Review – “Hiroshima/Miyajima” – Orbit Over Luna

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis cover

Orbit Over Luna, is the working name for Torontonian Shannon Penner—a musician, animator, composer, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist. Self-described as an “ambient post-rock” artist, Penner is crafting a series of EPs influence by his journey through Japan.

Hiroshima/Miyajima is the latest release from this set. It’s a collection of five instrumental pieces, each named after a destination in Japan. Ambient post-rock doesn’t do the sound Penner creates justice as he weaves in touches of Asian and world music. While the influences are there, Hiroshima/Miyajima is far from a so-called world music genre. Instead, he mixes together a form of delicate rock with hints of different types of music and different places. The EP may not transport you to another part of the world, but it will take you to a different place within yourself—it has an almost meditative effect on the listener.

“Genbaku Dome” quietly opens the EP with the soft strumming of a guitar layered over chimes and ambient sound. While the guitar slowly gains strength and the chimes become more pronounced, the pace of the song remains the same, easing you into the album.

Things transition seamlessly into “Miyajima Water Fireworks” with a gentle tapping on the chimes and a steady, soft rhythm on the guitar. Again, the ambient background creates a flow in the song, bringing out the sense of the water mentioned in the title.

“Miyajima Water Fireworks” fades out and “Hiroden Hope” begins with a static hum and string plucking that fuses rock and Asian sounds. This is broken up with sections of more chimes and a background that sounds like windpipes carrying their own version of the guitar piece.

“Misen Yama” flows from “Hiroden Hope” with steady, soft strumming with the focus on the chimes. “Hiroshima: City of Peace” ends the EP with seven restful minutes that build up slowly. The guitar picks up without taking away from the peace of the intro. The slow build begins to see accents on the notes halfway through. In the final minute and a half the song begins to fade out, the guitar slows and then stops, and ambient noise transitions you out of the EP and back into the real world.

It’s with reluctance that I leave the feeling of calm Hiroshima/Miyajima imparts, especially with “Hiroshima: City of Peace”. By the end of the first track I find myself unwinding and letting go, getting carried away by the chimes and soothing ambient music. Towards the end of the album, I’ve forgotten about everything except the music, and it’s good that the EP ends the way it does, with no abruptness. After a chaotic day, Hiroshima/Miyajima is the remedy for finding peace.

Top Tracks: “Hiroshima: City of Peace”; “Miyajima Water Fireworks”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop* 

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