Originally born in Kyoto, Japan and now based in Berlin, Midori Hirano is a pianist, composer and sound artist who has been blending electronic loops and layers with minimal acoustic piano since 2006. In parallel to her piano-based activities, the musician has also been exploring experimental and ambient soundscapes under the MimiCof moniker. Her 2017 LP Moon Synch delved into new and hypnotic sonic explorations with a modular Buchla synthesiser. Reverting to a more electro-acoustic sound and released on 7 February 2020 as a limited edition of 250 CDs and 450 LPs, Invisible Island is Midori Hirano’s second full-length record for Berlin-based boutique record label Sonic Pieces.

Midori Hirano - Invisible Island (2020)
Midori Hirano – Invisible Island (2020)

A given constant in Midori Hirano’s music is precisely that her sound is continually shifting. It keeps evolving over time as she moves from project to project, either under her own name, as MimiCof or through eclectic collaborations. Released in 2016, Minor Planet was strongly articulated around field recording soundscapes and ethereal electronics whereby filtered keyboard layers kept lurking beneath the surface.

Over the last few years however, acoustic piano has been taking on a much more central role. On Improvisation for Piano in Summer 2018 released digitally on Sydney-based Longform Editions – A Collective for Deep Listening – Midori Hirano stripped back her process to three completely improvised 10 minute long pieces. “Simple, intuitive, and pretty raw” as the pianist puts it, the release perhaps marked a return to a 20th century impressionist style so revered by contemporary modern classical pianists.

Then, her remarked 2019 EP Mirrors in Mirrors for the Australian label Daisart also revolved strongly around piano-based compositions. In that sense, Invisible Island naturally stems from “Improvisation for Piano in Summer 2018” and “Mirrors in Mirrors”.

On Invisible Island, the piano blends seamlessly with processed electronic over eleven new compositions, each with their own unique topography and mood. The piano is subsequently treated (“Vanished Garden”), prepared (“Coil”), strummed (“Invisible Island”), distorted (“November”) and looped throughout amidst a sea of layered ambient textures, static, dissonant drones and beats.

Mostly built around circular and dynamic patterns, the acoustic piano motifs on “Strain”, “Corridor”, “Glass” and the title track magnificently suggest at times Meredith Monk’s oblique piano compositions – all of which often suggest a newly choreographed dance or a vocal performance.

Another minimal chord progression underpins the magnificent “Belong” featuring this time the violin playing of Berlin-based electronic musician and composer Christoph Berg with whom Midori Hirano recently collaborated on his 2019 Tape Anthology Vol. 1.

Invisible Island concludes with the title track, a physical and startling return to reality following a deep and singular plunge into Midori Hirano‘s surreal electro-acoustic soundscape.