Chihei Hatakeyama: "Swaying Curtain In The Window"


By Mark Abraham | 8 May 2006

Dear Ashley,

I’m sorry. And I could totally get away with what I’m sorry about, because hell, you’d never know, but here’s the truth: I totally forgot that you existed.

I was talking with Peter and Mel and Amy about our University days and our residence’s coffee houses and they were all like “remember that time you played a Garth Brooks song and you hated Garth Brooks but you did it anyway ‘cause Ashley had a really nice voice and that’s what she wanted to sing?” and I was all like, “who?”

Anyway, I remember now, but I was listening to this song and remembering your singing voice and, I mean, I don’t really think you would like this particular track, but it sounds like your voice, because it’s all plaintive curls and staircases running nowhere and dreamy faux-dénouements and your voice had that same confidently-fragile quality, like all the break points were clearly calculated, and the way you drew air sort of caused your syllables to harmonize with one another in between consonants and even though our performance was, as far as I know, your only public performance, you had a total grasp of tension and resolution and how to make your voice the focus without being all flashy and in your audience’s face.

‘Cause even with all of these stray piano notes and drones and that beautiful guitar, Hatakeyama knows how to manipulates his source material perfectly, entrancing you with just enough possibility of it cracking or bursting into tears or getting stage fright or whatever you were afraid of happening so that we, as an audience for you and he, follow it through, even though the very act of your and his manipulation is evidence that our investment is really unnecessary, ‘cause there was never any chance of failure. Tricky, huh?

I mean, I’m not calling you out on being manipulative; I’m just saying that there’s something really critical in knowing but not knowing, if you know what I mean. I don’t know what “Swaying Curtain In The Window” is about, unless its title is incredibly literal, but it doesn’t matter -- all of its secret passages lead me to moments of epiphany where memories of similar noises and soundscapes are unearthed. You voice is one of them: simple, tentative, and absolutely enveloping.

Hope everything is well,