From the environs of Tokyo, Satomimagae weaves subtle songs for guitar, voice and noise, propagating variant folk strains that flicker between organic and mechanistic, personal and environmental, warm and cool. Satomi’s latest offering, and first via RVNG Intl., is Hanazono, meaning flower garden. With this tribute to everyday mysticism—that sense of pure and private wonder excited by a stone, a river, or winds—she fuses her interests in free play and ensemble music with the private worlding of solitary sound-making, developing a work of both simplicity and intricacy, a veritable biosphere of unfiltered artistry.
Satomi’s artistic journey emanates from her introduction to the guitar in middle school. An instant, obsessive connection with the instrument led to private teenage experimentations with songwriting, in part influenced by an old delta blues music her father had brought back in tape and CD capsules from the US. The introduction of a computer to her modest set up enabled Satomi to augment these songs with more elements, and shortly after, her solo explorations became buoyed by a love of ensembles. Playing bass guitar in bands while studying molecular biology at university, a verve for being amongst varied sounds intersected with a passion for nature and the creatures which inhabit it.
During this time, Satomi’s listening habits broadened as she became immersed in the more experimental and vocal-free zones of ambient music, electronic music and techno. With a freer perspective on her earlier song-based experimentations, the artist acquired a sampler and began playing solo shows at clubs and cafes in Japan, intertwining her voice and guitar writings with layerings of noise, conceived of as an additional instrument, in a live setting. Satomimagae, a fusing of her first and surname, became an official character through which her singular folktronic ruminations were channeled.
Satomimagae’s first album, awa (2012), a compendium of these early ambient folk syntheses, was equally an exercise in lo-fi / DIY self recording techniques. With Koko (2014), her sophomore offering, she sought an understated, live performance impression, and a cooling down of the warm, pastoral energies familiar in folk traditions. Next, Kemri (2017) balanced out this effect, inspired as it was by a stronger sense of the human, conveyed through more ample chords and rhythms. The label White Paddy Mountain and the influence of its director, Chihei Hatakeyama, allowed Satomimagae to develop her conceptual leanings in a studio environment, although the self-made origin of her writing and recording processes continued to radiate through the work.
In Hanazono, the addition of electric guitar and bird calls from Hideki Urawa, who mixed the album into its self-contained sphere, cross-pollinates with Satomi’s minute vision of childlike enchantment. The intuitive visual accompaniments of Satomi’s sister Natsumi, whose work has adorned all of her albums and her website, further elucidates the artist’s dream of nature’s mingling elements, hand-made and machine-made elements, with an environmental woodblock print that operates like a window into her other-world.