Kashiwa Daisuke
Program Music I


4.5
superb

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
December 30th, 2007 | 770 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With an album that blows World's End Girlfriend and all of his Japanese contemporaries out of the water, Kashiwa Daisuke produces the surprise album of the year

In the first few minutes of “Stella”, Kashiwa Daisuke uses the sounds of running water as a sample interlaced with his omnipresent piano and strings. He takes that sound, however, and breaks it up so that the running water no longer runs and instead limps. Music often flows like running water, and with this sample, Daisuke lays out his musical philosophy immediately, showing that he will take the most flowing, beautiful music and chop it up as he pleases. If Daisuke’s piano and strings represent a piece of glass, untouched and perfectly clear, then his samples and beats represent a huge sledgehammer with which he destroys the glass and laughs as the glass shatters and falls to the ground. His aim, so precise, causes the glass to fall into a perfect shape in its shattered form, much like Picasso’s cubist paintings or Dali’s melted clocks. Each piece of glass, its own unique shape, holds inside its own musical motif. Yet as the shapes of glass all fit together, so do the motifs. In this, Daisuke creates organized chaos of epic proportions, perhaps the most epic the electronic world has seen.

Program Music I only has two songs, but the album spans nearly an hour. Song, however, understates these works. Rhapsody seems more fitting. Even symphony might suffice. The attention to detail Daisuke puts into his music allows a cohesion that no “song” of its length could achieve. Not only do the songs feel at their correct length and maintain interest throughout, but also the two songs play off each other with similar ideas. Still, Daisuke employs his sounds in very contrasting ways. The songs feel connected yet their own entities, one of the most remarkable achievements of the album. For the most part, Daisuke uses strings, piano, and acoustic guitar as his melodic instruments, creating a core sound much like his Japanese contemporary World’s End Girlfriend. In fact, even their concept of integrating glitchy electronic drums into the sound is very much the same. Daisuke just composes his music with more finesse, adding more depth to not only his drums but also his melodic content. From this core sound, Program Music I burgeons into a work of art.

Of the two tracks, “Stella” is certainly the more conventional one despite its superior length. By stating musical themes, expanding on them, and maintaining a homophonic sound with melody and accompaniment, it stays relatively similar throughout. In “Stella”, the drums make the song’s climaxes with offbeat accents, retardations, and delays everywhere. Even when the drums stay conservative, it feels as if Daisuke is simply drawing back his sledgehammer for the big smash once again. Once the drums disappear, Daisuke moves into a completely different mood, especially mid-song. For a good five minutes, he builds an incredibly suspenseful crescendo. Through rubato minimalist piano and haunting ambient sounds, the song grows and recesses relentlessly. Once everything finally resolves, the off-kilter accents and sudden delays go away, and finally everything can breathe. After the final resolution, representing the song’s overall climax, it becomes apparent that the first 20 minutes of the song simply build to that climax of gorgeous string counterpoint, piano runs, and driving drums. What stuns most about “Stella” is not any specific moment, but the fact that Daisuke composed 36 minutes of self-aware music with obvious constant forward direction.

“Write Once, Run Melos” feels much more spastic. Once again, the first few minutes describe a musical philosophy, one of constantly changing feels. For the most part, Daisuke plays impeccable jazz piano and the drums accompany him, but the drummer may have run out of batteries. The drums constantly stop and get out of time. Only minutes later, however, a beautiful string chorale kicks in. In this song, Daisuke does not lay out such a large concept map for the listener to follow. Instead, he composes a song that feels more interesting minute by minute but less rewarding at its culmination. It relies on the shock value of each individual moment, and since he composes so well, it works. Even though the instrumentation is nearly exactly the same as “Stella”, the two contrast each other so much in their format. Daisuke makes use of off kilter accents, synthesizer effects, and ambient sound much more in the second song as well, so despite the similar instrumentation, he uses each instrument in a new way.

Program Music I is one of the most intrinsically well-composed electronica albums I’ve ever heard. While difficult to navigate at first, only through multiple listens will the album begin to register and stick with the listener. Undoubtedly, it will stun on first listen, but every time, something new projects from the music. Daisuke might just take his sledgehammer and knock down the walls of the genre completely, watch out.



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user ratings (615)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
Hogan CONTRIBUTOR (5)
Perfection....

Vrid (5)
Ett postmodernistiskt uttalande....

Eli EMERITUS (5)
A sprawling, yet meticulously crafted masterpiece....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Monticello
December 30th 2007


805 Comments


Sounds like ownage. I'm definitely getting it. Obviously, great review too.

Aficionado
December 30th 2007


1027 Comments


Really great review, I can get a perfect idea of what the music sounds like from this review and it seems really captivating. I especially enjoy the intro and how it ties in with the rest of the review.

plane
Staff Reviewer
December 31st 2007


6100 Comments


i quite liked hurtbreak wonderland so i'll check it out

oh pretty good review but maybe you should add four more paragraphs for each song to get a better feelThis Message Edited On 12.31.07

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
December 31st 2007


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

www.myspace.com/kashiwadaisuke has "trailers", they just give snippets of some of the sections of the songs. It gives a good idea of the bigger parts of each song.

Mahavidya
January 1st 2008


99 Comments


I'LL MAD CHECK THIS OUT SOUNDS LIKE OWNAGE IT PROBABLY IS THE BEST ALBUM OF THE YEARS

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
January 1st 2008


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

word

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
January 2nd 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fantastic album, terrific review.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
January 6th 2008


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If only this was whored out before all the 07 list making. Though Stella is very good, I really can't help but just be drawn into all the moments of Write Once, Run Melos. Especially the rapid jump into action at 15 minutes in, which blindsides you from out of nowhere.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
January 6th 2008


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As for the review, I quite liked it. Described the album nicely. I just don't like the description of Write Once, Run Melos when you say:
"Instead, he composes a song that feels more interesting minute by minute, but less rewarding at its culmination."

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
January 6th 2008


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You probably don't like it because there shouldn't be a comma there ugh.

natey
March 9th 2008


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is really nice.This Message Edited On 03.09.08

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
March 13th 2008


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

God this just keeps growing on me. On the way to uni I love just letting Stella develop. No matter where I am it is so easy to just let yourself slip into each song. On the train you sort of forget where you are and just drift.

I just wish there were more out there that had the same effect as this.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
March 13th 2008


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just kind of wish the vocals in Stella at about 28:30 were given more focus, drawn out and let free. Though it is hard to fault how Daisuke has crafted it.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
November 25th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Playing this right now. Only comes out every once in a while but ugh, such a masterpiece. Deserves so much more recognition.

Essence
January 21st 2009


3595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh my god this is so good

fireaboveicebelow
February 9th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is very fun to listen to

natey
February 9th 2009


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[QUOTE=Liberi Fatali]On the way to uni I love just letting Stella develop. No matter where I am it is so easy to just let yourself slip into each song. On the train you sort of forget where you are and just drift. [/QUOTE]
I know exactly what you mean.

astrel
April 1st 2009


2614 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This was phenomenal. I will probably bump this to a 5 soon enough.

Gyromania
June 21st 2009


16089 Comments


Thinking of bumping to a 5. More people need to hear this, not enough users know about this.

irishmanshibby
July 5th 2009


355 Comments


Ive had this for like 3 days, and cant rate it because I just keep replaying Stella its that good



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