Ambient electronic music creates introductions to new realities, using the rawness of its emotions to encourage listeners to make connections within themselves. Michiru Aoyama’s music embodies this essence, transporting and transcending through creations that are made to flow with the natural world, bring peace to the mind, and inspire healing. A piano player since he was 3 years old, his love for rock music was transformed by the work of artists like Alva Noto and Christian Fennesz who expressed unique aspects of electronic music through beautiful sounds. By discovering music that represented nature while also creating a feeling of space, the future of Michiru’s life as a musician was forever changed.
From his meditation practice, Michiru finds his inspiration, discovering the stillness where the sound begins to shine. Blending an appreciation for the mathematical elements of computers with the beauty of Earth’s natural wonders, Michiru Aoyama creates music that captures the individuality of humans and nature, resulting in sounds that have never been heard before.
On the website of his label bullflat38, he shares more of his thoughts on computer music today:
With the computer specifications of 10 years ago, one could only manage a considerable alteration – far from what we might call physical.
It was something akin to spilling paint.
Now, however, things are different. There are countless canvases, paints, and other coloring materials, and the physical manipulation of sound has become possible.
This means that one ought to be able to use that technology to make entirely new music, the likes of which have not been heard before. The general public’s impression of electronic music may be that it is cold, or somewhat inhuman.
I’d like to be able to encounter a lot of music that changes that impression.
This philosophy and approach has inspired listeners from around the world and drew the attention of Mango Alley’s A&R Director Alex Golovanov. In addition to numerous appearances on the MA Summer Chillout Compilation series, he also released a series of albums that pushed the boundaries of underground electronic music. And there is still more coming in 2020.
As Alex shares:
His first album “18 – 0308 All” is a total experiment. We’ve never released anything like it before on MA (I don’t think any of progressive house label did), we had no idea about how to do it, how to promote it, what visuals should it have, nothing. All we knew is that we were very inspired by the weirdness and the beauty of Michiru’s music. So we decided to make this release as personal and intimate as possible. All the photos used in the album cover and booklet are taken by Michiru, they’re raw, unprofessional, yet they captivate something he’s been inspired with, so it all starts to make sense and gives you a better understanding of his music.
It’s been a pleasant surprise, but the first album was really well met by the fans and we could call it a success, so we decided there will be more longplays by Michiru on MA in the future. By the end of 2019, Michiru came up with a different kind of sound and technique, so it was a good time to wrap up the year with a beautiful new album, “Flat Lake”.
In contast to raw and almost untouched “18 – 0308 All”, there was a complex and thoughtful post-production work made for “Flat Lake” release. So all the post-production, finalizing and mastering for the album was made by Aeron Aether at his newly opened Aetheron Audio. Aeron was an easy pick for me – we’ve known each other for a long time, he remixed for MA and for my releases on other labels, we collaborated on several tracks, and he’s a known expert in sophisticated chillout/electronica sound. All this ended up in a more mature and exquisite album that surely shows Michiru’s development as an artist and evolution of his sound. The cover art also designed using Michiru’s photos, but this time it looks more “polished” and standardized.
At FRISKY we love to showcase the experimental, ever-evolving music which encourages deep listening, so it is with great pleasure that we introduce Michiru Aoyama as our CHILL Featured Artist. Listen to his exclusive 2-hour set live on Wednesday, March 4th at 2 PM EST [convert timezone] or listen anytime after on-demand with FRISKY Premium.
Get to know more about Michiru Aoyama while you tune in:
Photos by Michiru Aoyama
What first started your passion for ambient electronic music?
I got into this type of music through Ryuichi Sakamoto and then Christian Fennesz, I think. Ryuichi Sakamoto has been making collaborative works with electronic musicians such as Alva Noto, Fennesz, and Christopher Willits in recent years, and I felt like these albums presented new kinds of musical possibilities. I’ve enjoyed listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s piano music since I was young, and it often made me feel different kinds of emotions than what I felt when listening to J-pop. The way I listened to ambient/noise music was different to how I listened to J-pop, and this had a big influence on the way I thought as well.
