Review Summary: Presenting the most overlooked album of 2014.
An emerging talent straight from Japan, 25 years young, Ichiko Aoba is more of a mysterious entity than an artist on the rise. Asides from a few collaborations, most notably with Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame, there is very little known about Ichiko Aoba – the person, as well as the artist. With very little implication of just how she came to be where she’s at now, as well as her musical inspirations, Aoba is a total and absolute mystery to me. All that’s really known about her and where her musical career began was just that she started playing classical guitar at the young age of 17 and that her debut “Razor Girl” was released when she was 19. Her music, however, reveals details about just where she got her inspiration and ideas from, such as the baroque music of the renaissance, the Spaniard folk music known as Flamenco, and classic folk musicians such as Tim Buckley.
Along with an eight year track record on the guitar, is also a voice that not only soars at one moment, but broods at another, and retains a soothing air of child-like innocence (most notably on 機械仕掛乃宇宙 – “Clockwork Universe”
) at the next without being grating or juvenile. 0%
documents Aoba live as she is, a solo performance with scarcely any accompaniment by others, as well in an environment that suits her style greatly. The absolute quiet and solemn atmosphere throughout her performance keeps the audience in total silence, allowing for Aoba’s intricate and complex compositions to take center stage amidst all the field recordings and spoken-word recitals (i.e. the introduction to opener Airplane
, the majority of the 22-minute epic いりぐちでぐち - “Entrance Exit”
) that populate the 90 minute setlist, consisting of material from her first four albums, as well as new material yet to be released. Every single tune on here is intimate, as if it is just Aoba and a small crowd in an abandoned warehouse somewhere neatly tucked in a secluded corner of Western Japan. Though I go on and on about how great this album is, 0%
takes some getting used to, it’s quite challenging for its genre with all the various methods of experimentation Aoba undertook in her live show. The language may also be a barrier for some, though the foreign language adds mystery to just what exactly Aoba is
singing, but with any other foreign language – to me – it adds an aura of beauty and mystique to the music and its subject.
While being a mystery to me, Ichiko Aoba’s 0%
is just one of those albums that once it clicks with you, you just won’t stop coming back to it. It’s nothing entirely game-changing, but there’s something about it that is refreshing and innovative in the way it captures a live show, and the atmosphere a live show such as Aoba’s carries. 0%
is definitely one of the most overlooked albums of 2014. Entitled as such, 0%
is hardly the amount of effort and passion put into the performance Ichiko Aoba gave.