'光' translates as 'light', with the Japanese meaning being deeply significant in so many aspects of how it can be used. The concept of light is inherently important in all my work as you may have noticed, with each album almost a constant reference to it. The idea of low ligjht moments and their connection to memory, innocence and the joy of life hols huge sway for me.
I hadn't released music for a long time when Mathias gently nudged me to make an album fos his excellent Eilean imprint. Collaborators and friends will note how I will obsessively work on music for years and then throw the reels away or delete the files in a moment of frustration or exhaustion with what I feel is a lack of creativity at times.
Yet Mathias kept quietly asking, and this tied in with a Home Normal event at Festival Spectaculare in Prague, kindly organised by the great Josef Sedlon. I used the preparation for the event to test my reel looping and ability to use older machines for the show itself. To practice, I would test at night on my childhood piano in my Warsaw studio and these loops became '光' as I spliced and built on each old tape that came out from the recordings.
The drone elements were created by simply pitching parts down and taking off the attack - done on reels this takes a lot of time and some serious splicing. It took me about 5 months of almost solidly working on these and making these edits each night but the results for me were so satisfying, and in every way this is a work I am immensely proud of.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did making it.
If you would like the final mix as one track as a wav file at 48k 24bit just mail ian[at]homenormal[dot]com
‘光’ is my first proper solo album in over 6 years. Following on from ‘The Shattered Light’, ‘光’ came about after bringing my childhood piano over from the UK to Warsaw, Poland last year, and recording directly onto reams of reels through my various reel-to-reels.
I ended up with hours of recordings leftover, randomly choosing some of my favourite short pieces to include on ‘光’. The album came out in limited edition on Eilean Records in June alongside the digital. The vinyl edition was designed by Rutger Zuydervelt and includes a bonus 90 minute exclusive download of collated pieces that didn’t make it to the album.
Huge love and thanks to Mathias at Eilean for pushing me to complete something after all these years, as without this I’d still just be surrounded by piles of recordings collecting dust.
'The first thing you’ll notice is the deliberate lo-fi sound quality of the recordings, which is perhaps not what you’d expect from a seasoned sound engineer. The music is performed on his childhood piano, using old disused reel to reel recorders and an array of vintage synths.
The result is that these pieces are very intimate: it’s as if this album was specifically recorded personally for you.' Ambient Blog
'The music seems to be coming out of a coma, out of a struggle, re-emerging from a bleak hibernation as the sun lights up its face. It’s alone with its thoughts, but it’s never isolated. As introverts need the escape route of alone-time in order to recharge and recuperate, the music does, too, keeping its head up with nine positive affirmations in a world too cruel for a good heart. Recorded using his childhood piano and absconding from the use of any computers or effects (save for reel delays), the result is freedom in music. Its absence is refreshing. Standing alone, the music dares to hope, never wanting to land. Hawgood’s music burns into the heart, stretching out like a delay-drenched, endless summer.' James Catchpole (Fluid Radio)
'Drony, jeśli już się pojawiają, zaledwie muskają fakturę. Całość opisu „光”można by zamknąć w opisie „fortepian na tle ambientu”. Z tym tylko, że tu nie chodzi o żadną wywrotowość, ale umiejętność stawiania akcentów czy budowania aury.' Jarek Szczęsny (Nowa Muzyka)
'Memory is bittersweet: it retains the tangible preciousness of a moment, the sweetness of an instant, and yet keeps it from physical reach, the mind distanced from the true fullness of feeling. It lives on though, and whilst we might never quite reach its exactness again, we can relish in the knowledge of its occurrence and be sustained by its afterglow.' Hear Feel
'The sound quality reflects the built up emotions touched upon in the title. The drones hold onto a haunting melody similar in nature to the piano.' Drifting, Almost Falling
'センチメンタルなメロディをそっと奏でる優しいピアノ〜儚いおぼろげなピアノと、その残響音の微かなドローンが緩やかに広がる、デリケートで美しいソロ・ピアノ〜ピアノ・アンビエント・サウンド。前作『Love Retained』と同じく、ピアノをオープン・リールのテープ・レコーダーで録音して、テープの素材を後から編集して作られた同じ流れを汲む作風の作品ですが、『Love Retained』の時よりも形のはっきりとしたピアノのフレーズのサウンドの比重を増やして、静かなアンビエント感もあり、そしてより優美でクラシカルな趣もあるピアノ作品に仕上げています。' Linus Records
