[HOT TRACK]Finding right keys for New Age

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[HOT TRACK]Finding right keys for New Age

"I hope my music brings people back to the good old days, when they had fun with their friends by looking into a kaleidoscope and being amazed by its colors and patterns," Yuhki Kuramoto said after the release of his seventh studio album. Called the George Winston of Asia for his New Age piano eminence, Kuramoto has a style that is delightfully solid and neat.

That style has made Kuramoto, born in 1951, especially well-received in Korea. His compositions are light on ornamental graces; mostly they are a flow of simple rhythms, without being monotonous in the negative sense. Kuramoto makes every note count; the result is a spectrum of emotions conjured by sparse but beautiful melodies.

The new album, "Time for Journey," carrying 14 tracks, is true to the established Kuramoto style. Each piece was inspired by something Kuramoto encountered while traveling the world. In the CD booklet's songlist, each track but the first two is accompanied by a photo Kuramoto took of the corresponding place.

The pianist has always been inspired by nature, as shown in "Lake Louise" from the 2000 album "Lake Misty Blue." This time he was moved to write "Calming (Medicine) Lake," motivated by Medicine Lake in Canada's Jasper National Park. The piece is typical Kuramoto: structured and tranquil.

One of the new album's most noteworthy tracks is "Vision at Caminito," inspired by Argentinian tango. Adapted by Kuramoto, tango becomes both titillating and temperate.

Kuramoto seems to do his best stuff when writing about Canada, like in the ninth track, "Forest in Calgary." The piece starts soberly, followed by simple but sensational melody lines, which evoke both happiness and sorrow. While soft touches are a constant throughout the album, in "Forest" Kuramoto presses heavier, conveying stronger emotions.

One of best works is "Nostalgic Affection," inspired by Korea's Jeju island. "I felt yearning and comfort on Jeju," said Kuramoto.

"The Far Citadel" an idea born of an old Spanish castle, is the only dip in this disk. The song is built on heavy notes struck at regular intervals, but isn't very well-presented, and clashes with the tenor of the album.

Kuramoto's music lacks the variety of a colorful kaleidoscope. Instead, his musical hues deliquesce into a clean and serene transparency, revealing the emotions that color our lives.

by Chun Su-jin

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