Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

IN REVIEW: Chihei Hatakeyama - VOID XVII


Label: White Paddy Mountain

Much like Chihei Hatakeyama’s earlier release of 2018’s Afterimage, VOID XVII presents us with sounds and abstract imagery that glow subtly across an undefined expanse. As the name suggests, VOID XVII looks to the formless, whereas Afterimage had within it the subjectivity of the performer. VOID XVII can be understood to occupy the spaces in between, whether that be the space between the physical (objects and air molecules) or the ethereal (thoughts and memories). 

Ambient music is useful in its ability to reduce these elements and states of being onto the same plane. Continuing this line of thought, the idea of ‘the void’ is a non sequitur - inevitably any conceptualisation of ‘nothing’ will be made of something. VOID XVII speaks to that fact, embodying what conceptually is beyond what we can experience. 

So what is it and why do it? Hatakeyama ascribes the notion of the void as the humanly imperceptible order or connection of things. This could be as much a belief system as anything else, many call this god, others call it karma, enlightenment or the divine. Reading Trappist Monk, Thomas Keating’s obituary (who died aged 95 on 25th October, 2018), he dedicated his life to contemplative prayer and the power of silence. He saw this as the only way to god, citing St John of the Cross who said: “God’s first language is silence.” 

Whatever belief system the listener carries, VOID XVII dramatises the relationship to our sense of the self and the unknown. Silence is a contrivance in that it is not something we ever really experience. Much like ‘nothing’, its existence is debatable in that it exists outside the realm of human perception. Instead, it is an ideal that we strangely have such a clear notion of. Therefore, characterising these ideas with sound is a useful way to contemplate them, when immersed in the music or listening to the sound of a room, it’s as if we enter a collective portal of shared experience - a way to remember. AG

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