Review Summary: A pleasant trip.
According to certain unsubstantiated rumours, Natsukashii’s minimalist ambient gem Driving East
was recorded somewhere in Japan sometime during the 80s. Needless to say, this is quite a vague backstory. Although it was never officially released until now, it has allegedly garnered a small cult following across the years all the same. About its conjectured history and opaque publishing status, I cannot speak, but as to its quality as a musical product, there's certainly much to recommend it. Employing glassy tones with bell-like clarity, this brief album effortlessly induces a calming effect and melts away worries like the summer sun liquifies ice-cream. Largely consisting of skeletal synth melodies popping and clinking together, Natsukashii does a lot with a little. This mysterious project interweaves simple chord progressions and pretty keyboard lines in repetitive swelling patterns, facilitating spacey harmonic contemplation. The best way I can think to express what’s going on isn't really ideal for this format, because I seem compelled to use pseudo-onomatopoeia: it goes tinkle and buzz, lilt and twinkle, tick and boop. Everything is so airy and free flowing that Driving East
feels alive and in stasis at the same time; it's a passive observer and an active participant, reminiscing about times gone by while enjoying the moment. So, whether or not this little new-age number was really
uncovered from the past and presented afresh, as the tale claims, it is nevertheless a satisfying myth for a record which offers nostalgic reflection while projecting a positive future.