archiv: Nagisa Ni Te

archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2002/3 ….


There’s a tantalising moment midway through ‘The Same as a Flower’, Nagisa Ni Te’s (translated as ‘On the Beach’) third full length for the ever-reliable Jagjaguwar label. Momentarily the duo become earthbound and the shyly veiled beauty hinted at softly on the tracks preceding drops its guard as though like the clouds parting to reveal the sun, the melodies twinkle in all their swooning resplendent colours and lulling definition. The track in question is ‘Wife’, aside being the only instrumental it’s the point where Shibayama’s drifting pop mentality connects and focuses itself to perfectly capture the sweetly soft transcendental elegance of George Harrison’s Indian inspiration while flashing it out superbly with the detached splendour of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’, all the time at the heart of the composition the captivating swirl of Oriental tablatures croon throughout as though curious takes on vacation to the South Pacific. The same trick is deployed on the enchanting centrepiece ‘Bramble’, a slow burning epic of quiet dimensions that for the greater part of its duration you silently long to catch alight all the time transfixed and held spellbound in its repetitive sleepy glare ultimately being rewarded just when you least expect it by the caressing out of your slumber provided by the melting sounds of seductive string orchestrations.

If anything it is this that makes ‘The Same as a Flower’ so deceptively elegiac that descriptive words are literally rendered redundant. Don’t expect for a second for this hopelessly wonderful nine-track album to come rushing in to fall into your arms. It takes time, takes nurturing and a great deal of patience. Be prepared its not a difficult listening experience, far from it, rather more a release that needs space to breathe and time to soak before it unfurls its slowly curdling charm.

Nagisa Ni Te are Osaka based duo Shinji Shibayama (Org label founder, Idiot O’Clock, Hallelujahs) and his partner Masako Takeda and though you could easily file their sound under mellow we prefer to describe it as coming from somewhere else. A place where the rarest of pop moments find themselves navigating. Somewhere unclassified almost fabled, yet special, secretive and inexplicably poised on the outer reaches of the softer realms of the psychedelic spectrum. If anything Shibayama / Takeda’s nearest soul mates are Ghost, their sound speaks in that same unworldly spirit like language, fragile, nimble and almost invisible. Within ‘The Same as a Flower’ there’s a loose and uncomplicated touch of sensuality that courses throughout, a quiet shy romance to be found drifting in the airless environs it seeks to dwell, you can’t help but feel attracted to its almost simplistic and sensitive aura no more so is this apparent than on the mantra like ‘River’ and the unerring tranquillity of the moving title track which opens the album or the irresistible Low like haunting hymnal lullaby trickery found tip toeing amid ‘A Light’.

In ‘The Same as a Flower’, Shibayama and Takeda have produced quite possibly one of the most quietly arresting moments of spectrally charged day dreaming pop this year

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