Harold Nono/Hidekazu Wakabayashi - Harold Nono/Hidekazu Wakabayashi (Bearsuit)

Ethereal and often beautiful, Nono and Wakabayashi's collaborative efforts lack the focus to push us over the edge.

Released Jul 27th, 2010 via Bearsuit / By Norman Miller
Harold Nono/Hidekazu Wakabayashi - Harold Nono/Hidekazu Wakabayashi (Bearsuit) One of the joys of this interweb thing is how it not only gives exposure to a vast range of musicians but also allows them to hook up. Which is how Edinburgh-based Nono and straight-outta-Osaka Wakabayashi found themselves getting in touch in 2007 to express a spot of mutual admiration and get some collaboration going.

Though Wakabayashi’s electro-acoustic ambience might not seem an obvious match-up with Nono‘s indie guitar background in bands like Idiot Half Brother, Pep Boys and Taub, the Scot has already shown another more complementary side in his solo work such as 2006’s darkly ambient To The River Lounge.

That album’s liking for ethereal Japanese vocals and staccato electronic splashes melds easily enough with Wakayashi’s gentler sound. But what the resulting 11 tracks lack isn’t prettiness but focus.

Most of the tracks contain beautiful sections drawing sonic textures from a palette of acoustic and electric piano and guitar, autoharps, glissando percussive tinkles, wordless vocals, bits of field recordings. Yet often things drift from texture to texture without quite enough sense of unity or purpose.

So it’s more a case of standout moments rather than standout tracks. Piano is a strongpoint on the album - stumbling and beautifully childlike on 'I’ve Heard Giants', set sweetly into a squeezebox melody on 'Family', elegantly phrased on 'Ya Chaika'. The accordion and vibes mix on 'Scobies Roundie' is also charming enough.

Three tracks do manage to pull together the duo‘s genuine and diverse talents and show what the rest of the album misses - 'I Wanted To Go To The Party' with its disjointed vocal and fuzzy guitar splashes, and the all-too-short piano gem 'A Shout Away' and the jazzily reflective 'Wild Blue Yonder'.