Lawrence „Yoyogi Park“
Pete Kersten (aka. Lawrence) on his previous album “Films & Windows”, which was released on Dial Records, already experimented with field recordings that he had brought back from his numerous travels. Subtly, yet all the more efficiently. Through these field recordings his already very personal tracks gained an even more personal touch, clearly demonstrating and conveying to the listener the restless curiosity with which he as an artist interacts with the world and the manner in which he is moved by it.
I remember the track “Kurama” most vividly (a version of which had already been released on Pampa Records not yet featuring field recordings as explicitly) during the album version of which Kersten uses sounds from the train that takes visitors from downtown Kyoto to the small village of Kurama, which is located in the mountains north of the city, which were used as a motif on the cover of Efdemin’s album “Decay” – by the way not to be confused with “Kuramae Subway Station”, which is the station that Surgeon immortalised on his Fabric 53 mix. This might well be because I have already had the chance to visit the temple and Kurama Onsen myself. However, it would be foolish to dismiss his references as something that is only meant for insiders and merely superficial; Lawrence’s music is much to sensitive for shenanigans like that: he is all about moods and sounds, not about references and merely positioning himself.
“Yoyogi Park” is the third part in a series of releases of ambient music whose artwork has been created by the Hamburg-based artist Stefan Marx and which have all so far been released on the label Mule Musiq, which is run by Toshiya Kawasaki. ”
In contrast to the previous two parts of the series, “Until Then, Goodbye” (2009) and “A Day In the Life” (2014), “Yoyogi Park” right from the beginning strongly gravitates towards the club scene (above all “Nowhere Is A Place”, an alternate version of which had already been released on Smallville Records, as well as “Nightlife” and “Blue Mountain”, which had been released on Mule two years ago, represent that tendency).
In this context, ambient is much rather to be understood as the way the sound is being treated and not as a direct attribution of genre – much contrary to what one might come to expect, given the labelling as “ambient music”, rhythm and percussion are ubiquitous and that in a compelling and rich way – I can honestly not recall when I was last so in love with listening to every single last beat, each and every one of them with such accuracy that is really only known in Japan.
The place that these beats take us to, said Yoyogi Park, is a public park in the city district of Shibuya, which is home to the Meiji shrine and Kyū-gyoen gardens and above all, on the weekends, home to multitudes of teenagers that escape the narrow-mindedness and limitedness of their homes, to come together in the park for music, dancing, drinking and all that.
It is elements like the bubbly run of the melody in the opener “Marble Star” that instantly conjure mental images of Brian Eno and his explorations of sound, the astoundingly free piano sounds in “Tensui” (which is a container for liquids) or the nervous moods that “Ava” conveys that automatically remind the listener of early Aphex Twin; they all make clear why “Yoyogi Park” is an ambient record at its core after all. It is ambient without being overly restrictive – a true Sensai is allowed to consider the big picture. This effect is most strinkingly achieved in the last third of the album, with tracks like “Simmer”, “Clouds and Arrows” and above all with the last track “Illuminated” – and at the very end, the listener feels just as illuminated, in the best possible way, much like at the end of one of those long days at Yoyogi Park.