I wish I had a great way to describe the beauty of Toshifumi Hinata’s music, more so, the beautiful music you’ll find in Story. I’ll skip over his background, which you can peruse here, in a previous post, so that we can get to the meat of the album. Though not quite as dark/moody as Toshifumi’s debut (Sarah’s Crime), or as jazzy/modal as his sophomore release (Chat D’Ete), nor quite as experimental as Reality In Love (released a year prior), there’s something quite enthralling, and ruminative, and, yes, quite <<beautiful>> about his 1987 release: Story.
A mid-ground between all those points, it (no pun intended) tells a quick, musical story tying all of Toshifumi’s previous movements together. Leaning far more on the acoustic and upbeat sound of his experience, Toshifumi Hinata’s Story goes for even more space between the notes, feelings, and ideas. The opening track “Fire and Forever” draws those knocking, reverb-drenched drum tone notes from Sarah’s Crime into the weightless territory of Reality In Love’s, what makes the music of Story different is Toshifumi’s welcome introduction of buoyancy to his music — simply hear that in those restless harp melodies.
Much like the obscure, opaque, yet gorgeous album cover, there’s less smearing impressionism to Story and more straightforward, heart-tugging sentimentality than he’d ever put on display before. Classicism tweaked with modernism, in songs like “Pagan Hymn” and “Milan and Osiris” escape him from the refuge of rote technical proficiency. Beautiful piano melodies affecting the music of Satie, and a truly woke George Winston (I must say), are what immediately spring to mind, as his story is being created.
Yet, in Story, even when the music threatens to get stuck in affectation — on songs like “Pagan Hymn” especially so — Toshifumi finds a way to wander in washes of nostalgia — a lot of the synthetic variety — to make the music turn into something far more gripping. This may be simple music, with simple construction, but boy does it have a heart (seemingly gained from experience).
The stretch from “Tasos De Grece” through “Broken Belief” meanders through halting, lilting melodic vignettes that really bring to mind that atmosphere Toshifumi truly excels at creating. Romantic, nostalgic, and moody in a deeply humane way, Story sounds like the furniture music of Satie trying to find its way to retell its importance in our modern environs. Can you feel the unexplainable midpoints when the bells, of unknown quantity, blur the midnight of “Broken Belief”? When we feel sad. When we feel happy. When we feel at ease. Don’t you need something like “小夜花” you can zero in on when the stillness and quietness creeps in? It may be a quaint disturbance, for sure, but, oh, what a beautiful distraction it can be…