Ichiko Hashimoto on acoustic piano, synthesizer, and vocal – that’s what the liner notes to Ichiko Hashimoto’s one and only release on Music Interior states as musician credits. Titled Ichiko and graced by a truly autumnal album cover, it’s an album that truly sounds like it looks. Ichiko is a musician well-versed in two worlds. As a trained pianist she has the chops to play straight classical motifs or switch gears and go for jazzy dexterity-filled runs. However, in this early stage in her career she had been more widely known in Japan for taking her great gift for oceanic melodies and applying it to truly avantgarde post-punk music. It would be those same envelope-pushing tendencies that never quite abandon her unique take on neoclassical minimalism here.
Working with Atsuo Fujimoto in the group Colored Music, Ichiko was a pioneer of Japanese music that looked past punk, funk, Jazz, New Wave, and much everything else. Tasking herself in the role of sonic colorer and near-wordless singer, Ichiko (to put it crudely) functioned in the Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie role of this duo. As their rowdy band grooved around them, Ichiko added some unique other that made their music sound far more timeless than its dated release – 1981 – made it out to be. Influences dipped in nouveau chanson, dub, and fusion took their sound out of expected turns. It was dance music that predicts and surpasses a lot of our current dance music, without trying to do so. If you’re interested in listening to that album you can do so here/DISCOVER//. However, today its about Ichiko.
What makes Ichiko so unique is that when tasked to create a far more quiet, still music, Ichiko colors this new canvas with that unique palette. Never reeking of overt-sentimentality, or false-modesty, Ichiko simply sounds exactly as it looks: graceful, intriguing, and multi-layered. Never quite piano nocturnes or serenades, in Ichiko there are too many electronic accoutrements for such movements. What’s here is peace and quiet racked by some unplaceable yearning. Anyway, I should have just stuck with what I said at the beginning: truly autumnal music with an eye towards some decidedly modern feeling – that’s Ichiko.