Hyakkei doesn’t strike me as a post-rock kind of band. Where post-rock by the likes of mono (who signed Hyakkei to its Human Highway label), Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and Envy indulge in the crush of heavy guitars, Hyakkei instead aims for an uncluttered sound.
The emphasis is on the trio itself, the interplay of drums with bass, bass with guitar, guitar with drums. On Standing Still in a Moving Scene, the band’s debut album, the music is mostly genteel and melodic. At times, Hyakkei cuts loose and builds to a big climax, but its an ascent proportional to their size.
They won’t go from super soft to deafening loud with a flick of a wrist.
At times, Hyakkei could almost be considered too genteel. There’s an emphasis on melody from which the trio’s cohorts abstain, and the breezy feel of their music borders on adult contemporary radio appeal.
But I’m on the outer edge of pushing 40, and honestly, Hyakkei’s unobtrusiveness is really appealing. If there’s beauty to be had in their music, it’s from a whisper, not a scream.
Although tracks such as "hunting" "maple", and "elements" revel in their meditativeness, other tracks, such as "effect", "prairie" and "-2ºc" guarantee the album doesn’t wallow.
Even if the band’s songwriting is a string pad away from new age, their performances are hard to dismiss.
Drummer Tanaka Ken plays with the kind of expressive touch that goes beyond keeping time. Like Joey Baron, Ahito Inazawa or Jimmy Chamberlin, Tanaka contributes as much to the melodies as his bandmates. With guitarist Nakamoto Shuuhei and bassist Kiyabu Naoko contributing their own distinct perspectivees, the trio becomes a single voice. Remove one part from the whole, and it all falls apart.
It might sound like a knock to call Standing Still in a Moving Scene the post-rock album your parents would love, but really it isn’t. Hyakkei explores the lighter side of the aesthetic advanced by the Human Highways and Temporary Residences of the world, and it’s a refreshing spin on a kind of music that tends to get pretty heavy-handed.