»It makes me nostalgic for times I never experienced«, reads a brief rateyourmusic review of NAKASHIMA Motohiro’s latest digital EP. I couldn’t have put it better. I stumbled upon Nakashima in 2009, when I was searching the blogosphere for Japanese music, Ambient music in particular. We Hum On The Way Home‘s cover artwork in combination with its dreamy title instantly caught my eye and I downloaded the record. Turns out, it wasn’t really an Ambient record. Neither was it truly of piece Electronica or Folk, like the blog post’s tags suggested. It was far more than that. In fact, it was pretty much all of that. At the same time.
Nakashima’s style is an amalgam of different genres that sounded both familiar and new to me at the time. Familiar because he draws on a lot of Western traditions: So called »(Neo-)Classical« piano music, (Minimal) Folk, smooth Bar Jazz (he was actually a resident at a café in Osaka in 2003), Downbeat and Ambient with the occasional field recording thrown in for good measure. But the way he combined all those influences seemed utterly refreshing to my ears. Which of course doesn’t mean it’s as proggy like Mouse On The Keys or as erratic as ミドリ.
No, this music is so modest that it almost vanishes in the background. The perfect soundtrack to fall asleep to – sleeping and dreams are actually reoccuring themes in Nakashima’s music – or sit inside drinking a cup of tea while it’s raining outside. It can be melancholic, but most of the time it’s just sweet and soothing. Escapist, even.
Of course that also means that Nakashima’s music borders on kitsch and I could perfectly understand it if you dismissed it for that. But I’ve grown very fond of it in the past five years and keep coming back to it, especially to We Hum On The Way Home. Even after I found out that he isn’t as unique as I thought he was, he remains my favourite out of those Japanese musicians – among them KIDO Takahiro, NAKAMURA Haruka and KOSEMURA Akira – whose music sounds similar.
Nakashima has released three studio albums on CD in Japan, but has recently uploaded new and old material to his Bandcamp account. You should pay him a visit!