Review | Songlines

Another World of Okinawan Music

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details


Aragaki Mutsumi


Ninuhai Recordings


On her debut, Okinawan musician Mutsumi reimagines the soundscapes of her native island as an electro-acoustic experience. Having studied with some of the masters of Okinawan traditional music, Mutsumi has sought to combine her vocals and sanshin (lute) with electronic soundscapes and audio-visuals, creating a reflection of local culture that operates both internally and externally. Brief spoken passages (described as an ‘Entrance’ and ‘Exit’), serve as bookends that set a contemplative and immersive tone, the album leisurely shifts between scenes of musical and textural ambience.

Mutsumi achieves this with various samples and field recordings of Okinawan life, blending natural sounds with those of local musicians and festivities. While the album is at its most striking when Mutsumi's voice and sanshin are at the forefront, her beautifully melismatic vocals are a particular highlight; these moments of ambiguity serve to cut to the heart of the album's core themes of place and growth. Innovative and avant-garde, Mutsumi has succeeded in creating a work that upends conventional notions of Okinawan music, while being a cerebral work of art in its own right. The physical edition also comes with a DVD containing additional soundscapes, art and archive footage.

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