Chikara Aoshima | Interview | Re-releases of ‘Close Down’

Uncategorized May 30, 2024

Chikara Aoshima | Interview | Re-releases of ‘Close Down’

Chikara Aoshima, the versatile drummer, composer, and performance artist, recently re-released his acclaimed debut solo album ‘Close Down.’

Originally praised upon its 2012 release by Somehow Recordings, the album features serene electronica, euphoric beats, and ambient melodies, complemented by artwork from Chikara’s father, surrealist painter Saburo Aoshima. Each track showcases Chikara’s artistic evolution, blending tranquil serenity with exhilarating crescendos. Beyond his solo work, Chikara’s illustrious career spans collaborations with DJ Sudo and contributions to CAPCOM’s ‘Shinsekai: Into the Depths’, reflecting his unwavering dedication to artistic exploration. As ‘Close Down’ returns, its timeless relevance speaks to the enduring power of artistic expression.

“I still aim for the listener to experience a cinematic, story-like journey within a single album”

Your debut solo album, ‘Close Down,’ was areleased in 2013. How has the passage of time influenced your perspective on this album, both musically and conceptually?

Chikara Aoshima: I composed this piece over 10 years ago, so my tastes and interests are different now than they were then. Musically, it appears that I favored a brighter tone at that time. Conceptually, I still aim for the listener to experience a cinematic, story-like journey within a single album.

The album cover for ‘Close Down’ features the artwork of your father, surrealist painter Saburo Aoshima. How does this collaboration between visual art and music reflect your creative process and the themes explored in the album?

The artwork used for this album is called “Finland Winter.” I chose this painting from my father’s collection because I felt it resonated well with the sound of the album. I felt a strong connection between the abstract and dreamy quality of the album and the artwork. Since my father is deceased, I am using his paintings for the album artwork to share his work with as many people as possible.

In tracks like ‘Like a Circle’ and ‘Hypnopompic Hallucinations,’ there’s a captivating blend of serene ambience and rhythmic complexity. Can you share some insight into your approach to crafting these intricate soundscapes?

I believe my background plays a significant role here. As both a composer and a drummer, I have a deep understanding of rhythm. Once I establish a BPM, I know how to construct rhythms effectively. Additionally, my proficiency in sound collage is influenced by my father’s abstract painting style. It’s challenging to articulate this process because it’s a sensory experience.

As a drummer, composer, and performance artist, you’ve explored various genres and mediums throughout your career. How does your diverse background influence the sonic palette and experimentation found in “Close Down”?

As I mentioned earlier, I am both a composer and a drummer. Drums are primal and instinctual, while I have a preference for quiet ambient and dreamy sounds. Therefore, ‘Close Down’ serves as a strong expression of my identity.

From your work with Okujou Beat to collaborations with DJ Sudo and contributions to video game scores, your career is marked by versatility. How do these diverse musical experiences inform your solo work, particularly on ‘Close Down’?

The songs on ‘Close Down’ were created chronologically before those other endeavors. In a way, it serves as both a starting point and a foundation for me before branching out into those other careers.

Close Down’ has been described as a journey through “serene shores of electronica” and “bliss-soaked beats.” Can you elaborate on the emotional and thematic landscape you aimed to evoke through this album?

All of the songs on this album were composed while I was living in Boston as a student at the College of Music. Therefore, it is filled with memories and emotions from that time. For example, 1126 Boylston was the address of my apartment, and I collaborated with Alex Baboian, a guitarist I lived with.

Your live performances have ranged from national theatres to industrial venues, showcasing a dynamic range of settings and atmospheres. How does your approach to live performance intersect with the immersive experience of ‘Close Down’?

This may have an impact in terms of scale. For example, the soundscapes of ‘Like a Circle’ and ‘Hypnopomic Hallucinations,’ may seem very grandiose. On the other hand, a homey sense of scale can be found in songs such as 1126 Boylston. Such contrasts in scale may have something to do with my career.

The title track, ‘Close Down,’ seems to encapsulate a sense of finality or closure. What inspired this track, and how does it tie into the overarching narrative of the album?

The piece is inspired by Erik Satie, and shows how the introverted soundscape expands from the second half of the piece.

With tracks like ‘Hakuchumu’ invoking a sense of perpetual development, how do you balance the cyclical nature of music with the desire for progression and innovation in your compositions?

I am not particularly conscious of balance, but I do value the universal and the things that govern it, whether old or new. I believe that my music also embodies such things.

Looking ahead, how do you envision the legacy of “Close Down” within your body of work, and what can listeners anticipate from your future musical endeavors?

As mentioned above, ‘Close Down’ is my starting point, and that fact will never change. I hope that listeners can look forward to the fusion and development of a storybook world of dreamy, abstract ambient sounds and intricate rhythms.

Klemen Breznikar

Chikara Aoshima Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp

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