Flora 1987

There’s something about fall that makes me play Hiroshi Yoshimura’s music much more often. On prior albums like GreenA・I・R (Air In Resort), and Soundscape 1: Surround, Hiroshi perfectly seized on exactly what “environmental music” could be and how it could differ from BGM (background music). No longer mere ambient music, it was decidedly rich, melodic experimentation that seemed to enhance or project precisely what mood Hiroshi was aiming for. On this archival release, Flora 1987, recorded in 1987 and released on CD in 2006, Hiroshi Yoshimura finds a new twist to take the more melodic part of that equation. In this time of gloomy, darken skies, Flora 1987 adds an uplifting swoop to any day.

Far less floating or meditative than before, Flora 1987, arguably, could be described as Hiroshi’s first “Pop” album. Not that anyone can seize on the beauty of any of his previous efforts, but there’s something joyful and quite easy-going about Flora 1987. You could say this one is a ruminative release. Fittingly released by a label known for making music to heal by, something about this release sounds sweet and inviting. One listen to a song like “Maple Syrup Factory” tells you what kind of change Hiroshi was after.

What’s that we hear? We first notice the watery DX7 piano, of prior releases, is mostly gone. What we get now in place is clearly less “treated” acoustic and electric piano, somewhat hearkening to his roots in more academic, classical music. In spite of all this more toned-down sound, painted around the edges are very pink-sounding, innocently wavering synth pads that still separate Hiroshi from that vast majority of boring muzak.

What information that is out there about this release, states that he wrote the majority of it after either viewing or going outside to view various nature scenes and flora (as the title aptly suggests). “Maple Syrup Factory” gives you the very innocent, playful aspect of Hiroshi (and the album itself). I’d be remiss to not bring up the quite nostalgic music that shows the other necessary side to this release.

On songs like “Wind Echo”, or “Asagao”, lightly played, quite melancholic bits of a music, you can sort of tease a more introspective take on environmental music. Less externally looking and slightly plaintive, some melodies you hear on that side of the equation read like experiential, elegiac ballads.

Like every Hiroshi Yoshimura release, Flora 1987 is another special work showing growth that speaks of a man who kept looking for ways to expand on the ideas he studied from his heroes Satie and Eno. With every new release painting a clearer self-portrait of the man, no matter what new hues and techniques he chooses to do so. I’m listening to “Kasumi” now and I’m still remembering the sheer look of joy on the faces of the adults and children in the above video, joining in to contribute to this performance. The joy in art must always be in reflecting part of the viewer onto the work. If that’s the case, I reckon there’s a perfect soundtrack to all of this…