How I felt didn’t have anything to do with what we humans call “liking” or “disliking” something. It’s normal for human life to have ups and downs, but in the past I’ve thought that that isn’t really looking at the world how it is. Our world isn’t just for humans, of course. There are also the worlds of plants, animals, stones, and the sky, sea and mountains. It’s true that feelings like “like” and “dislike” enrich our lives. There was a time in my life when I was sick and tired of music that was clearly centered around love & romance. You could say that my fascination with electronic music was born from that.
The idea that sounds that didn’t exist 100 years ago could be created through close relation to the power of our modern civilization (i.e. high-performance computers) was appealing to me. I was excited at the fact that I was listening to sounds that had never existed before. Sounds such as sine waves and white noise, however, have a relatively low cultural appreciation; I think they just sound like unpleasant noises for a lot of people. I don’t really like these kinds of sounds, either.
It was Alva Noto and Fennesz who expressed them as beautiful sounds – to me, it was like listening to some kind of wonderful phenomena. Mathematical elements are a fundamental part of musical composition, but computers take care of that for us as well. Software such as Max/MSP in particular uses numerical formulae to make sonic systems, which is where I think the strength of the music is also produced.
I was drawn to the fact that Fennesz’s electronic music contains almost no uncomfortable sounds, and how closely it resembles our natural environment. It’s music that functions as a response to things like animals, plants, stones, sand and the sky, rather than human-centric “likes” and “dislikes”. This is due to a number of factors – the fact that it lacks an exact melody being the most prevalent. Melody acts as a kind of statement in music, but Fennesz avoids even something as fundamental as this; it’s simply about feeling the space, and that’s it. Like how the sound of the ocean doesn’t have a melody. I think music like this, that doesn’t sound like it’s imposing on anyone, is the best kind of music.
When did you begin writing your own music?
When I was in my second year of high school. At the beginning, I was writing songs for the band and making rhythms. Like this: https://bullflat38.bandcamp.com/album/michiru-aoyama &https://bullflat38.bandcamp.com/album/nicole
What are the biggest changes in your production style or technique since you first began?
I started playing the piano since I was 3. In JHS, I started playing the guitar and dreamed of becoming a rock guitarist. In HS, I joined the school band, and I started creating music for our band. It is kind of like Bossa Nova and country music. When I was in university, I bought a laptop and used it to create movie soundtracks. When I was 23, I went to a live concert of Austrian guitarist, Christian Fennesz. I was so moved by his music. It was the starting point of my music.
Are there particular emotions that are most prominent in your music?
Who are some artists that you love to listen to?
Aphex Twin, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Fennesz, etc
What qualities do you think make for exceptional chillout music?
I think nostalgia is important.
What is most important for you to communicate through your music
Peace of mind and healing.
Where do you find yourself getting the most inspiration from?
I go to a temple in the early morning of the weekend.
Then, I practice the meditation in Zen Buddhism for about 3 hours.
The heart becomes quiet, gradually like the water surface which is not choppy, but still.
All environmental sound and non-sound, begin to have a meaning to me.
Soon the sound begins to shine.
What can you tell us about the mix you made for FRISKY?
I’ve never been a DJ and was really uneasy about making a two-hour mix. However, I enjoyed it very much when I made it this time, and there were various discoveries. Frisky Radio has so many really great artists, I think it’s a great honor to be able to publish my work.
ToneShift by TJ Norris
Broken into two untitled pieces that run just under twenty minutes each per side comes Brilliant Days from Japanese musician/producer Michiru Aoyama. Through and through this is a jewel-toned ambient record with a pace that rings of other traditional music from Japan, mostly meaning that it takes time and care to unfold, to blossom. These are guitar string manipulations that sound like a harp, and may as well be chimes and static as the sounds emanating are powerfully induced by an austere softness that quenches the tired mind.
