I’m kicking off 2023 (Happy New Year by the way) with my Christmas 2022 discovery – Ichiko Aoba. Ichiko is a Japanese folk singer who contains one of the most purest voices I’ve ever heard. Her brand of folk is extremely twee, relaxed and exceptionally calming. You can hear the rootsy Japanese village folk in her musical arrangements but she is also inspired by Disney and Studio Ghibli soundtracks too. This lends her music to lazy acoustic guitars, lilting vocals, beautiful ambient backdrops and a wholesome timelessness that I just haven’t found elsewhere outside of perhaps Yae. If you are a gamer, you may have already heard her voice in 2019’s The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
In 2022 Ichiko Aoba performed a concert in London (The Barbican – always a favourite of mine) with 12 Ensemble – a string quartet. This concert includes some rearrangement of her original recordings and I think it is the perfect way to discover Aoba’s work if you haven’t done so before. She allowed the performers to add their own embellishments to the music and to be inspired by nature, so each performance is slightly different for each show too.
Below is a playlist of three videos (four tracks) taken from the live recording of the concert. I think my favourite is ‘Sagu Palm’s Song’. It is the ultimate hair in the summer breeze song. For more information on Ichiko Aoba, visit her website.
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