03-04-2024 Music 103

FourColor - Lightscape

FourColor - Lightscape

FourColor is the project of Tokyo’s Keiichi Sugimoto whose first release on 12k was 2004’s Air Curtain. Sugimoto has been part of the 12k roster for 20 years with the FourColor project along with his collaborative project Minamo.

Guitar has always been Sugimoto’s main instrument and, along with synthesizers, the core of the FourColor sound. Typically exploring the edges of digital manipulation the sound has always been about the transformation of the guitar into something decidedly different. On Lightscape Sugimoto takes a different approach. While the guitar is still present, along with a plethora of electronics, there is a host of acoustic instrumentation which brings a breadth and richness that sets Lightscape apart from previous FourColor work.

Lightscape is a complex album that doesn’t sit in one place for too long. The opener, “Bigram” somehow manages to be a delicate wall of noise as intense as it is airy. “Refracted” and “Sink Into Gray” immediately recede into the quiet shadows, Sugimoto’s bass guitar playing coming to the fore, only to make way for “Blur”’s near-folk acoustic finger picking supported by a landscape of otherworldly tones. “Trace” demonstrates the instrumental variety of the album with a stunningly introspective palette while “Spur” echoes back to the opener where distortion peeks over a more heavenly wash. Shades of Minamo can be heard in “Hazy Blue” as the guitar dances over a harmonium as we head for the for the darker, closing “Dawn” which treats us with a more classic FourColor approach to digital maniuplation.

Sugimoto describes Lightscape as “music made in conversation.” He has taken a more deliberate, compositional approach to the songs letting each of the multitude of instruments speak to each other and play off of each other in more intricate ways. It is, by far, his deepest and textured release to date. Natural instrumentation replaces the DSP-heavy sounds from before and opens up a deep new landscape for FourColor to roam in.


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