Philip Shiozaki: Lightening of the Dark (Self-Released)

On his debut album, this experimental musician-composer uses only electric guitar and a bit of synthesizer to craft imaginative, impressionist watercolors of sound.

Part of the appeal involves Shiozaki's gentle, minimalist compositions, on which he explores hypnotic patterns and carefully paced structures. He inventively uses unusual guitar-tunings to re-create the sounds of a toy piano, a harpsichord, a bell—even percussion.

The opening track, "Contemplating Quiescence," sounds almost like a DayGlo lullaby, especially with its faux-naive guitar-plucking. A wiggly synth figure in the background can be both playful and enervating, creating an odd contrast that can be disorienting—in a pleasant way or otherwise, depending on your mood.

The most unusual of Shiozaki's sounds are the most attractive. His guitar strumming is generally pleasant, but the most-arresting element in "Part of a Revival" is the almost-anomalous siren sound.

One could argue that Shiozaki's music is alternately shoegazey and new-agey, but either appellation seems reductive. His active imagination, channeled through the looping and layering of atmospheric sounds, produces textures that may remind listeners of guitar-practitioners as varied as avant-garde composer Glenn Branca, Vini Reilly (of the Durutti Column), the late genius Snakefinger and the mighty Sonic Youth.

This music may be too far off the beaten path for the mainstream listener, but Shiozaki shows much promise. Pick up the album at Sacred Machine at 245 E. Congress St., Suite 123.

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