Boomkat Product Review:
Melodramatic, widescreen and brightly lit synth/dream-pop/ambient classical soundtrack styles by London’s Hinako Omori on her 2nd album with fabric club’s Houndstooth - think Kate Bush, Lyra Pramuk, Studio Ghibli scores
“‘stillness, softness…’ explores a new sonic range within Omori’s world of analogue synths – namely, her Prophet ’08, the Moog Voyager and UDO Super 6, an analogue hybrid synthesizer that creates binaural, 3D-simulating sound. The album is darker, more expansive and more noirishly theatrical than her previous work. Whereas Omori’s debut was largely instrumental, here the vocals are front and centre – “it’s more vulnerable,” she nods – as she opens up on themes of dreams versus reality, solitude, reconnecting with who you are and, ultimately, finding strength in yourself.
Omori calls ‘stillness, softness…’ “a collage of experiments” which she then pieced together “like a puzzle”, each song representing a memory room. The end result is seamless, a continuous cycle of 13 vignettes that flow in and out of each other, recorded and written between her bedroom in London and her grandmother’s house in Yokohama, Japan. “It was very DIY,” she laughs. “I was whispering into the microphone because I didn’t want to wake anyone up.”
Omori was born in Japan but grew up in south London and studied sound engineering at the University of Surrey. Her interest in machine music began before that, in college, thanks to a teacher who introduced his class to analogue synthesizers. “It sparked a curiosity in me,” says Omori. “I grew up learning classical piano, and the minute I came across synthesizers for the first time it completely drew me in. With a synth, you get to truly sculpt the sound: it opened up all these endless possibilities for expression that I had never even thought about before.”
After university, she joined the touring bands for both indie musicians and arena acts including EOB, James Bay, KT Tunstall, Georgia and Kae Tempest, the latter of whom Omori still plays with regularly. “I’ve learned so much from those experiences,” says Omori. “If it wasn’t for working with these wonderful artists, I don't think I would have had the confidence to do what I’m doing now.” Her confidence, she says, is still a work in progress, which is partly what the album speaks to. Its title might be ‘stillness, softness…’ but the album is actually about making yourself uncomfortable in order to grow. “It’s about embracing the things that we want to hide away from, and that we feel ashamed of,” she says.”