Kaori Åström is a composer and songwriter originally from Japan, currently based in California, US. She started playing piano at the age of four and composing at the age of 9, under the supervision of renowned Japanese composer Ms.Yoshiko Katsunaga. Kaori came to the US to attend the Berklee College of Music as a World Scholarship recipient in music composition. After learning Classical, Jazz, Contemporary, Minimal, Ambient and Rock, she is now focused on writing music for motion pictures. Her music has been featured on Discovery Channel and TV shows such as X-Factor.
Her latest project “Songs for Airports” is a musical vision inspired by airports. Music is commonly known to be a language…a universal one at that; meaning that we can all understand and interpret music. And there lies the crux of the matter, our individual interpretations of music is highly dependent on how our own senses perceive the inflection, progression and modulation of the musical notes we hear. Hence the complexity of an entire musical arrangement affects each listener in various ways. Anybody can tell you what a piece of music is meant or intended to mean, but never what that music actually means to you. Therefore I absolutely detest being told what the music is intended to mean or why it was written. The music should tell me that, not the composer, not the arranger, not the performer…nor the producer – just the music. If it has the power to speak to me, it will! If anyone needs to tell me more that usually means they’re not convinced the music will!
Though the “Songs for Airports” title, plain gave it away – by error, and before listening to the music – I read on Kaori Åström’s website how she describes the music on her album, says Kaori: “I have a very special feeling towards planes and airports. It’s such a surreal experience to fly thousands of feet above the ground and look down on earth. In ancient times people believed that gods were living in the world above the clouds and we are now able to see the world our ancestors could only dream about. Each song is composed for scenes that take place in an airport. I have traveled in North America, Europe, and Asia and I found that each airport had its own colorful uniqueness. I tried to incorporate the elements of each of these different airports into the songs. The main purpose of the project is to provide a quiet, peaceful and minimalistic musical moment for anyone who needs it.”
I totally disregarded everything I read and quickly went straight to listening to the album. And I was amazed!
There is a simplicity to Kaori’S solo piano and minimal orchestral works that overlay great emotion and tenderness; she gives ‘flying’ and ‘airports’ an almost elevated spiritual sensitiveness through her playing that totally connects with my experiences. However Kaori’s true accomplishment in each arrangement is in letting her musical phrases grow and change – becoming more emotional in content and space. The musical pieces however, do not become more complex or layered in sound, but only deeper in meaning. They take you on a journey that seems to always wind up…within the heart. And leave you there, to rest, for a while…then they move on.
I like the minimalist composers (such as Philip Glass), as I find that it is the very simple melodies that best carries the music forward, not the complex interplay of rhythms. Usually with such spare music, there is a danger that it may quickly become boring. I have not found that to be the case with “Songs for Airports”. Kaori Åström transits through various scenes of constant variation on her simple ‘airport’ theme, and it works perfectly in engaging my attention. From the opening track “Departure” to the closing “Lobby”, I don’t know how many times I have listened to this record. And it gets me every time. This is an album, and composer, well worth knowing!