'Mais si Every Ending Is A Little Sadder Now You’re Gone, dixit le morceau le plus angoissé de l’album aux cascades de piano lo-fi et embrumées, c’est finalement la ferveur qui domine et l’idée, relayée par ces drones vaporeux, que rien ne s’éteint jamais vraiment, surtout pas notre foi en la vie. Modeste et touchant, comme son auteur, 光 est de ces disques qui vous guérissent l’esprit en toute humilité.' Indie Rock Mag
'Rien de plus mais c'est déjà amplement suffisant dans cet art du less is more pour réinventer un monde emplie de beauté. L'anglais a aujourd'hui posé ses valises à Varsovie en Pologne et on peut sûrement entendre ce sublime 光 comme une lettre d'adieu à l'archipel nippon. L'album continue en tout cas d'inscrire, à ceux qui pourraient encore en douter, Ian Hawgood parmi les grands de l'ambient. Il est à écouter en intégralité à cette adresse.' dMute
'Le note dello strumento si librano delicate espandendosi come frammenti di morbida luce proiettati verso un orizzonte distante nel quale diluirsi divenendo indelebile traccia emozionale. Tutto scorre nostalgicamente lento lasciando propagarsi un portato sensoriale incline ad una inesauribile ricerca dello stupore...Una toccante raccolta di intime istantanee pervase da sincero calore.' So What Musica
'La música de Hawgood es silenciosa, minimalista y levita en la atmósfera con sutiles notas de piano y melodías que se despliegan lentamente dejando a la deriva nubes ambientales...Me atrevería a decir que “光” es unos de los discos fundamentales en el catálogo de Eilean Rec.' Loop
'Ian Hawgood lets these songs evolve with such natural grace and beauty. By letting every moment positively shine, he creates a realm that feels so vital, real, and raw. Little choices make a huge difference, whether it is the warm hiss that rests right on the periphery of the sound to the way that the rest of the world always seems to be about to come into view, there is a soothing, meditative spirit about it. Melody, rhythm, and otherworldly sweeps effortlessly come together. Taking a little bit of ambience into the mix Ian Hawgood lets the whole exploration of sound happen in a leisurely fashion...With “光” Ian Hawgood goes for a quiet sort of playfulness, a childlike sense of wonder that informs the entirety of the journey.' Beach Sloth
'Whether in need of respite from life’s jaded, sharp negatives; desiring to escape to one’s own childhood memories for a short time; or simply seeking a beautiful collection of “auditory minimalism” as Hawgood himself puts it: the music of ‘光’ will captivate, relax, and allow creativity and contemplation to flow freely within any listener.' Piano and Coffee
'Appunto come raggi di luce, impalpabili e sospesi, i brani di “光” rischiarano un’ambience raccolta e profondamente meditativa, donandovi placidi contenuti emotivi che dei riferimenti nipponici riecheggiano la grazia e l’equilibrio di arti – come quella di Hawgood – sintonizzate alla perfezione tra natura ed emozioni umane. In meno di mezz’ora, il lavoro descrive così un itinerario d’ascolto e al tempo stesso interiore, in grado di illuminare ogni solitudine, con leggerezza empatica e rilucente bellezza.' Music Won't Save You
'The playing is very sparse, a few notes, a chord, silence, and fits very much the current (well, seeing as how this is going on, not-so current) modern classical wave of piano players; think Nils Frahm or Max Richter. Yet Hawgood is calmer, more minimalist, quieter than some of his peers, as far as I know their work, and this album is of a great, vulnerable beauty. It took him six years to come up with this and it is a great album, but the sad thing is that it is quite short, at twenty-eight minutes. Each of the pieces seem to flow into each other, usually in the fading of a pieces and the residue left behind the sound effects, yet each piece has a title on the cover. Best enjoyed with some sparse lightning and a fine glass of red wine.' Vital Weekly
'Piano och gamla syntar, melankoliska vemodiga melodier utan att bli sentimentala. Motståndmusik mot vår förhatliga samtid. Vackert som fan.' Discreet Music
'Ian Hawgood’s latest solo work, 光 (2018, Home Normal / Eilean) is a thing of fragile beauty. His piano has exactly the right hazy texture, the compositions the right balance of melancholy and mystery.' Evening of Light
Even if he says otherwise, Ian Hawgood is super prolific and incredibly talented in not only his own releases, but in collaborations and with the heart & soul put into the labels he's run over the years.
Saying all that, this is a more recent favorite release of Ian's: peaceful, deceivingly simple (yet not!) piano works that is personal, elegant and graceful in its warmth and presentation. Plus it's for a wonderful cause. Get it!! Joe Borreson
As much as I love a variety of ambient, I'm not sure if I've ever listened to an album that has moved me to tears, not like this. Certainly there are strong moods that some ambient can evoke, but this really surprised me. There is grief here, but transcendent joy, too. shoto