Midwestern transplant Nathan Hewitt’s Music for Fifteen Emails is inspired by the 1980’s environmental music of composers such as Hiroshi Yoshimura, Satoshi Ashikawa, Haruomi Hosono, and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Unlike its inspirations, the album comes from the empty concrete jungles of coronavirus-stricken New York City. Like them, it evokes a certain interior-ness: of being in a room, looking out onto the world, with a window as your bridge.
I ran into this quote the other day:
“Music is not meant to be something which exists alone.”
~ Satoshi Ashikawa
I found it in this Pitchfork review I was reading. Ashikawa also described environmental music as “music which by overlapping and shifting changes the character and the meaning of space, things, and people.”
The article was about a reissue of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Music for Nine Post Cards. Hiroshi found inspiration looking out through the windows of a contemporary art museum. When I look out my apartment window I just see other windows. (I have been spending a lot of time inside.) To be honest, most of my windows are made up of pixels, these days.
I was inspired. I was going to send you a postcard today. Kind of old-fashioned, I know—it would be weeks before you got it. So I thought I would just send you these emails instead.
I have been thinking, recently, about the idea of a “soundtrack to your life.” I can imagine you reading on a bus, in your car, in the kitchen, or on a walk. John Cage said that there is no separation between art and life.
I have to say, that has not been my experience. Art can be so irrelevant to life; life can be so disconnected from art. But I do think that they can be bridged, and there are many ways to build one. These emails, for example. (At least, I hope so.)
If Satoshi was right, perhaps we are meant to build those bridges, whenever we can. I’m not sure if music can exist alone. But I know that I can’t.
I’m not an experienced bridge-builder, but I offer my best attempts. I hope they are enough.
released April 22, 2020
Composed and produced by Nathan Hewitt.
Some field recordings by Nathan Hewitt.
Additional field recordings from Freesound’s Thomas Walter Rechtsanwalt and Klankbeeld.
Album covers by Nathan Hewitt.
Inspired by Hiroshi Yoshimura and the Yamaha FB-01 FM Sound Generator.