Pieces of Sky

by Tomo Nakayama

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about

Pieces of Sky

Since releasing his previous album, every few days Tomo Nakayama has pushed his guitar through the X-ray machine, re-laced his shoes and set up behind a microphone amidst the arrivals and departures at the Seattle/Tacoma Airport. Much like a piano-man in the rotunda or a fiddler in the Underground, Tomo collects his belongings, counts his earnings, and clocks out at the end of the shift. Throughout this process of returning, Nakayama’s 1st Act as an artist and musician (for more than 20 years) has now, in many ways, transformed to a state of second nature.

Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music” in the liner notes of his release, Music for Airports in 1979 — stating that it was “intended to induce calm and a space to think.” Although Nakayama’s Pieces of Sky is vastly different from Eno’s in tone and structure, its effect and context might ultimately be best described as, “airport music.”

The themes of Pieces of Sky reflect a man existing somewhere between terminals, amongst the honeymooners, home-comers, mourners, and the endless hum of televised news. As thousands of passengers walk by, some give a gentle grin, some deliver offerings and accolades, some pass hurriedly as if Nakayama resembled a potted fern. But the fragments of Tomo’s music which manage to attach themselves all emit the same effect that Eno described in his own music — they induce a space to think.

The sequencing of the album itself is a set of interval arrivals and departures for Nakayama as a songwriter. The first track, “Bright and Blue” opens with an established voice and tone that the singer has carved out over the last two decades - it’s anchored and confident, but leaves just enough of an opening for the vocals and instrumentation to begin their ascent into new territory. “Roma” expands on this idea as Tomo sings over a lush bed of strings and piano, pushing his voice to an urgent and vulnerable height until it feels like it might shatter through the cracks completely. “Undying Light,” finds Nakayama exploring the parameters of relying on a single chord throughout the song, and the result is remarkably one of the songwriter’s most intricate sounding compositions to date. The axis point of the album is the title track “Pieces of Sky,” which manages to embody all of Nakayama’s qualities as an artist up to this point — taking a complex subject and making it feel simple and attainable, while weaving intricate guitar patterns through an ethereal field. From there, the album maintains this design of alternating from a foreign place to the familiar, but through the process of repeating, a sort of “stripping away” takes place and a new side of Nakayama emerges. As the organic textures continue to yield to electronic ambience, you reach the final track “All Entwined,” which ultimately leaves you with a sense of looking at the complicated world from somewhere high above, at zero gravity.

So now that Tomo Nakayama’s airport residency has come to pass and its effects have been printed on wax, the best listening experience of this album might be in some real or imagined take-off from the Earth’s surface, above the ominous clouds which may or may not ever reach down — in the aspirins of immaculate air.

Liner notes: Grant Olsen

credits

released September 8, 2017

All songs written by Tomo Nakayama (Ricebelly Music BMI, copyright 2017)
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Tomo Nakayama
Mixing and Casio SK-1 on “Bright and Blue” by Yuuki Matthews
Violin and viola on “Roma” by Alex Guy
Mastered by Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering
Vinyl preparation by Levi Seitz at Black Belt Mastering
Art and design by Frida Clements

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Tomo Nakayama Seattle, Washington

"Best Folk Act" - Seattle Weekly

"When music journalists say things like 'this artist is a fixture in Seattle music,' there’s probably no one right now who fits that title better than Nakayama." - KEXP

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Track Name: Bright and Blue
When the night is wild and new
When the world has come unglued
When I see that naked moon
It’s all bright and blue

You’re the one I’m thinking of
Down below or far above
Soft and still, my lover singing
All bright and blue

Heard you in the atmosphere
Felt you when the words weren’t clear
Saw you in the morning air
It’s all bright and blue

Bright and blue
Bright and blue

There’re some folks who live estranged
There’re some things you cannot change
There are some people you must live without
But heaven knows what I would be
If you were not here with me
If the road ahead didn’t lead me
Home, back to you
We’re all bright and blue
Yes we’re all bright and blue
Bright and blue
Track Name: Roma
Leaning against the lonesome olive tree
Time is a bending light that follows me
Turning over every stone
Every heart I’ve ever known

Buildings upon the hillside glittering
Drunks in the early morning stumbling
Through the dawn we wander on
Stay with me, won’t you, baby
Oh, the church bells ring loud and clear
Oh, let them sing your name into the air

Home, now with Virgil, Roma bleeds
Circling above to Dido’s elegy
Sending smoke from distant shores
Turnus come, lay down your sword
Think of me only, baby

Oh, let the west winds blow loud and clear
Oh, let them sing your name for all to hear

Roma bleeds
Roma bleeds
Roma bleeds

Think of me only, baby

Roma bleeds
Roma bleeds
Track Name: Undying Light
I see the winds out on the ocean
I feel the waves come crashing in
We sailed along on stormy waters
We sailed along thy seas

I’ll see you there, my old companion
And where you go, I’ll go with thee
We walked along on barren valleys
We walked along thy streets

No more fear and no more lies
All in love’s undying light
All illusions, all in sight
All in love’s undying light

Long is the wait we are forgetting
Here is the wage of memory
We shed our skins, our old beginnings
We’ll shed the weight of sin

