“Hidden Flowers” by Masako
Album Review by Dyan Garris
The astoundingly beautiful “Hidden Flowers” by Masako, is the ultimate in relaxation. – Dyan Garris
“Hidden Flowers” is the 5th album from Japanese born, multiple award-winning piano artist, Masako. Co-produced by Masako and Will Ackerman, along with sound engineer and co-producer, Tom Eaton, “Hidden Flowers” is brimming and light-filled with the pure, ripe blossoms of evocative, gentle melodies and reflective soundscapes.
The impressive list of guest artists includes: Violinist, Charlie Bisharat, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Jeff Oster on trumpet and flugelhorn performance, Premik Russell Tubbs on wind synth and alto flute, Tom Eaton performing on bass and synth, as well as Noah Wilding with wordless, ethereal vocals.
Like pristine flowers, Masako’s composition style is relatively uncomplicated, yet so very elegant. What shines through, as well, is her absolutely perfect cadence, tone, and touch, all adding up to an overflowing sense of warmth, compassion, and comfort that is unforgettable.
“Hidden Flowers” is 12 tracks and over an hour of contemporary instrumental piano that is sure to bring you into a state of appreciation for life’s hidden treasures. The album opens with the gentle, reflective, solo piano piece, “Harajuku Memoir.” Harajuku is best known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion, although, my understanding is that designation has faded in recent years. This “hidden flower” may be a wistful, contemplative tribute to the passage from youth to mature adulthood; from a tiny, closed, bud to a fully open and blossoming flower.
Following is “Age of Flowers.” Again, we have an ultra-relaxing, emotionally deep, piano melody. The accompanying instrumentation is hauntingly beautiful. We are reminded that flowers are timeless, as are we.
“Acadia,” which I believe refers to Acadia National Park in Maine, begins with gentle ocean waves and perfectly nuanced, calming, piano with excellent use of both upper and lower registers. Sweetly incoming into the mix is the exquisite and unmistakable horn of Jeff Oster, which – no matter how many times or even wherever one hears it – embraces and comforts the soul in a way like no other. At just over 3 minutes, one wishes this song would instead go on forever.
What someone does with a rainy day is up to them, but we all know that flowers need the rain, even flowers that are temporarily hiding from the sun. “Remember the Rainy Day” is a soft, flowing, piano melody with Masako’s velvety touch leading us into easy tranquility.
If I am not mistaken, “Blossom River” may refer to the season in Japan where cherry blossoms can be seen from both sides of certain rivers. This piece is completely lovely on every level, and deeply emotional. The piano performance is superb, and surrounded by flowers, not unlike them, we can feel our hearts opening to the beauty of life in every direction. The addition of flute here adds a special dimension.
“Observing M31” is an easy favorite on this album. M31 (Messier 31), is the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest galaxy to our own. This piece is stellar in every single way. If you only get one song on this album, be sure to get this. It will bring happiness to your spirit from the first note. Flowing, upbeat, smooth, effortless, piano – almost liquid in its delivery – is accompanied by fun flute and heavenly wordless vocals. Yes, stellar.
“Forgiving” features provocative, contemplative piano along with haunting ethereal, wordless vocals. So beautiful. There is hidden treasure in the act of forgiveness.
Charlie Bisharat’s masterful violin performance melts like honey into Masako’s fluid piano playing on “Eternal Bliss.” Just gorgeous through and through.
We are treated again to the compelling horn of Jeff Oster, once more meshing perfectly with Masako’s consummate piano playing on “Southbound Flyaway.” Violin, cello, soft synth, soft percussion, and more, add multi-layers to the lush soundscape. Flowing and ultra-relaxing, we are in a magnificent dream, far and away from any troubles.
“Suddenly Cherry Blossoms” is a reflective and perfectly lovely piano piece, as is Winter People, which includes again, Jeff Oster’s haunting horn. Oh, so very beautiful.
The album closes out with hypnotic, almost meditative, “Central Park Retreat.” Tantalizing piano, violin, skillful percussion, ethereal vocals, plus more, effortlessly and completely soothe the mind, body, and spirit.
To me, one aspect of this album that really stands out is this: When we think of flowers, when we look at them, we see them with our eyes as a whole, but we know in our minds each individual flower is comprised of different layers of petals. Each layer here, each individual petal of instrumentation, is so skillfully incorporated into the whole, seemingly without any effort whatsoever, that we end up with an astoundingly beautiful, fully blossoming unforgettable bouquet, which lives on. Sure to win another award or more, “Hidden Flowers” by Masako is the ultimate in relaxation.
Get it here or wherever music is sold/streamed: https://www.masako-music.com