Toshimi Mikami - 気舞 - Quimai 2LP
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"Night Rhythms proudly presents a first-time vinyl edition of Toshimi Mikami’s elusive gem of 90’s ambient “気舞 - Quimai” (“Chi Dance”). Released on CD in 1996 and again in 2008, this double LP version marks the first time the album will be readily available outside of Japan. Mikami states: “I made this album mainly as background music for Qi Gong, Tai Chi, yoga, etc., but I also want people to use it for various other kinds of relaxation.” The music reflects the practice of these deliberate, meditative disciplines with spacious motifs carried along by a steady rhythmic current. In his liner notes for the original CD edition, which are reprinted here, Mikami’s one-time bandmate Harumi Hosono writes of the evolution of the ambient/“organic” strain in 20th century music that “eyes, ears, and hearts opened like never before may now extend beyond notions to the specks of the natural world.” Ambient music isn’t music stripped of meaning, but rather its meaning finds form in our connection to the most basic elements of our environment, as distinguished from what Hosono calls the “endlessly exhausted economic principles” of modern pop music.
“Quimai” exists at the intersection of ambient, new age, and classic minimalism, with a gentle synthetic palette of global instrumentation layered and braided into fully orchestrated compositions. Relaxing though it may be, it’s a very focused sort of relaxation that encourages active listening rather than the blissful “tuning out” that some ambient music can inspire. Opening track “十六夜の月 Izayoi No Tsuki” immediately calls to mind Steve Reich’s work with its insistent 6/4 pulse and prominent woodwinds and percussion. “玉響 Ai Ai” continues on a similar footing, with shards of sunlight glinting off an otherwise untroubled and tireless stream. The enchanting marimba ostinato of “玉響 Tamayura” has a subaquatic quality, as if the listener is now witnessing the events on the water’s surface from below. Mikami follows it with “早乙女 Saotome,” a carefree piece that sheds the vestiges of tension present in the preceding tracks and features a playfully cascading gamelan figure. All underlying rhythmic churn falls away with album-closer “天の小道 Ama No Komichi,” an airy piece that maintains a structure similar to its sibling works while coming closest to the new age tradition, breathing freely without ever standing still. One can imagine Mikami or other practitioners enacting the final movements of their daily exercise — body tired but limber, mind reset.
This gatefold double LP edition is mastered from the original source by Travis Nordahl with lacquers cut at Palomino Records (USA). Track 3 “玉響 Tamayura” has been slightly abridged to fit the constraints of the format. Artistic elements of both CD editions have been combined by Joe Bastardo with additional nature photography courtesy of Night Rhythms Recordings owner Greg Holly. Liner notes by Toshimi Mikami and Harumi Hosono."