Une Collection des Chainons II

When I originally wrote my piece on Yoshio Ojima’s groundbreaking work Une Collection des Chainons I, I couldn’t think of why omitted the second part of his story. Une Collection des Chainons II truly cements what a monumental piece of music (Une Collection des Chainons I&II) for the Wacoal Art Center was. Trying to move forward from Eno’s ambient Music For Airports and into the personal, spiritual space of Hiroshi’s work, Une Collection des Chainons II wasn’t mere BGM to shuttle you along — it was music that somehow bended time/space to move you along. Originally, released on CD, the best way to have heard it would have been in person, at the Spiral, exactly where Yoshio Ojima performed these pieces. In lieu of that, let’s hope this takes you close.

In Une Collection des Chainons II, Yoshio Ojima sets in place clearer signals to pinpoint what kind of environments, feelings, or textures he aimed to put you in. A song called “Atrium”, in sound, both floating and heavenly arranged, evokes the impossible-possible beauty fashioned through architectural design, and also the possible beauty found in sound design to elevate such lived-in art even further by adding to the experience. Framing life and light, or the moments of spirituality in the mundane, seems to be what elevates Une Collection des Chainons II to its outstanding pitch. “Atrium” a song just eight minutes long, is but a piece of a larger view exploring how humans have this inherent capability to do such things — make things they touch embody so much more. You don’t have to be at Wacoal’s Art Center to actually imagine such an inner, open-space, to actually hear, then feel it.

“Orientate” an interweaving song full of what amounts to three different, pining, sine waves, captures all the various meanings of such a word. Orientate, that Spanish word for finding your place but also that English one for showing others how/where to place themselves, a word “constructed” like that, is met with equally thought-out sound design to bring out its art. How can such a word exist with such a double meaning? How can one capture its feeling? Yoshio does.

In Une Collection des Chainons II, Yoshio seems to be applying the ideas of sound design at molecular, architectural levels, somewhere beyond what we assume is the realm of environmental music. The twinkling, toy box opener “Les Trois Graces” instantly brings to mind small things — a berceuse that transcends our humanity (culture/generation). What makes innocence and vulnerability such a powerful thing to conjure when we hear certain tones or notes? Seven minutes long, “Les Trois Graces” explores the beauty Chopin, Ravel, Satie, and many others discovered in the music of Indonesia or in the quiet, esoteric sonic ambience of Zen gardens. Womb-like, it has a comforting, ethereal warmth that can go on forever. Shy mallet-like instrumentation/melodies of organic/inorganic stuff, seeming to develop itself, in such a way, as well in this introduction.

At the end of the day, that ability to blur so many lines, and keep them deeply human, is what makes Une Collection des Chainons II such an intriguing listen — some, what, 30-odd years later?. Searching songs like “Pulse At Soothe” or “Parjanya” come the closest to hearing Yoshio wear his heart at the sleeve. Subterranean trickles of imagined, or impressed-upon, electronic chirp, glow even more otherworldly, through songs like “Entomology (Let’s GO-GO)”. Songs to soundtrack a market place (“Market”) radiate with spectral cheer, like the afterglow of a special holiday trip. Then it all ends with a song that speaks of our very special place in our environment. We are the glitch in the environment that can change the world (for better or worse), through deeds (good or bad), organic and inorganic imagination. We’re all structural pieces with deep, fascinating emotion behind us. Perhaps it’s time to live in/with these just for a bit?