Chihei Hatakeyama – A Long Journey

Long Journey

The cover: a vaguely faded photograph of a red-headed girl swimming.
Titles like: “Morning Arrive on the Island”, “The Moon Reflecting On The Surface Of The Ocean”, “Within New Trees”, “A Quiet Pond”, “Haze From The River”.
The sound: light-natured, never dark or threatening, perfectly in line with the track titles..

A Long Journey by Chihei Hatakeyama  is a great release to celebrate the fresh Spring season.

Chihei refers to the Shinto religion of Japan, teaching us that “everything has a spiritual essence (a ‘Kami’). They reside in everything (…) Quite often these are rocks, rivers, trees, mountains and other such calming natural places”.

Living in San Francisco, Hatakeyama manages to conjure the inner calm and peacefullness of these natural shrines of the Japanese Shinto religion.

A while ago on the ambient music mailing list ( there was a short discussion about the difference between ambient music and ‘new age’ music. Though some ambient devotees (including myself) dread to be associated with the ‘new age’ genre, the border is a thin line that cannot easily be objectivated.
Someone on the list came up with this original definition: “New Age music is afraid of the dark – Ambient music isn’t.” 

Though I did like that as a statement, in fact Chihei Hatakeyama‘s “Long Journey” proves this definition very wrong.
It is light-hearted in nature, there’s nothing even remotely ‘dark’ on this release, but still it is definitely NOT ‘New Age‘!
The difference may be in the intentions the music is created with. If it is it to explore new fields, new sounds, new dimensions, does not avoid to seek out adventurous paths, it’s not ‘New Age’. “New Age” is about avoiding risk and seeking comfort in well-known, soothing cliche’s that are not meant to raise an eyebrow.

Hatakeyama proves that adventurous music does not need to be ‘dark’ or ‘frightening’ to be adventurous and exploring. Did I mention that this is a perfect album to celebrate a new season?

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