Eiko Ishibashi – The Dream My Bones Dream review

Secret Meeting score: 80

by Philip Moss

For those who believe in Schrödinger’s Cat theory, there could be a parallel universe simultaneously taking place where Kate Bush was never discovered as a fifteen year old by Dave Gilmour. And, as a result, the magnificence of her back catalogue – in particular her pioneering of the Fairlight CMI workstation on Hounds of Love – never happened. If this were to be the case, there’s a chance that the combination of aching, experimental synths paired with layered female vocals, such as those found on Eiko Ishibashi’s new album, The Dream My Bones Dream, would never have come to be either.

Opener, Prologue: Hands On The Mouth, is a densely populated city of Bush-evoking skyscraper drones, over which the Japanese multi-instrumentalist weaves in and out with controlled vocal improvisations and a swirl of jazz inspired, acrobatic brass. But for all Ishibashi’s wonderful synth work that appears on the record, perhaps the most immediately powerful elements of the record come from her percussion.

Agloe ebbs, flows and pulsates with criss-crossing melodies that are part Thom Yorke and part Disney soundtrack. Iron Veil is perhaps the best example of Ishibashi’s collaboration with producer, Jim O’Rourke, as the song feels very much of the same vein as those that appeared on his last solo record, Simple Songs, which featured Ishibashi as a member of his band. The double bass that both underpins and drives A Ghost In a Train, Thinking, and the top line vocal melody of the title track again bring Kate Bush to mind. While To The East is perhaps the record’s most special moment – a mournful ballad that juxtaposes erratic percussion against controlled pianos.

Despite 50% of the record being made up of murky instrumental pieces, the vocals that do feature are barely decipherable. But this only adds to the record’s wicked spell. The collection was partly inspired by the discovery of family photographs following the death of her grandfather. Like a family heirloom or grainy photograph, this is a set of songs that poses as many questions as it answers, and begs you to get lost in its experimental splendour.

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