In this biweekly column, TMT Cerberus editor Justin Spicer shares with you some killer tape-only releases he's had on repeat of late. This week, he reviews two cassettes from Japanese guitarist and drone-scaper Takahiro Yorifuji: The Cowboy Across the River, out now on Constellation Tatsu, and, Cloak of Gray, on Fadeaway Tapes.
The myriad works of Takahiro Yorifuji are otherworldly in how perfectly they capture our world. Under the guise of Hakobune, Yorifuji has woven delicate portraits outside of the static and chaos that has come to rule so much of our waking hours. Yorifuji has found solace in bringing the peace of slumber to calm our nerves, with the light-up touch of E.T. and a heart full of hope.
Documenting each Hakobune release is impossible. Pluck one out of the ether, and two more appear. The dreamlands Yorifuji creates with his guitar are never-ending, and if they should end I hate to imagine what it spells for our fate. The Cowboy Across the River and Cloak of Gray are two of the latest Hakobune tapes to come to surface. Both continue Yorifuji’s string of guarded whispers about what CAN be beyond what IS, though each presents a different aspect of Hakobune’s droning guitar signature.
Yorifuji often takes his time to compose his thoughts, spreading one piece across an entire side of tape. Cloak of Gray speaks in simple, concise sentences. Over the course of four musical messages, Yorifuji demonstrates that patience can give way to urgency, and though the tone of Cloak of Gray never strays from the meditative pace of his previous work, the use of four minutes rather than ten produces a potent stance. “Dreamt” and “Descended” make for the album's most vibrant moments, with bright notes of distinguishable guitar punctuating Yorifuji’s mantras.
The orator returns with The Cowboy Across the River. “Letter Forgotten” breathes in slowly, carefully releasing oxygen rich deposits into an atmosphere in need of calming relief from Earth’s frenetic pace. Hakobune is always cool and collected. “Around This Always” is a bit more cautious, with Yorifuji delivering an ominous tone from his mount-on-high-- a darker, minor key omen we all must heed.
To accept Hakobune, one must be receptive. He takes his time even as the world races to its doom. But there is wisdom and safety within this music, and above all, a message of hope. It’s not a bogus credo or hollow motto but more a single ray of light, reaching toward us from a place beyond our comprehension. To one day travel to the plane where Yorifuji exists is the greatest gift the Hakobune canon has to offer.