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Bitter Sweet

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Album Review

There is one good single word to describe electronic/ambient composer Sawako's 12k disc Bitter Sweet, and that's "addictive." While it contains nine tracks, some of which are moderately long, the album flows together with such coherence and sense of purpose that one doesn't feel the sequential progression of pieces, and while it runs about 50 minutes one hardly feels the time passing — once it's over you just want to hear it again. Sawako studied classical piano early on, and her contact with such music informs her ability to extract and organize the indefinable sounds and to put them in motion. However, from there it is difficult to describe or to categorize the effects that she gets, or that this music has. It is rather like the warm soak that the artist appears to be taking on the front cover; the music washes around the listener and envelops the ears and mind, yet nothing about it sounds clingy or condescending — it is pure. It's like a tall, cool glass of water when you're thirsty. Sawako divides her time between Brooklyn and Tokyo, and it seems a pity to lay the tags "electronica" and "ambient" at her feet, although the second term fits a little better. It's just that her sound is more challenging and complex than "ambient" would normally indicate; while one might know how Eno's Music for Airports was done and be able to hum some of the "tunes" in it, Sawako's music has this seemingly impenetrable luster to it and defies analysis. Bitter Sweet is a comely, fulfilling album that massages the ears, but also involves the brain, leaving one anxious to hear what else Sawako has up her sleeve.

Bitter Sweet, Sawako
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