Hakobune – Dead Leaves Crumble (2013)

I must admit that I am sceptical when approaching prolific artists; his 3rd album this year and 20th over the last 6 is certainly an elevated level of output but it seems that Hakobune has not suffered in the slightest as he unveils his latest guitar-lead drone work, Dead Leaves Crumble.


It’s funny that we’re reminded of uncomfortable truths in occasional, infrequent waves, alarming reminders of undesirable things we try to keep ourselves away from and thinking about. I’m talking about mortality at this point, perhaps one of humanities biggest fears. I don’t want to go into too much detail but this album and its concepts have come along at a particular time when I’ve been thinking greatly about the fragility of life and of those that I care about.

With that we’re introduced to the first of this album’s two tracks, “Salvia Greggi Broken”. Named after a small flowering plant found at altitude, it harbours none of the airs of beauty and humility of this little flower. What it is is a delicate masterpiece of slow motion intrigue and sadness. Built on a bed of guitar drones and thin pulses of sparkling currents it ebbs and flows, the decaying leaves browning and shriveling, blowing helplessly in the wind. It’s a sad sight to behold and Hakobune keeps us trapped in death’s gaze for 15 minutes with this piece, unwavering in its resolve and continually cycling through the same notes in a paralysing, hypnotic stare. Here at the edge of Summer it’s difficult to remember what Autumn last year was like, a colourful display of decay and collapse that this track finds itself at the heart of, with the bare emptiness of Winter at the doorstep.

The second track of the album, the title track, also follows the 15 minute limit imposed by the former, but this time round we face a piece that breaks free of the dark and claustrophobic confines. The drone in many ways is the same; carefully and almost imperceptibly looped sequences gently rising and falling and creeping along at a glacial pace, but there is a subtle shift in the atmosphere and in how the drone shimmers and reverbs that gives it the sensation of yearning and progression. The fact that Hakobune has done little to the music itself except raise the pitch and give it a slight flutter and not keep it flat and anechoic echoes how potent slight changes in Drone music are and how delicate the line it treads is. “Dead Leaves Crumble” is the flip side, the hopefulness and desire to move on, knowing that there will be another Summer and another opportunity to see the flowers again following the sadness of Autumn.

In the 30 minutes of Dead Leaves Crumble, Hakobune actually takes us through a surprising rollercoaster of emotion, if you’re willing to put in the effort. It may not seem like it on the surface but through the minimal and effortless drones conjured here he tackles the darkest fear of all, death, and then its aftermath. He reminds us that we just have to keep on living, and indeed how the world continues on without us whether we’re ready or not, and before we know it those dark months have passed us by and the good times of Summer come round once more.

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