Midori Hirano’s music creates vast sonic expanses from small emotions. Her work distills entire narratives through careful sound design and gentle nudges into bite-size ambiance. With Soniscope, Hirano weaves twisting paths out of thin air, turning beautiful atmospheres laden with piano, harp, electronics, and other devices into piles of silver dust. From the opening notes of “Missing Night” to the last breath of “White Sand,” Soniscope is magical.
I’m obsessed with the backstory to Soniscope involving Hirano using a photograph of Jizo statues as a jumping-off point for these personal sonic narratives. Inside these poignant aural landscapes, mysteries and drama unfold in minutes. With the help of the incredible Atsuko Hatano, “Collapsing Planet” is suspended with tense wire, the resonating strings flicker in the distance as the world falls apart. Hirano’s piano notes sting, the weight of the moment growing with each breath. Rife with fear and resignation, “Collapsing Planet” hurts until it lets go.
Finding consolation in stealthier hideouts like the rhythmic push of “Phantom Train” or the ethereal simplicity of “White Sands,” Hirano’s vulnerability wordlessly sings. On the latter, arpeggiated piano passages swim through soft reverb, searching the memory banks for the tiniest carefree moments. As the notes coil skyward, an effervescent snake of remembrances shed the emotional anchors that tie us to the ground.
Soniscope is personal yet broad. Hirano’s stories are everyone’s stories. They’re not carbon copies, but this wide range of emotional storytelling through sound invites anyone listening to share their experience, to connect. Whether it’s the cascading piano stares of “Void” or the lush expanse of harp and electronics on “Inside,” Soniscope memorializes each gentle embrace before it disappears.
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