reviewed | Absence – Gargle and Bosques de mi Mente

It started with a request by post-rock Japanese duo, Gargle (Jun Minowa and Satosha Ikeda), to collaborate with Spanish contemporary classical composer, Bosques de mi Mente, on one song. An experience so satisfying it developed into a nine-track album collaboration. And what a completely collaborative array of work it is. Bosques De Mi Mente’s piano pieces are exquisite moments of peace, juxtaposed alongside stunningly modern ambient sounds mixed with (and by) Gargle’s guitar, accordion and the wonderful use of String players from Tokyo College of Music, conducted by Jun. The end-result is an album filled great symphonic and modern sound with a definite cinematic dimension. With no track under three minutes you’re really afforded the time to fully immerse yourself in each piece of beautifully-constructed composition. Granted I can’t in any way profess to be knowledgeable about any classical music (although I swear by John Murphy’s Adagio in D Minor and do have a study playlist filled with , let alone claim to be an expert on contemporary classical music, I can, however, articulate what I like about what I hear and there is a lot to like about Absence.

 The first track ‘Bell’ starts the album off, incidentally, with the tolling of a bell, followed by ambient tones and eventually joined by a lovely piano melody and rounded off with string instruments as provided by the Tokyo College of Music as conducted by Jun. When the strings come in, melding with the piano and ambient sounds to create a haunting but layered piece, you get a sense of what the rest of the album will entail. And yet when ‘Snow Storm’ begins with just the piano, the beginnings of an uncluttered simplistic sound. Yet it doesn’t grate in juxtaposition with the waves of the track before it, nor does it lose it’s simple beauty once the strings join in. In fact as the track slowly builds, you find that it gradually moves faster in tempo and feel and the simplicity morphs, changing as you would imagine a snowball would when rolling down a hill. ‘(The Triumph of the) Flight of the Last Bird on Earth’ with its chimes lead us into a strings-led multifaceted piece that proves at one point to surge up towards the middle of the track and comes to an almost complete standstill before the piano comes in. That small moment of tranquility while the piano piece plays is a lovely reprieve before the strings and enveloping sounds come back in to sweep us out.

‘A Sudden Lapse of Joy’ invokes a certain loneliness at the start beginning with a lovely piano piece before being joined by the accordion, ambient tones follow for a hollowed feeling that plays against the lilting piano sound and feverish accordion. In the middle there is a pause to allow for what seems like a scene of some sort, you can hear voices behind a tinkling sound which echoes into a haunting fade out, before the piano comes back and before long it is accompanied the strings. The piece ends in a very sombre piano come-down, aided with hollowing ambient tones leaving you feeling slightly bereft. ‘The Moment Our Glances Almost Met’ is a lovely romantic piece heavy in swelling strings before the piano and what sounds like an electric guitar comes in to end the piece.

A track that really seems to stick with me is ‘Echoes Of Our Memories’, which to me seems to be the most dynamic piece of the album. It isn’t just the voices of children playing that you hear throughout the entire piece, or even the haunting almost melancholic melody the piano provides in conjunction with the strings. It’s the way they blend together that really evokes a sense of nostalgia. ‘Life and Death of Spoken Word’ is another slow burner turned sweeping track with grand impressions in it’s symphonic reach. Leading us into the penultimate track ‘We are Running Out of Time’ that, in it’s more tranquil, stripped down approach leaves us with the opposite feeling until the end of the piece when what sounds like an electric instrument tolls in bell-like fashion. ‘When Light and Motion Collide’ brings us to the end of our journey, the final leg in an epic of sound and collaborations that ends in a similar way to how it began- with the ringing of bells, only this time it signals our exit.

It would appear that Absence has the ability to turn any grounded person into a transcedentalist. By the end of the album, you’re left in a state of  serenity that you need every once in a while. It’s current, in that it makes full use of equipment available in this day and age to evoke emotional responses, while also staying within the borders of classical sound through conventional apparattuses like the piano and string instruments. Modern, symphonic and utterfly cinematic, Absence will lull you into a tranquil state and bring a certain clarity of mind.

Grab yourself a copy from Fluttery Records. You won’t regret it.