Ichiko Aoba’s Windswept Adan is the seventh album from the Japanese singer-songwriter and guitarist and was written as “the soundtrack to a fictitious movie” an album designed to “tell a science fiction story, a sonic voyage through the East China Sea”. Inspiration also came from travelling to Japan’s Ryukyu Archipelago with photographer Kodai Kobyashi in 2020 and drawing on the beauty on the coral as a starting point for the story of the album.

Windswept Adan is a gently buoyant set of 14 tracks that follow a fictional female character on her journey through the islands and a across space and time. This is an album that wants you to float with it and be carried along on currents that offer you safe passage across its running time. Every sound is perfectly placed throughout the tracks, from the calm repetition of the guitar on ‘Easter Lily’ or ‘Sagu Palms Song’, the glockenspiel ripples on ‘Porcelain’, the birdsong and Debussy-like piano of ‘Parfum d’etoiles’ or the string section on ‘Hagupit’, and much of the album is populated with field recordings taken during Aoba’s time spent amongst the islands.

Aoba uses her voice to beautiful effect whether it’s the haunting singing on ‘HORO’ which is eventually joined by an accordion (an easy instrument for seafarers to pack for long journeys), the ancient sounding harmonies on ‘Kirinaki Jima’ or the lullaby quality of ‘Sagu Palms Song’ and ‘Chi no Kaze’. It is utterly captivating and can be steeped in reverb or free from effects to move in close and intimate. The hypnotic grace of Windswept Adan would be familiar to anyone who loves Haiku Salut and its inherent tranquillity is like a set of the most exquisite watercolours with no hard frame or solid lines, just the impression of a time and place as a wash of colours and the smell of salt spray in the air.

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Review by Paul F Cook

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