Our future will be urban, and it will be organic. As more of us move into dense urban spaces, we’ll seek to incorporate the natural world into our cities. Life seems more vivid when vines reach across weathered walls, where tree roots cover city infrastructure, and where urban gardens find a niche in urban sprawl.
Satoshi Ikeda and his project Edo Nagano, seems conjuring this reality on his album, Klimrim. Ikeda takes the listener from the busy sounds of an urban environment like Tokyo (his current city and namesake of “Edo” in his moniker), and finds tranquility in the natural world on the recording. His realization is an album that feels very much like a possible future — busy, anxious, and seeking tranquility in it all.
Klimrim’s opening tracks — “BLACK SUN” and “ORIAN” — are pulled directly from life in Tokyo. Deeply rhythmic, both feel like illustrations of people immersed in the routine of urban sprawl.
Where “Black Sun” entrances the listener with the feeling of the rhythmic pulsing of street lights on a night time commute, “ORIAN” sets the listener up for seduction. The song’s panflute hook calls attention away from the primal rhythms driving the track, beckoning the listener to take part in the sexiness of the city. It’s here that Ikeda’s urban soundscape feels most realized — there’s a sexiness to urban reality here. However, just like the end of “ORIAN,” there is also anxiety.
By the third track, “Outrage,” Ikeda feels like he’s fleeing the urban life in need of something more natural.
Juxtaposing the imagery of an island paradise in the name of the track “las Olas De Oro” (meaning “golden waves”) with a mythical Chinese animal in “Kylie” and the name of a thunder god in “Raijin,” Ikeda retreats from the busy-ness of the urban environment and connects with the natural and mystical worlds. The tracks in this part of the album seem to slow down. However, rhythm remains a present element, connecting the artist to the world around himself.
During my correspondence with Ikeda for this review, I discovered one of his influences is the band Tortoise. This part of the album feels like a Tortoise record. By channeling an influence like Tortoise, Klimrim isn’t a record that is hamstrung to genre. The music draws from influences ranging from underground hip-hop to ambient; however, the melodies remain simple and the beats are straightforward. There is a sneakiness to this approach. The record isn’t nearly as simple as it may seem.
There are thematic layers, too. There is spirituality. There is commentary. There is tranquility. This is what makes Klimrim so immersive. The listener has so much to interact with in terms of both musical style and subject matter.
The album ends with organic elements. “Flower,Bird,Wind and Moon,” “Day of the Shinano River,” and “Midnight Swimming Pool” use serenity and simplicity to envelop the listener in the tranquility of the natural world. Where earlier tracks set rhythm and melody against one another, these final tracks play harmoniously together.
The album’s greatest strength is its vibrancy. One will immediately notice its lack of vaporware-sounding affect, which tends to be the knee-jerk production choice of so many electronic musicians making accessible electronic music, in favor of rich-sounding production. Ikeda’s choice makes the record sound immediate, tangible, visionary.
Klimrim is a record for the future that we don’t know that we’re creating. Can we imagine a world without neon lights? Can we imagine a future where buildings don’t continue to rise out of the middle of dense urban centers? Can we even dare to imagine a future where bullet trains and highways don’t continue to cut through grain fields and mountain ranges? No.
At the same time, we must somehow, in some way, find tranquility within it. This record posits that we can find it.
Edo Nagano — “BLACK SUN”
Release link: https://edonagano.bandcamp.com/releases