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I first met Chihei at the Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival in 2006. Its very fitting really because when I asked him a bit about the background of the album, Chihei described A Long Journey as follows:
‘An essential part of the album are my experiences when I went to Bellingham and San Francisco in 2006. I used field recording material recorded in San Francisco. “A Long Journey” is a metaphor for life, my image of the journey of birth to death.’
Since I was a high-school student I have been interested in the Shinto religion of Japan. Shinto teaches us that everything has a spiritual essence (a ‘Kami’). This loosely translates as a spirit, or god even. There being a myriad of these Kami, they reside in everything but some places are considered to have a more scared spirit within them. Quite often these are rocks, rivers, trees, mountains and other such calming natural places, hence why so many shrines are built in such unique areas.
Given the nature of A Long Journey, even the track titles themselves, I am reminded of how I feel when I visit these sacred places. Whilst people might not believe in religion and its after-thoughts, there is something about such places that creates a space within, a quiet space of peace and calm. In the music and indeed the titles themselves, it is this very feeling I get when I listen to A Long Journey. Its very focused on its field recordings, but it also highlights what a fabulously talented musician Chihei is, with very direct guitar-based pieces, as well as gorgeous piano elements. That it features the enormously talented (and future Home Normal artist) Federico Durand, only highlights its beautiful mystery (after all…Federico does much of his recording high up in the mountains of his native Argentina).
It was a heavy snowfall the winter we met in Bellingham, and we spent a few days together with good friends, enjoying the misty seas, views and snow-covered tree dense walks just outside the town. As Chihei made his way to San Francisco, it must have been quite a continuation of this feeling, with San Francisco’s calming charm and grey misty views. The great thing about Kami is that they are not limited to Japan of course, they are found everywhere after all. If “A Long Journey” is a metaphor for life, then it is a life of peace and tranquility, filled with Kami, and that is not a bad journey at all
released January 25, 2010
All songs written and mixed by Chihei Hatakeyama, except track 8, which is a collaboration with Federico Durand
Mastered by Hideki Ataka from Airplane Label
Photography by Danielle Baquet-Long