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Paniyolo and Akio Watanabe – Passage of Sky Review

An unusual collaboration makes the most delicate of melodies

Featuring one of the most unusual instrument collaborations I can think of, ‘Passage of Sky’ is also one of the most laidback pieces of music of 2019. Its understated elegance captures exactly what the slow-paced Japanese country life is all about. Delicate, whimsical and thoughtful.

Paniyolo is an acoustic guitar player called Muneki Takasaka. He has been making beautiful solo acoustic melodies to chill out to for a while. Akio Watanabe is a steel pan drum player from WAIWAI Steel Band. Across the albums 19 tracks, the pair simply play gentle melodies together.

Paniyolo (right) and Akio Watanabe (left)

It is utterly disarming in a summer gust of wind kind of way. Each track deliberately breathes between passages and phrases. It is as if the songs themselves do not want to break a sweat. Instead, merged in with some field recordings of wildlife and nature, the two casually chill out together. Unhurried. Making songs that won’t stick immediately in your brain but that have clear melodies, riffs and structures… and I love it.

There is something so pure and innocent about ‘Passage of Sky’ that appeals to me. In a western world that feels like it demands you be spat out for not running at 220bpm, this album is a tonic. You can’t help but slow down and notice all the tiny sounds and feelings around you. I hope you don’t vomit with the image but I listened to this album in the bath after a really terrible workday and I felt calmer, poised and had gained clarity. I also felt like I needed some wine to drink the mood!

Paniyolo and Akio Watanabe have made a quiet and rare gem with ‘Passage of Sky’. Whilst for some, it may be too much slice of life. For me, I wanted to order another round. I strongly recommend trying out the track ‘Blue’ for the best taster of what the album offers. If you love gentle acoustic folk music – this is heaven.

Recommended track: Blue

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Paniyolo and Akio Watanabe - Passage of Sky



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