mon 22/04/2019

CD: Satoshi Tomiie - New Day | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Satoshi Tomiie - New Day

CD: Satoshi Tomiie - New Day

Democratised opulence from veteran Japanese house producer

New Day: definitely not for people who are angry about 'lifestyle music'

Here's a funny one: used as an adjective, “lifestyle” has lately become a popular pejorative term for music (see, most recently, the kerfuffle over Jamie xx's debut solo album). It's taken the place of “coffee table”, which was the Nineties phrase of choice to deride trip-hop and other styles that were considered too smooth or sedentary to meet required criteria of rebelliousness or authenticity or whatever.

This tends, of course, to be a thin veil for inevitably middle-class commentators' neuroses and noble savage view of musicians – and it never involves any examination of who listens to the music in question in reality or what purpose the music serves in their lives, just the continued building of one big undifferentiated IKEA-inhabiting blank-eyed neoliberal strawman.

New Day, by the 48-year-old Japanese producer still best known for "Tears", his 1989 co-production with Frankie Knuckles, is not for people who are angry about “lifestyle music”. It is mostly slow, mostly instrumental, electronic deep house music, with not a hair out of place. Every line is smooth, every cymbal pattern glides regularly over perfectly balanced bass tones and a steady kickdrum. When there are acid house synth noises, they are like a babbling brook, not the torrent of derangement of more ravey tunes. At every moment where it feels a bit sparse, a soft chord wafts up from nowhere and fills the space like perfume or coloured light.

It is lifestyle music in the most literal sense. It is interior design music: if you give it time and immerse yourself, it surrounds you with elegance, calm and opulence. It's not innovative and it's not radical. It just does a job. But does that mean it is somehow morally bad? Well, the great point about instrumental music, and especially when it is as calm and thoughtful as this, is that it allows you to make up your own mind.

It is democratising in that way: when something is as cheap (or free) as recorded music now is, it offers up opulence and space for thought that's available to all. In a time when our attention is pulled endlessly hither and thither, something which is expressly dedicated to your own space – yes, to your own lifestyle – has real value, and so does this rather beautiful album.

If you give it time and immerse yourself, it surrounds you with elegance, calm and opulence

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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