s turn our attention to a second MItsuto Suzuki project: Ambient Works, attributed to yuLa.
If overkill catered to fans of Suzuki-san’s solo projects (Neurovision, In My Own Backyard), then Ambient Works will appeal to those who discovered Suzuki-san through the second and third installments of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and The 3rd Birthday. His musical staples from those projects are all present: ethereal synthesis, moody harmony, and above all else, wicked melodic exploration courtesy of Aska Kaneko’s plentiful electric violin solos. “Less Than Clear” makes this perfectly clear from the get-go, ironically enough, as it encases a voluminous sonic space in the span of six minute track; and with the exception of “Java” (which clicks, chirps, and taps with the kind of spirited rhythm found in Suzuki-san’s solo albums), “Less Than Clear” sets an apt expectation for how the remainder of the album will play out.
In fact, almost every Ambient Works track operates on the same principle, exploring different ways of creating unique and subtle undercurrents for wailing electric violin solos. “The Ocean Depth”, for example, has a deep, bubbly character to it, while “The Spheres” marks the passage of time with computerized clicks and clock ticks. “Wet Jungle” continuously sprinkles pizzicato over a layer of mysterious pads, while “Indefinite Articles” employs glassy timbres in lulling patterns. There are exceptions to the rule: namely “Beyond the End”, an unaccompanied electric violin solo with elongated phrases and expressive range.
In each case, Ambient Works makes good on its titular promise, aiming to soothe rather than stimulate. Surprises do occasionally crop up: traces of a danceable beat may emerge now and then, and spoken word and choral elements are woven into the fabric of “Reflected Heat” and “The Flower’s Secret” respectively. Even the steady nine-minute spacial odyssey “Yulama” concludes the album with a faint accelerating chime, like an alarm tone calling any previously induced meditations to a close. But Ambient Works is primarily meditative. It won’t always demand the listener’s attention, but it will sustain their immersion. Only “Wet Jungle’s” comparatively abrupt fadeout (hitting just as the track seems to reach its apex) risks breaking that immersion, and even then only for a moment.
Where mojera’s overkill boasted tracks of varying energy, yuLa’s Ambient Works packs tracks of varying calm. Both brim with Mitsuto Suzuki’s compositional style, but getting to hear Suzuki-san’s murkier, atmospheric works outside of the game soundtrack space feels special and rare. For that, Ambient Works is a welcomed addition to Suzuki-san’s discography – one that will no doubt relax listeners and at times subvert their expectations.
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Posted on May 26, 2020 by Reilly Farrell. Last modified on May 26, 2020.