Hakobune – Apsidal Motion (White Paddy Mountain, 2016)


Celestial bodies, as they swing helplessly around more massive objects than themselves, inevitably possess less than perfectly circular orbital paths. This dance they have around their parent star or home planet only needs to be off by a little bit to make their loops elliptical, every pass having a moment where they are at their closest or furthest away. While things speed up dramatically with gravity’s strengthening pull at periapsis, sucking us in and flinging us quickly away at our closest approach, life at apoapsis is different; we’re tugged this time, our escape made impossible by Newtonian mechanics despite the countless attempts as gravity slows our outbound journey. In the same way a ball briefly hangs weightlessly at the top of a throw, so do we at the tip of the ellipse, velocity approaching nil before we succumb and fall back once again.

Apsidal Motion would see the night sky as that graceful crawl at apoapsis, the Sun as far on the opposite side of the world as possible, the day slowing to a halt at its furthest point and opening the heavens up above us as reward. The 42 minutes of frozen guitar drones Yorifuji provides us with are nothing short of glacial as we venture as far from the Sun’s rays as our planet allows, the only light to be found now emerging from extraterrestrial phenomena that draw our eyes to the sky like sirens. The reverbed tones linger and fold slowly, the stars gently twinkling overhead as they pass over again in their endless circles, a pale brightness perhaps being provided by the calm light of the Moon as it engages in its own orbital maneuvers, elongate shimmers piercing through the layers like the rare fleck of auroral glow.

At its peak it almost feels energised, a certain level of excitement expressed through carefully crescendoed textures that seem to come alive almost ironically in the deepest dark, but those lush heights are quickly quelled in the final minutes as the piece begins to fade sadly away. The hours of peace and emptiness alone with the stars and our thoughts are over, a brightness on the horizon eroding the sky back to life yet paradoxically stripping it of the same thing. That brief slew into darkness is, afterall, our only reminder of the great wide Universe outside, a chance to peer through space and time and sit imagining all of its wonders. At the very least there’s a mournful acceptance that Newton will allow us another chance again tomorrow.