Satoshi Ashikawa – Still Way, 1982

The only available recordings from Satoshi Ashikawa, who passed away shortly after making this record. This was the second in a three record series called Wave Notation, which also included Hiroshi Yoshimura‘s Music for Nine Postcards and a collection of Erik Satie songs played by Satsuki Shibano–fittingly, fans of Yoshimura and Satie will find a lot to love here. Perfectly bare bones minimalism–just harp, piano, flute, and vibraphone. Crystalline, pastoral, picnic-ready. Midori Takada on both harp and vibraphone. Long out of print.

From the liner notes written by Ashikawa himself:

“Sound design” doesn’t just mean simply decorating with sounds. The creation of non-sound, in other words silence, as in a design, if possible, would be wonderful. There’s no question that our age — in which we are inundated with sound – is historically unprecedented. The Canadian sound environmentalist and researcher Murray Schafer warns of this state of affairs in the following: “The ear, unlike some other sense organs, is exposed and vulnerable. The eye can be closed at will; the ear is always open. The eye can be focused and pointed at will; the ear picks up all sound right back to the acoustic horizon in all directions. Its only protection is an elaborate psychological system of filtering out undesirable sounds in order to concentrate on what is desirable. The eye points outward; the ear draws inward. It would seem reasonable to suppose that as sound sources in the acoustic environment multiply – and they are certainty multiplying today —the ear will become blunted to them and will fail to exercise its individualistic right to demand that insouciant and distracting sounds should be stopped in order that it may concentrate totally on those which truly matter.”

We should have a more conscious attitude toward the sounds – other than music —that we listen to. Presently, the levels of sound and music in the environment have clearly exceeded man’s capacity to assimilate them, and the audio ecosystem is beginning to fall apart. Background music, which is supposed to create “atmosphere,” is far too excessive. In our present condition, we find that within certain areas and spaces, aspects of visual design are well attended to, but sound design is completely ignored. It is necessary to treat sound and music with the same level of daily need as we treat architecture, interior design, food, or the air we breathe. In any case, the Wave Notation series has begun. I hope it will be used and judged for what I had in mind as “sound design,” but of course the listener is free to use it in any way. However, I would hope this music does not become a partner in crime to the flood of sounds and music which inundate us at present.

2 thoughts on “Satoshi Ashikawa – Still Way, 1982”

  1. Found this and your site via the Visible Cloaks article on Ableton.com. Incredible pieces. And I'm really enjoying your selections throughout the whole site. Thank you very much!

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