Something Veiled by Leo Okagawa

Leo Okagawa | Something Veiled
Unfathomless (CD/DL)

This is a nice introduction to the world of Japanese sound artist Leo Okagawa with regards to Unfathomless. Something Veiled was recorded mostly within a set of caves around Fukushima, made from limestone. As such it’s got this watery cavernous feel, but given the site one cannot divorce it from the 2011 nuclear incident, despite recovery efforts, et al. given the potential for radioactive contamination. However, Okagawa establishes an ultimately peaceful atmosphere with ony the barest hint of ominous-ness.

The artist says: “Lots of inaudible things are also included in temperature, humidity, weight of atmosphere. These are what my skin felt. Therefore, I thought I need to record what we often overlook. Waters that fall from stalactites or run down the walls, a subtle hum from lighting equipment, echoes of my shoe soles on wet floors“… It’s so powerful to hear his observations as a photographic artist who primarily works in plein air also listen for the most subtle surroundings, the incidental. And the tiny drops and creaks are all left in his recording in the chasms and lulls of the forty-two minute work. So what is veiled?

In some ways what may seem missing is the human presence, giving nature time to recover, whisper, ooze. The recording is a testament to quietude and endurance. Okagawa’s sound is pensively removed from the urban grind, finding it’s resonance organically time-based. There’s nothing particularly performative here (per se), instead he inlays his vision in the mix, like a organically formulated recipe that continues to simmer. And at about halfway in it does so with a waterway that sounds more like the hiss of percolating molecules.

After this point of apex the mood begins to disperse and flatten some as if fermenting. And the ambient silences open to the tranquilizing sounds of raindrops. Once this peters out the listener is left with equipment static and a ‘nearly’ silent void, but therein lies the continued tension, that type of quiet that makes your senses hyper aware. Eventually the end rolls into an extended gong-like drone and its echoes until the presence of human movements, like putting away equipment and walking out of an enclosed space, bring this to closure.

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