After about ten minutes the piece fades out and re-emerges after about a minute with a more robust, saucer-shaped drone, hovering and playing on the in/out of depth of field. It’s a very shaped sound with edges that are fuzzy and breaking free. And yet other transitions are made hereafter, stretched chords are added as are other sparse percussive effects with supplemental reverb. Aoyama’s sound is bright without being too lightweight, even when it dips into its more pensive moments.
When you flip the wax platter the listener will be in for a continuation of delightful textural effects that have a seemingly more ‘live’ feel, perhaps it’s a bit of open air mics and static electricity? Any which way you hear this will be up for personal interpretation – but clearly Brilliant Days is a sweet ambient surprise this season. It has tonalities that uplift, even as they are breaking apart, in this way you begin to understand the beauty in its organic nature of erosion, of change. Playing on the soft and jagged sides of rhythm and its tendency for natural breaks, of mimicking the way in which the Earth surrounds us and constantly shifts – especially in our times of major climate challenges.
Melody and atonality, so disparate, yet Aoyama pairs the paradox. Though in total I can appreciate quiet dips in the program, though upon re-emergence they do seem to be a fairly new vignette, like a new rack rather than a straight long-player. It doesn’t disrupt as much as points the ear in a new direction. This record is all about tonal coloration, exploration of timbre, sound width and near transcendental meditation as we get into the weeds of the final half dozen minutes. And just then things shift once more to a rush of static that sounds like a dozen amplified ice skates hitting the surface in layers, slashing, sloshing, it is quite a linear set of enigmatic effects. And slowly fades, end scene.
＜SHIMMERING MOODS＞＜ORGANICINDUSTRIES＞などの主要アンビエントレーベルからもリリースのある邦人アンビエントプロデューサーMICHIRU AOYAMAによる、非常に丁寧なつくりに胸をうたれるアンビエント。繊細な電子音の重なりが儚く、幼い頃の思い出を呼び覚ますようなノスタルジックな作品です。
I’d not heard of Michiru Aoyama until I stumbled across the absolutely gorgeous Brilliant Days, his new LP for Californian label Mirae Arts. Shimmering with refracted light, Brilliant Days is best listened to on a brilliant day, basking in the sun, amidst the trees and the birds. The curious sounds, beautiful looping melodies and more traditional guitar work are the perfect accompaniment for a stroll through your nearest park/woods/forest - wherever you can escape to. Absolutely one of my favourite releases of 2018, and the vinyl is still very much available - go grab it whilst you still can!
繊細なエレクトロニカ作品！アメリカのカリフォルニアから新たに出現してきた最新レーベルMirae Artsのセカンド・リリースは、Organic IndustriesやSomehow Recordings、Shimmering Moods Recordsなどでも作品を発表する鎌倉のクリエイターMichiru Aoyamaによるニュー・シングルがリリース！気持ち良いアンビエントなムードで作りこまれたエレクトロニカ・トラック！非常に芸術性高くまとめ上げられたクオリティ豊かな作品！オススメです！！
Lykkelig in 金沢
アメリカはカリフォルニアの2018年に立ち上げられた新興レーベル『Mirae Arts』の第2弾は、鎌倉在住のアンビエント・プロデューサー“Michiru Aoyama”（青山ミチル）による3年振りのニュー・アルバム！
New tone（Akie）in 大阪
邦人アンビエントアーティストMichiru Aoyamaの「Brilliant Days」が、カリフォルニア新興レーベル〈MIRAE ARTS〉から到着。電子音の粒子が呼び起こすノスタルジック・アンビエント。歪みとフィルターが精妙に施されたギターハーモニクスとシンセサイザー。
坂本龍一がナビゲーターを務める「Radio Sakamoto」のオーディションに三度入選、映画音楽の制作にも数多く携わってきた青山ミチル。アンビエント優良レーベル〈TAÂLEM〉〈ORGANIC INDUSTRIES〉にも作品を残す鎌倉シーサイドが生んだ奇才の最新アルバムが登場。20分弱の無題の長編トラック2曲で構成された「Brilliant Days」は、まさにその名が示す通り、輝かしい日々を想起させるノスタルジックな仕上がり。浮遊感のあるギターの旋律を基調にしたアンビエント。電子音の歪みと軋むノイズが重なることで、遠い過去を想起するときのような朧げな美しさを再現。200枚限定プレスの重量盤ダウンロードコード付き、アートワーク含め本当に綺麗な一枚。(sample1と2はA面、sample3はB面を録音してます。)
Slow Breathing Circuit
Japanese ambient music-maker Michiru Aoyama comes from the idyllic town of Kamakura, outside Tokyo. He’s been releasing music for over a decade, getting props from Ryuichi Sakamoto and contributing to many noteworthy labels’ catalogues along the way.
