The work of Masako has always been one that creates wonderful images and vistas within the mind, her last album Underwater Whisperer manifested a whole new reality of tone and sound for me. The good news is she is back in 2020 with a brand new offering entitled Hidden Flowers, and it is one very beautiful musical ride indeed.
We start with the passionate colourful and uplifting opus of Harajuku Memoir. This piece was inspired by a fashion town in Tokyo Japan and is the perfect launch pad for our sojourn within the realms of this latest release.
As soon as I started listening to this glorious album, it became very evident that here is a release packed with a beautiful depth and subtle textures, and such a blissful sense of sereneness; this much can certainly be said for the offering Age of Flowers, the smooth performance on the piano is translucent in its creation, and one of the most attractive pieces off the release.
Sounds of the ocean courtesy of Tom Eaton start our journey through the track Acadia. I can see that this one will go onto be one of my personal favourites off the album, Masako’s performance is so soothing, and the inclusion of brass supremo Jeff Oster was a master stroke. If this national park is as beautiful as the music that portrays it, it would certainly be something to see.
The energies rises slightly on this next offering entitled Remember the Rainy Day. How I wish we could have one or two of these during this long hot summer, however the country of my birth has rainy days relentlessly, and this track would be the perfect backdrop for one of those afternoons, watching the endless rain fall from grey laden clouds.
This next piece felt so familiar to me, Blossom River is just so beautiful it is possible that it touched so many halcyon moments from my life. Rivers are an emotive subject and of course an artistic well of plenty, the flute and piano performances bring forth amazing images of coloured petals floating down stream. Masako has created one very stylish track here; it is a multi-instrumental composition of natural outstanding beauty.
The half way juncture finds us Observing M31, this light and effervescent composition of great clarity is utterly stunning, and contains the work of the artists Eugene Friesen and Premik Russell Tubbs. The natural energies of this song is truly something to behold, and perhaps this could also be the first time we have heard an arrangement dedicated to the galaxy of Andromeda, whatever, this must have been a fun piece to have created and performed.
We have now taken a tentative musical step into the second half of the album, and as we do so we come across a charming narrative to explore entitled Forgiving. Masako’s creation of ambience is superb, and adding in the soothing vocals of Noah Wilding we have a truly soulful composition to enjoy.
I had a feeling about this track before I had even played it, my instincts were right, Eternal Bliss is a sun kissed offering that creates such a wonderful fluent sense of forevermore to enjoy. Masako’s piano manifests such a sparkling resonance, and when one adds the violin of Charlie Bisharat into the mix you have musical heaven.
The delightful minor major start on this next composition entitled Southbound Flyway may well become another life time favourite of mine by the artist. There is a sense of reflection in what is a powerful piece, one that once more contains Jeff Oster. I adored Masako’s performance here, one that seemed to be bathed in nature and flight, like watching a flock of birds flying south for the winter. Thankfully for me, it is the longest piece off the album at just shy of seven and a half minutes long.
We now find ourselves in the deeper reaches of this musical pool of delights, and as we float along we are gifted a composition to enjoy entitled Suddenly Cherry Blossoms. Masako manifests energies of respect and appreciation in a composition that is at times quite emotive, but in a positive way.
There is something to be said for this time of year, as we listen to Winter People I’m mindful of being so grateful for it, I live in an extremely hot climate, so a month of cool weather is much appreciated in January. Artistically winter offers much up for the musician to work with, and clearly the artist revels in this season, as this beautifully fluent arrangement and piano performance radiated a true warmth and passion all of its own.
Our last track is dedicated to a fascinating place I have yet to see, I came close on a brief visit to New York once, but had no time to spend walking the Central Park Retreat. Masako is leaving us with a vast performance that takes in colours, shades and shadows of a day in the park. Her performance seems to beautifully pick up on the constant energies of people going about their daily business in this beautiful area, in a splendid ending piece indeed.
It is so good to see Masako back with such a textured and beautifully played album, the multi-instrumental nature of the release is craft-fully manifested to give us a collection of utterly transfixing compositions. I would dare to say this is her best work so far, it is an album that seems to drift along with a loving intent. Masako must be one of the most fluent and creative story tellers of her genre and her day, and Hidden Flowers is a total gem of an album to be admired and played endlessly.