Chihei Hatakeyama – Butterfly’s Summer and Vanished (White Paddy Mountain, 2018)

Butterflys Summer and Vanished

It was the Solstice at the weekend, the year’s longest day and the official start of Summer. There’s curious paradox there though I find, that at the hemispheric peak of the year Summer is not already underway but only just beginning. From there on out the days shorten and cool, Summer actually more of a slow death rather than a seasonal height.

This sentiment I feel is made immediately clear in opening “Raging Wave”: what could be more apt than the brevity and dynamism of a crashing wave, a fleeting beast brought down at its climax, its foundations crumbling beneath it in the same way Summer finds itself dying at its start. It is aglow, humming and sparkling with drone fluidity, majestic lingerings hovering and slewing beneath the golden Sun in aquamarine guitar drone brilliance as it descends from crystal excellence into opaque, disjointed froth.

Emotions simmer down somewhat once mid-album “Calm Sea” comes around, although echoes of the opener’s turbulence still resonate through. It has a melancholic vibe, a blue streak running through its thin, strained drones that reveal abyssal depths beneath its glassy surface. It shines mutedly, clinging to a dream of Summer that only ever warms the surface, feeling the heartbreak in the inability to penetrate the deep dark with its brief pleasantry. Summer is a grazing, fleeting entity, a scrape of warmth and light gone all too soon.

Follow on album megalith “In The Sunlight” refuses to accept the transience of things and clings to a precious sun-drenched instant. It’s delicate, oneiric, hovering on a knife-edge of seasonal stability, believing that the demise of the careful combination of sun and sea and sky will be undone at any moment til next year. It crystallises itself out of protection, time disappearing into the void of memory, lids closed in preservation of feeling in bending drone lines and hushed tones that hug the senses with flowery airs.

There is sadness to behold here, an uncomfortable awareness of Summer’s fleeting graces, a hovering sense of loss before things have even truly begun. The year is running out already: time to put this record on and begin savouring it.