Review Summary: Taking the veil
Identity in music is an important part of an artist’s image. It can sell the concept of what they’re about, who they are, and what they wish to achieve with their work. In most cases, musicians usually opt for a portrait to grace their album covers. Ichiko Aoba, however, seems reclusive in comparison. Previous efforts all featured either art, pictures or simplistic colored covers instead of her portrait. From the looks of it, it came across as if Aoba wasn’t one to bare her identity to a large audience unless she was performing. Yet, with her most recent endeavor, Mahoroboshiya
, we find Aoba evolving not only as an artist, but as a composer and perhaps as a performer as well. The cover gives puts forth an idea that Aoba has grown more confident in her abilities as an artist, although her obscured face hiding in the darkness shows that she isn’t quite there yet. A near-combination of “illusion” (Maboroshi) and “destruction” (Horoboshi), Mahoroboshiya is Ichiko Aoba’s destruction of her previous sound. With such albums like 0
, Aoba created an illusion that put her music across as being very sparse and atmospheric. Yet these albums were complete with incredibly complex guitar work that consistently improved with each album she did. To approach Mahoroboshiya
, one must discard any expectations of it sounding like any of her past works, though it’s not to say she has abandoned the ethos of what made her music so intriguing and challenging.
In the introductory prelude, ”The End”
, Aoba immediately showcases a firm confidence in her vocal ability, and it’s here that it’s evident that the production value of Mahoroboshiya
is at a higher standard than that of other albums, with the presence of double tracked vocals and reverberation. I know it’s not much, but for someone whose music has been incredibly bare and intimate, it comes as a surprise to hear studio effects of any
kind on Aoba’s works. With ”Yusagi”
, Aoba immediately retreats back into a comfortably familiar sound that is the closest she comes to her past material, yet the production adds to the intimacy of the compositions, allowing them room to breathe and creating an relaxed, ethereal vibe that is consistent throughout the thirty-five minutes of Mahoroboshiya
. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the triad of what is the starkest contrast to the work Aoba has committed to tape; with the jaunty ”Taiyou-san”
, the bleak piano instrumental ”Kounotori”
and the heavenly choral standout ”Kami-sama no Takurami”
providing an idea to what direction Aoba could head toward in the future. As with her other works, attention to detail plays an important role in her compositions and serve to add to the mood of her music, yet also aims to challenge listeners with its classically-influenced songwriting. Whereas on 0
it showcased Aoba performing her most complex songs yet, Mahoroboshiya
is almost seemingly accessible in comparison.
Mahoroboshiya, a loose combination of the words “destruction” and illusion”, serve to put forth the idea that Ichiko Aoba seeks to cast aside the veil (or illusion) that covered her past works and her identity not only as an artist, but as a person. She aims to destroy what could be seen as her lack of confidence with the increased focus on her vocals, and the near-abandonment of field recordings, which permeated her repertoire to this point. Instead of a picture or a simplistic colored cover, Aoba chose to grace the incredibly dim cover; yet with her face slightly obscured, it feels as if she is still hesitant to fully bare her abilities and her own self to her audience for the time being. Yet, with Mahoroboshiya
, Aoba has made a start in showing her true self.