Midori Hirano has always produced music to get lost in. On her latest record, she creates an entire world. Minor Planet, released earlier this month via the wonderful Berlin based Sonic Pieces, expertly enshrines subtle instrumentation within a rich textural palate. The understated charm of the album’s fabric sleeve reflects the consistency and artistry of Hirano’s craft. Throughout the record, reverb permeates each muted piano note, whilst field recordings sweep in and out of focus like sound waves drifting on a solar wind. On ‘Rabbits in The Path’, a synthetic tide washes over the plaintive melody, whilst ‘Night Traveling’ sees faint electronic tones chirrup softly beneath a glassy surface. Minor Planet is an enigmatic record, with delicate sonic threads slowly unravelling over repeated listens.
Midori spoke to us about the delights of stargazing. Whilst the night sky is more than capable of engendering feelings of wonder on its own, you could do worse than to soundtrack the celestial pastime with Midori's sublime Minor Planet.
Were you interested in stargazing growing up in Japan?
Yes and no. The town I grew up in had too much neon and exhaust gas, so I could barely see the stars there most of the time. I don't really remember if I ever had the chance to go stargazing when I was living in Japan. But one time my parents took me to a planetarium to learn about the planets and the stars, and everything I saw looked like a completely different world. Stargazing was just like a fantasy for me. It's still enjoyable to think about the stars, even without looking at the night sky. I often build up my own constellations in my head.
Is stargazing something you do regularly?
Not regularly, but occasionally when the sky is clear enough to show some stars. Sometimes I'll go to the small park behind the building where I live, or I'll find a place by chance while I'm outside at night. In Berlin you can sometimes encounter big empty spaces without any expectations. Although I can still recognize a few main constellations without maps, like Big Dipper or Orion, it's hard to see other constellations when living in a city. But I'm always happy every time I find the main constellations, which I have known since my childhood. They sometimes bring me back to memories of the very small backyard at my parents house, where I used to watch the sky from.
Is there anywhere near to the city with lower levels of light pollution?
My husband took me to the so called 'darkest point' in Germany to go stargazing very recently. It seems there are different spots in the same region, and we went to one of them. The stars there were very beautiful, more so than I expected. I could even see the milky way there. The region is called 'Sternpark Havelland', it's almost two hours away by car from Berlin. But I'm sure there are tons of other places in the world where you can see beautiful stars!
I wasn't surprised to learn you enjoy stargazing- I've always thought your music is best suited to night. Are you inspired by the stars?
It seems yes. I wasn't really aware of it of it before, but I recently realised that I have used words which relate to stars or planets in my last few records. For instance, my latest album is named 'Minor Planet', and when I released my last MimiCof album 'Kotolyra' back in 2012, I titled each track after different constellations like this. I did a lot of research on constellations which I hadn't heard of, and used the names, forms and meanings of those I found the most interesting. It was a fun process, almost like making my own constellation map.
Finally, stargazing can be an enchanting, mysterious and profound experience. Do you think, in a world where we are increasingly self centred, it's important to reflect on the size and scope of the universe?
Absolutely. Just like thinking about the other side of the world, you can think about the other side of the universe. Even if you don't understand how, it's over there...