If you’re familiar with 2013’s ‘Until The End of Time’, you may have been witness to the undercurrent of colour in Hiroshi Watanabe’s music, but by no means would you have been thinking about stripping it back. Yet here we are with an album that has found another layer. By mistake? I very much doubt it. ‘Less Time Until The End’ works perfectly, without any of the beats that were present before, and now stands on its own as Kompakt’s latest ambient offering in the midst of the more notorious Pop Ambient 2014.
Maybe it’s because I’ve come into this relationship without a great deal of listens on the original version. Revisiting it now, I have no excuse as to why – it’s brilliant. But this ‘beatless’ version is in every way just as good, if not better.
The start, is slow. “Smile” is perhaps the one track from the previous album that sounds much better with beats – but it sits nicely as an intro into what’s to come.
‘Sky Is The Limit” and “I’m Leaving Home” immediately envelope you into dusk over city lights with calm twinkling sounds, and a sense of intensity brought to life through swirling synths. The laws of a ‘beatless’ album are broken straight away in one track, with thuds of bass, but just enough to entice and tease the former lives of these big, complex techno tracks.
“Run Through The Road In The Fog” stands alone, with hypnotising patterns, strings and keys which overlap, dodge and melt into one another, whilst “Behind My Life” takes a lesson from Thomas Fehlmann – notorious Kompakt sounding synths wrapped in Kaito space and expansiveness. ‘Dear Friends’ is just plain and simple addictive.
This record is packed full or colourful journeys, built around subtle melodies and lush synths. It’s albums like this that helped me appreciate ambient music in the first place. Coming from an electronic background, it isn’t until you strip back some of the more complex productions that you realise the real value of a piece – the purist iterations and the beauty of simplicity that form many of today’s great musical journeys. Emotion, which was once partly hidden, is given the space and time to express itself.