[sic] Magazine

[.que] – Wonderland

[.que] is the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Nao Kakimoto, based in Tokyo, Japan. Since 2010 he has released seven albums, one EP and three singles on labels such as Schole, IntroDuCing! and his own Embrace. He has also composed music for many film movies, television commercials, websites and exhibitions. Wonderland is his eighth full length album and first for Sound In Silence, the Athens-based specialist label.

(from the bio)

Wonderland is a concept album of ten tracks based on ideas that started taking shape when Kakimoto composed the soundtrack of the short film Kurokawa Wonderland back in 2015. The bio continues: – Harmonizing the warmth of acoustic instruments and folk elements with electronic textures and field recordings, [.que] creates a wonderful album full of emotional melodies and delicate rhythms. Therein lies, perhaps my issue. I could have done without the various (running water and birdsong) field recordings . I know that the album has songtitles such as ‘Drip’, ‘Forest’ and ‘Waterfall’ but it conjures images of that New Age shop where you go to buy incense and crystals from a bored looking emo girl. I want my electronica to be cooler than that. [.que] is more about the warmth. The piano refrain on ‘Forest’ almost reprises album opener ‘Quiet’ but had me wanting to play U2’s ‘October’ instead. You won’t see them mentioned in many [.que] reviews.

This albums saving grace is its second half. Kakimoto slips nicely into pastoral acoustic mode on ‘Nostalgia’ giving the piece a vibe that is almost ‘English countryside’ I love the arpeggios on ‘Laputa’ and would happily let this fall onto my face for hours like warm summer rain. Indeed the shimmering backdrop to ‘Afterglow’ was technically the most interesting aspect of the record for me. I just wanted more. More substance, more chills (thrills?) I fully understand that [.que] is going for that warm and fuzzy, (and yes) nostalgic vibe but Wonderland is just too innocuous for me to fully recommend. The album couldn’t recover from its non-descript opening half dozen tracks. Some fragile vocals a la Hood or epic45 may have been the missing ingredient. We will never know.