The Spinners

Night Piece (Shugo Tokumaru, 2004)

In Folk, Janina Vistan, Rex Baylon on April 12, 2010 at 6:12 am

Shugo Tokumaru’s aptly titled debut, Night Piece, is a mood album that captures the beauty of twilight. The ten acoustic folk-jazz tracks that encompass the album’s 23-minute runtime run the gamut of emotions from elation to melancholic; and while listening, one can’t help but tap one’s feet and enjoy its feel.

Tokumaru builds his aural universe out of the most mundane things: guitar, flute, drums, bells, vocals and digital samples. But unlike so many of his contemporaries, Shugo does not drown his songs in unneeded digital tampering. Each instrument he plays can be crisply heard, lending the songs a density that would have been absent if he had chosen to heavily manipulate the tracks.

Tokumaru’s deft touch lends the album a fragility that one doesn’t see in some debuts. Instead of trying to wow the listener with the velocity or volume of his playing, Shugo opts to play in a more subtly nuanced manner, making the listener pay attention to the gentle melodies that he crafts. And whereas neophyte acts might try to bludgeon the listener with noise, Tokumaru pauses between each song as he moves from one chord to another or switches from one instrument to the next.

Simply put, Night Piece translates the tranquil stillness of the evening into a tender pop debut.

– Rex Baylon

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