Sublime, ethereal minimalism: the first drawing together of Hiroyuki Onogawa’s soundtrack compositions, plotting a decade of music for films by cult filmmaker Gakuryū Ishii. ‘Sequenced into an album by Onogawa himself, this retrospective spans a fertile period of collaboration with Ishii, through soundtracks for three remarkable films — August in the Water (1995), Labyrinth of Dreams (1997), and Mirrored Mind (2005) — where the cinema is texturally and sensually imbued with the spiritual, ambient, dreamlike quality of Onogawa’s music. ‘The sound Onogawa conjures for these films is elegant and patient, often spare or essential in form, but saturated in a strange and otherworldly, poetic emotion and atmosphere. Boundaries are crossed between New Age and science fiction, passing through blissfulness, melancholy, and paranoia, towards enchantments of mood and colour.
‘It’s notable that the compositions on this album straddle the millennium, with a fitting mix of divine and uncertain themes. New listeners might hear links to Mark Snow’s work for the X-Files and Millennium, or the soundtracks of certain future-facing and future-fearing Japanese anime or cyberpunk. ‘Onogawa’s music adds great depth and tenor to the sensory experience of the films themselves, but it stands just as strongly as a listening experience on its own terms; a virtuosic example of Ambient that changes in hue when turned in the light. Remarkably, like Ishii’s films, Onogawa’s work has never been widely available outside of fervid underground fan posts, usually sourced from extremely limited and private CDs limited to Japan. ‘This retrospective seeks to remedy that, presenting Onogawa as one of the great composers of the last three decades.