His latest album, Brilliant Days, is the sophomore vinyl release for young California label Mirae Arts. Over two stunning (and lengthy) tracks, Aoyama weaves together vaporous clouds of ambient guitar and bright, ethereal electronic noise. Save this for one of your “brilliant days,” one of those days that transcends the stress, routine, and errands, the hurried turning of minutes into hours, and lets you simply live for a change.
MICHIRU AOYAMA - BRILLIANT DAYS (LP by Mirea Arts)
Here we have a new label, run by Elbert Choi, who is originally from South Korea and now living in
El Cerrito, California. The first release was by Seraphim Rythm (not reviewed in these pages) and
now the second record has been released, with music by Michiru Aoyama. He's been active since
2010 and has some releases on Somehow Recordings, Organic Industries, Shimmering Moods
Records, Nama Recordings, Tedio Recs and the only thing I heard, which was his 3"CDR by
Taalem, which served as a first, brief introduction. On this LP, his first outing on vinyl, he calls both
sides 'Untitled', which may suggest there is only one piece per side, but that is not the case. The
first side has two pieces and the second side has four pieces, so effectively six different pieces.
Like with that Taalem release, I really have no idea what Aoyama does to create his music, but I
have very strong suspicions that it is all made with that little box you can also check your e-mail
and update your Facebook status, the laptop. Whatever he feeds the gremlins inside the laptop is
unknown for the listener. My best guess is that a guitar is never far away, but that is merely a guess,
but it is a guess based on what Mirae Arts say on the Bandcamp site; "Michiru’s signature guitar
harmonics are treated with serene electronic filters and met with youthful under-layers of electronic
experimentations and glitchy backdrops". And glitchy backdrops there are surely plenty of those.
Cold, sparkling, crackling, like broken twigs on trees going about in the wind, but with a bit of delay
and reverb to make a slightly more robust sound. All along the guitar spaces out, fed through loops,
more reverb, and landing on a bed of lots of overtones that make this is all quite warm and lush. A
fine pairing of something that is maybe 'sweet' (the drones) and 'angular' (the glitches). It is music
that reminded me of the best of Oval in their more ambient days, post '94 Diskont'; it's not always as
delicate as some of the other glitch drone artists do, and that's what I like about this record. It is
within something you know and love, but also has it's something of it's own voice, but it a bit
stranger and alien than you would expect, so there is some surprise in there as well. This is
certainly something that you need to seek out something new in the vast universe of warm
glitch drones. (FdW)
––– Address: https://miraearts.bandcamp.com/
We are proud to showcase more Japanese talent in a brand new EP by Michiru Aoyama. Known for his haunting ambient tracks and his sense for art in all kind of forms he is definitely an artistic force to be reckoned with. Now he makes his debut at our imprint with his well-crafted EP called 'Loop'. Michiru delivers stunning track with intriguing guitar riffs, atmospheric pads beautiful melodic delays the track quickly turns in a melodic masterpiece.
Andrew Odd aka Timewave shows a totally different take on the original where deep space vibes and dynamic atmospheric pad layers dominate by rhythmic percussive drums and deep bass-line giving this remix distinctive character.
