Japanese For Beginners
Near the Parenthesis
Japanese For Beginners is seamless almost to a fault. Led via piano but operating on a series of keys, beats and ambient swells, Tim Arndt’s song-cycle flows like a continuous bubbling-up of tear-inducing melodies and intricate drum-loops. The set feels whole in a way that track titles, suggestive though they may be, can’t really slice up. Was that ‘The Rose and Burial’ or ‘The First Surface’ playing? Don't worry, it’s hard to separate.
Now if that sort of homogeny doesn’t sound appealing, you've probably yet to give Japanese For Beginners the benefit of the doubt. Here’s a record that dives straight into the lush details of Four Tet’s Rounds and then stitches a series of emotional sonatas into the flurry. Track titles, suggestive though they may be, can’t function on the level of Arndt’s piano progressions, which build in momentum (‘The Listening Surround’) and fall back into ambient pools (‘Country Of True Wonder’). It’s undoubtedly “one-note” but in a classical sense that expands and contracts contently in the background. Was there room for Near the Parenthesis to add more conflict amid the beautiful elements at play? Of course, but then I might not have listened to it in a state of hypnosis all year.