Auand/Jazz Engine CD AU5023

Luca Benedetto (trumpet, keys); Christian Russano (guitars, electronics); Marco Bellafiore (double bass, electronics); Gabriele Luttino (drums, marimba, glockenspiel, electronics)

Recorded at Bombanella Soundscapes, Maranello, Modena, Italy, June 30 and July 6, 2021

The principal focus and obligation of Satoyama’s music have always been the health of our environment, the wellness of the planet.

Their imaginative approach to the music itself makes it hard to categorise: Ambient? Classical? Improv? Jazz? Rock?

It doesn’t matter, but what does is the tale that it tells and the notion of Sinking Islands quite clearly refers to rising sea levels and the effects that will have across the globe.

The title of each song on the disc bears the name of an actuality, a place that will sink if sudden changes are not applied: Kiribati, Palau, Tuvalu and to us Westerners, the more familiar Venice.

The name Satoyama is a Japanese reference to agricultural land and its diverse, ecological uses.

Quite naturally, the overall effect of the music is a feeling of distress and foreboding.

This river of surreal sounds is pensive and in spite of its weighty poignancy, there is still an elemental syrupiness, a smack of optimism to counterbalance the melancholy of the trumpet and its yearning sentiments.

This music is not aimed at instantaneous ingestion – it needs recurrent audition as it contains elements such as frequent rhythmic changes, periodic and quite lengthy silences, the trumpet singing fragments against an electronic soundscape, the double bass plucking its way through a scary landscape, melodious sections turned suddenly dark and gloomy.

Satoyama claim that “We worked on this record in a collective way, starting from small musical ideas; these have been discussed, elaborated, modified and made more “ours”, in such a way that the musical contribution of each of us was in perfect balance with that of the others, with the sole purpose of achieving a shape and a sound that would satisfy everyone.”

Which happily parallels the philosophy behind the project.

Reviewed by Ken Cheetham