Moshimos showcases a memorable piece of art with a beautiful atmospheric Soundscape sound design that will will intrigue the listener to a whole new emotional level.
about my track「ストレートディテール」
Michiru Aoyama’s glorious new track (Google Translate is failing thus far on this one’s title) is a sweeping, four-minute expanse of sonic cloud formations that turn round and round inside themselves. Glimmers surface and then become the foregrounded sound, only for another theme to pierce the veil and, at a slow pace, subsume everything that had preceded it. The piece isn’t grounded so much as tied to ocean imagery, for amid the haze is the sort of creaking that comes from a taut rope on a boat.
about my track 「www」
The four minutes of “Www” by Michiru Aoyama barely surface above the level of white noise. There is the constant dead-signal churn of nano-particulate sound, a cloud of tiny brittle things made soft through motion and spaciousness. Within them exists a deep, breath-like hum. Perhaps it is the wind that moves them. Perhaps it is the result of their motion. Perhaps it is some entity they mask. Perhaps it is the entity they become when grouped en masse. Whatever the fiction, the result is an encompassing sonic space.
about my track「パラレル」
The white noise could be static or surf. The hum could be hushed vocals or a deep sine wave. The piece is “ãƒ‘ãƒ©ãƒ¬ãƒ«” — which I believe translates to parallel. It’s a track by Michiru Aoyama, who is based in Kamakura, Japan, and it is a blissful slice of determined ambient music. Tonally is is consistent and remote, the sort of thing that requires a fair amount of concentration to accept as foreground listening. What distinguishes it as a composition is how it unfolds, in particular a pause about a minute in and then again about a minute before the five-minute piece comes to a close. Both quiet moments remind the ear of the sonic content, waking you up to the atmospherics just as they get underway and just as they begin their slow fade to silence.
Norman Records Laurie
Shimmering Moods, the most honestly-named record label on the planet. No sooner had I hit the play button than I was greeted by a calming ambient swell, but what’s this? Some very interesting shimmer here, like a bath full of watery insects with an incense stick burning. Bliss.
Bliss is the word for Aoyama’s music, as you’d expect from ‘Moods, it’s all twinkly and carefully layered. Soft noise washes up and down the spectrum doing its best to mimic waves on a beach, which is coincidentally featured in the artwork. Literal ambient? Why not, journalists coin all sorts of bullshit to describe the weird thing we call music. Of course, you’ve got the indistinct melodic swells that ambient records can’t be released without, as well as some fuzz to counteract it. I’m trying to dismiss this in my head as ‘just another ambient thing’ but it’s just too peaceful so I’ll give up on that.
Disk union Tokyo shop
鎌倉在住のアンビエントコンポーザーMICHIRU AOYAMAによる4th.アルバム「In a Dream」が登場。日々の生活の中で疲弊し逆立った神経を一本一本トリートメントして行くように慈悲深く、時に畏敬の念をも抱かせる筋の通った清麗なアンビエント傑作。リラクシンはもちろんメディテーションにも効果的。偶に背筋を正したくなる純粋な音。
Il titolo del brano d’apertura del quarto lavoro sulla lunga distanza di Michiru Aoyama suona un po’ come un manifesto programmatico: “To You, Relax” è insieme una dedica e un suggerimento, ma anche l’evidente finalità estetica dell’artista giapponese musicalmente formatosi a Berlino.Tutte le nove tracce di “In A Dream” perseguono tale intento, attraverso un delicato amalgama di layers sintetici, esili drone e frammenti naturalistici concreti sotto forma di field recordings.L’universo sonoro materializzato da Aoyama appare tuttavia ben distante da una concezione di rilassamento new age, bilanciando invece un saldo carattere organico con la consistenza immateriale di modulazioni ambientali purissime.
Paul (Shimmering Moods Records owner)
Michiru Aoyama is a 29 year old ambient composer from Kyoto. He studied electronic music in Berlin and the result of that journey led him to ambient music. Fast forward a couple of years and the young producer has managed to showcase an understanding of experimental music that rivals that of already established artists in the genre. His most recent piece, which holds the title “In A Dream” will be a true soundtrack for the ambient aficionado worldwide. The album opener To You, Relax, gently leads the listener into a warm and calm world where the noise of everyday life seems too far to notice and too soft to interrupt. Relaxation seems to be the name of the game and Aoyama sounds like a capable game master. Sparse layers of synths are laid on top of gentle drones and waves of field recordings and the result is a wonderfully serene experience. The music is exactly what it should be and nowhere does it feel like it becomes overly ambitious or eclectic, which does wonders for the consistency of the overall sound. Pure, organic sounding ambient music by Michiru Aoyama for Shimmering Moods Records. Highly limited CD, 100 hand-numbered copies with beautiful artwork in a special package with numbered photos.
