Boomkat Product Review:
Chicago's Kikù Hibino turns in a cascading environmental ambient masterclass, made as a site-specific installation for Lincoln Park Conservatory's Fern Room. RIYL Hiroshi Yoshimura, Midori Takada, or Sugai Ken.
When Kikù Hibino was a young boy, his grandfather introduced him to a baby bird he'd found in the garden amongst the ferns, that no doubt cushioned his fall from a nest above. "Fell to Fern" is his attempt to capture this childlike hope and joy in musical form, initially presented quite fittingly as a four-channel sound installation in Lincoln Park Conservatory's lush Fern Room in Chicago. With rocks and an an indoor lagoon as well as ferns, the 1906-designed room was intended to let visitors see what prehistoric Chicago might have looked like, and Hibino's soundtrack acts as a musical representation of this mood. Using a modular setup alongside a Prophet 6 and Tenori-on, he recorded the sound by hand to capture the animalistic biology of the piece, attempting to mimic the room's ecosystem. The small sequences and rhythms that bubble to the surface are also hand-controlled - Hibino's sonic representation of flying spores, rhizomes and fern leaves themselves.
The piece is accompanied by a special live performance recorded just last month, with Experimental Sound Studio's Alex Inglizian on modular synth, and Hibino on OP-1, Monome and Tenori-on. It's remarkable how different this performance is; the live version is more stylistically kosmische, and while there are shared elements with the original, the overall mood is completely changed. Here Hibino and Inglizian operate more enthusiastically and the original piece's Sugai Ken-like watery minimalism is gone nearly completely, replaced by searing noise, swooping synth strings and washy pads. If you enjoyed Nikolaienko's hypnotic "Nostalgia Por Mesozóica" from earlier this year, "Fell to Fern" is an obvious and fitting companion.