Francesco Cavaliere & Tomoko Sauvage
Roughly a year ago we had the good fortune to write about one of our favorite albums of 2020, Tomoko Sauvage’s brilliant LP Fischgeist. Now, to our great fortune, she returns with Viridescens, a stunningly beautiful collaboration with Berlin based artist Francesco Cavaliere, issued in a vinyl edition by Marionette. With nods to '80s Japanese ambient and environmental music (Kankyo-Ongaku) giants like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Satoshi Ashikawa, Yoshio Ojima, and Yutaka Hirose, as well as the work of Walter Tilgner, Knud Viktor, and Henning Christiansen, across the album's length, each artist works in perfect harmony, drawing out the other's unique talents and temperaments, coming together across what is easily one of the most visionary, striking, and unique conceptualizations of ambient music that we’ve heard in years.
Few artists could be more perfectly matched than Francesco Cavaliere and Tomoko Sauvage. For the better part of the last 20 years, Cavaliere has woven intimate tapestries of sound from a strikingly singular pallet of processed source material, while during the same period Sauvage has emerged as one of experimental music’s most important contemporary voices, forging a remarkably singular path with a body of performative, sculptural, and recorded work that harnesses the sonorous potential of water conjoined with resonant vessels.
Viridescens, Cavaliere and Sauvage’s first collaborative release, traces its roots to 2017, when the pair joined as a duo for a site-specific performance at Tokyo’s Infra Festival, deploying water, glass, clay, bamboo xylophones, metallophones, and synthesizers to generate a deeply tactile audio-visual environment. Having originally conceived to play Henning Christiansen’s Green Music, before discovering that the work’s score didn’t exist, Cavaliere and Sauvage opted for a more elemental approach, centering themselves around a cabinet of generative possibilities and channeling the color green, allowing it to cast its tinge over their instruments and creative experiments, as well the subsequent work’s references, source material, and influences.
Drawing upon a Chinese myth about a man wearing a green hat, the naming convention of Japanese traffic lights, and other touchstones, each infusing Cavaliere and Sauvage's practice of spontaneous field recording and carefully orchestrated improvisations, the five discrete pieces comprised by Viridescens were largely recorded during 2017, when the pair first joined forces. Central to the body of the album is "≒ AO", the work initially realized at the Infra Festival in Japan, with its themes further advanced by three compositions recorded at Empty Gallery in Hong Kong during that same year.
Tracing through shifting passages of hypnotically tuned rhythms and pulsing tonality, atmospheric ambiences, textural and tonal meetings defined by a profound sense of abstraction, and a minimalist's sense of restraint and space, Cavaliere and Sauvage weave magic every step of the way, binding their journey across the album's length with the presence of water in many forms, dripping, trickling, and washing its way through an imagistic arc that presents the possibilities of ambient music on newly radical and forward-thinking terms.
Completely intoxicating and immersive across from its first sounding to the last, Viridescens is a nothing short of a triumphant debut for the partnership of Tomoko Sauvage and Francesco Cavaliere. Incredibly beautiful and creatively visionary - pressed on 180g vinyl by Marionette and housed in a stunning inside-out uncoated cover with printed inner sleeves - it’s high among our favorite records of 2021, and is not to be missed.