orgive me for beginning with this name, but Theodor Adorno's Minima Moralia carries the subtitle "Reflections from Damaged Life." Lacking a defining article, Adorno's titles shows a concern with the damage to life itself, if it still exists, rather than suggesting a meditation on autobiography. When Hatakeyama lifts this title for his debut solo album, he does so as he offers a response to the ongoing damage to life from mass production and consumption. He builds his music from basic acoustic components, but he processes them through a laptop, positioning each sound in a specific place to develop ambience while exposing space; making the music sound easy even while revealing the gaps of construction. In short, he might be more pop than pulp, but Hatakeyama skips pop for high art, evading the mass with his production, and offering an answer from outside the strictures of the problem.
But more important, his album is very, very lovely.
Hatakeyama's music sounds cold, but never sterile. It's a common mistake—and often a revealing one—to praise electronic music for sounding "warm," "emotional," or "human." With his electroacoustic techniques, Hatakeyama deliberately blurs the distinction and creates pieces that viscerally (if not qualitatively) envelop. His tones start most noticeably from a vibraphone, then fade in and out, calling attention not to themselves, but to their transience. That impermanence accumulates, extending songs to lengths that suggest eternal presentation and, maybe counter-intuitively, cease to delineate its passage.
You could never fall in love to this music, but it could help you meditate on a love lost.
"Granular Haze"—the only title that doesn't depict a quotidian moment ripe for an epiphanic offering—describes Hatakeyama's aesthetic. He breaks sound apart; he offers a single guitar pluck, a single mallet hit, a static crackle. He reveals each moment precisely; melody rarely rises and, as it does, it only illuminates the notes that stand still. Yet each track provides only a vague outline, a shadow filling its form but never reaching its borders. He gives us the pieces, but they don't add up to a whole. He understands Adorno taught, "The whole is the false." Hatakeyama presents the incomplete, the partial experience, but it adds up.
The album's cover image is a spring-ready plant; the black-and-white is the winter desert. Hatakeyama's music travels best in high-mountain regions and northern prairies and disappears into itself in the tropics. It requites patience and imagination, and it teaches both.
By releasing an album called Minima Moralia (to be followed, one imagines, by L'ecriture et Differance), Hatakeyama's begged for theoretical consideration. He's made a statement about escaping pop culture. This album could easily have been one solely for people who make sure you see what they're reading on the bus and who know how to properly order a latte. Those people can theorize plenty with it, but I'm not those people. I listen to it because its beauty speaks to me.
And also because it fights bourgeois complacency.