So greet me there, my old companion
(Counting all the ripples in the water)
And where you grow, I’ll grow with thee
(Staring at the mountains and the seas)
We’ll walk along our own dominion
(Diamonds in the center of your eyes, dear)
We’ll walk along so free
(Bring your guiding hand again to me)

No more fear and no more lies
All in love’s undying light
All illusions cast aside
All in love’s undying light

All, here in the day, here in the daylight
All, All in the day, all in the daylight
All, All in the day, here in the daylight
All, all in the day, all in the daylight
Track Name: My Life is Better Because You Are In It
You know, you must know
So I’m telling you now
You know, you must know
But I’m telling you anyhow

You know, you must know
You must hear this all the time
You know, you must know
But I’m telling you every time

“My life is better because you are in it.”

You hear, do you hear me?
Don’t ever forget
You hear, do you hear me?
Don’t ever forget

“I love you more than I could ever express.”


You know life can be heavy
And you can be such a mess
You know people can be so cruel
And we have our share of fights, I guess
But you are worth all of this

Cos I love you more than I could ever express.
“I love you more than I could ever express.”

You know, you must know
You must hear it all the time
You know, you must know
But I don’t think you get it
So I’ll say it again:

“My life is better because you are in it.”
“My life is better because you are in it.”
“My life is better because you were in it.”
“My life is better because you are in it.”
Track Name: Pieces of Sky
Earth is big and the seas are blue
There’s so much that I want to show you
Evening falls on a clear white moon
I can’t wait til the daylight holds you

Lately seems like the world’s on fire
Lately feels like the truth don’t matter
All I care about is the kind of place
We might leave for our sons and daughters

Will I feel turned around
When the pieces of sky are falling down
What will I leave to be found
By your eyes
By your eyes

There’s only so much that we can do
All we have is our given moment
Hit the lights when we clear this room
Leave it cleaner than when we found it

Will I feel changed around
When the pieces of sky are coming down
Will I live in the sound
By and by
By and by

Earth is big and the seas are blue
Icebergs crumble into the water
Nature’s older than me or you
She’ll outlive all our foolishness

Will I feel turned around
When the pieces of sky are falling down
What will I leave in the ground
When I die
When I die
Will I feel changed around
When the pieces of sky come raining down
When I leave, could I say
That I tried
That I tried
Track Name: Fourth of Julivar's
Sat in the dark on some patio chairs on the rooftop
We closed our eyes on the Fourth of July as we kissed
All of the neighborhood kids lighting fireworks in the sky
All of the neighborhood cars heading home as they’re rolling by

Walked in the park by the lake where we danced in the moonlight
We carved our names on a bench with the edge of my key
It said “forever”, and I mean forever with you, love
Will you be here with me, always be near with me, will you love?

Say yes, say yes
Say yes, say yes

You look so pretty now, standing in your wedding dress
Glowing so bright in the soft summer light through the kitchen window
How many mornings will we spend here waking together?
How many evenings will we spend in each other’s eyes?

Say yes, say yes
Say yes, say yes
Say yes, say yes
Say yes, say yes
Track Name: I Will Not Be Moved
I belong to the early morning
Papers come and pipers going

I belong to the early morning
When you come you’ll find me yawning

I will not be scared
I will not be scared

Come and go, you come and leave me
Common names for all the same things we express
Days will come and days we’re leaving
Oh my love I know we’re leaving

Anyway.

I will not be moved
I will not be moved
I will not be moved
I will not be moved
Anywhere.

Anywhere.
Track Name: Walking for Two
When I think that I’m all alone
When I feel like there’s nowhere to go
She’s by my side, there to remind me:
I’m walking for two

When the weight is heavy and cold
When I feel my legs turning to stone
She calls my name, always to find me
I’m walking for two

Walking

For too many years I’ve been hiding
Behind all the reasons to quit
If you can’t change for yourself
Then you damn well better
Do it for someone you love

Now I know that I’ve got a home
Now I know I’m never alone
She’s by my side, long as she’s with me
I’m walking for two
She’s by my side, there to remind me:
I’m walking for two
I’m walking for two
Walking for two
Track Name: Make Me a Bird
Sundown, leaving
Turn me over
Make me a bird to fly high
Sorrow, be gentle
Help me be kind
Make me a bird to fly high
High

I held my breath
As you turned down the light
Head under water, I find
All our tomorrows
from yesterday’s vines
Sing so me sweet, a lullabye
High
High
High

Every day, every day that I’m alive
Every day, every day that I’m alive
Every day, every day that I’m alive
Every day, every day that I’m alive

Sun down, leaving
Turn me around
Bid me a long goodnight
Time make me tender
Love make me kind
Make me a bird
Track Name: All Entwined
Gathering the stones we laid in stormy weather
Hallowed is the song we sang through tears together
All we found, all we leave
All entwined

Hollowing the log we felled in love’s endeavour
Following the setting sun, I do remember
All we have, all we need
All in time

Time marches on
On
On
And when we are lost
Will you call me?
And follow
It follows
Gold and bright

Embrace
Embrace the light.

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