ROSS DEVLIN (Tyny mix tapes)
In the summer, my Japanese doppelgänger, sporting a slightly different haircut and similar outfit to myself, is sitting in a forest drinking a glass bottle of pop and running his free hand through the grass in a steady rhythm. In the city, the rhythm is created for you and affects your heart rate. It affects the rate of your speech. You find yourself speeding up for no reason, he thinks. Out in the forest, you must create the rhythm yourself. Nature is infinitely random, but only up to a point where it is calculable, and then it is infinitely systematic. Before you find this point, he thinks, you must make sense of the randomness through rhythm. There are fireflies out – some seem very close, and he considers catching one in the now empty pop bottle, which the grass has furled around to clutch like a nest. Fireflies often appear close, but they are always far away. This is the way of all natural things: you can predict their position, and you can predict their momentum, but never both at the same time.
All things can be examined this way.
I have never been to Japan. I would accept an invitation to go without reticence. Japan seems like a country among few where intense, mindless consumption of the “hyperassimilation” way can co-exist with equally intense mindfulness.
Michiru Aoyama is a mindful experimental artist, and he takes into account the uncertainty – the unknowable-ness – of nature when composing. His graphical explanation of ambient music illustrates this perfectly. Some of his music seems frenetic, as simply a imperfect human reaction to the perfect stillness of nature. “ほたる” (“firefly”) is meditative, mindful ambient at its most calculated, with similar intentions of artists like Nicholas Szczepanick and Adam Worthan. Inspired by the patterned language of insects, the song transpires in quiet, slight movements, like the slow wave of a conductor’s hand.
David （No Magic Man Records Owner)
Michiru Aoyama -音は光る-
Michiru Aoyama's "The Sound Is Shining" is one of our favourite discoveries of the year. Another fantastic release from the Organic Industries label, this album is ambience at its best. The record is imbued with a sense of cosmic drift but at times swells with a richness often lacking in ambient music. Simply stunning and highly recommended.
Andre Gansebohm ( Organic Industries Owner)
Michiru Aoyama -音は光る-
Michiru Aoyama visits his temple in the wee hours of morning and meditates until all “sound and non-sound begin to have a meaning” and shine for him. In these eight striking miniatures, he illuminates that meaning for us by melding, in the Zen spirit of forerunner John Cage, artifice, nature and technology.
Similarly perhaps to the feeling experienced while meditating, time passes rapidly. Aoyama first clears the cluttered mind with the exquisitely chiming and rotating “Air of Japan,” before lifting into a series of ambient washes and drones which do indeed dissolve the boundary between the microcosmos and the rest of the galaxy. Some are pure nothingness/everythingness drift, like “Slow Moment” and “Ginga,” some, like “Lake” and “Drop” descend deeply, and one, “A Summer without You,” is so freighted with emotion as to be wrenching. With 音は光る (The Sound Is Shining), Aoyama wordlessly reiterates the categorical Buddhist imperative against a worldview that segregates mind, body and environment.
Timo David Brice (somehowrecordings Owner）
Michiru Aoyama - About Alice -
Having clicked on his website, I instantly enjoyed viewing his webpages and more important, his sounds. Michiuru has produced a beautiful textured album for Somehow which embarks on a journey of short fluxed pieces that have a certain feel of well being. They attract you to the height, then delicately let you go, once you feel you are fully with them.
My favorite track throughout this beautifully scored album, is Invisible, truly atmospheric and full in it's sound. I think Aoyama has big big albums left in his armory, and we at Somehow sincerely hope he moves forward with ease.
Limited copies available at Somehow.
Michiru Aoyama - About Alice - SR53