Conceptually derived from the work of Japanese minimalist composer Satoshi Ashikawa, I have attempted to compose an album which engages, enriches and reflects one’s surroundings – an environmental music. In the liner notes of his 1982 album Still Way, Ashikawa explains the concept of his work, and discusses how he sought to write music, which acted as an “object or sound scenery to be listened to casualty… it should drift like smoke and become part of the environment surrounding the listener’s activity. In other words, it is music which creates an intimate relationship with people in everyday life.”
The above would go on to act as the conceptual framework for Laistigh den Ghleo, guiding me as to how best engage with the chosen environment and compose for one’s experience of it. However, during the writing process I decided to focus my attention on the movement of the listener and how they experience ever changing urban environments. To represent these changes, the album does give into certain dramatic qualities, which leads away from Ashikawa’s desire for a music that does not excite the listener. However, I hope this is simply viewed as a possible development for environmental music in modern times.
In Still Way’s liner notes, Ashikawa discusses sound pollution, an issue which is still largely ignored in environmental design. However, there has been a significant development in sound design that emphasises the potential of environmental music. In recent years, as smart phones have become ubiquitous, individuals often use earphones in an effort to emancipate themselves from an assaulting audio ecosystem. I believe this makes Ashikawa’s concept of environmental music more relevant than ever, as it offers one the ability to control the sound design of their environment with music composed for such a purpose. Therefore, I believe that an important artistic contribution can be made by releasing this music onto all major streaming platforms, making this music easy to access and thus far more integrated into day to day life than in Ashikawa’s own time. This too, would allow the listener to imbue any surrounding environment with a unique sound design, making this album a multifaceted work with endless potential.
Finally, my personal hope is that my album helps the listener engage and discover their surrounding environment in a manner they haven’t experienced before, and that it subsequently draws further attention to the life and work of Satoshi Ashikawa. To him, Laistigh den Ghleo is dedicated.
– Gareth Quinn Redmond