Tomita - Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974)

  • review
  • electronic
  • classical

Today I'm reviewing Isao Tomita's 1974 album "Snowflakes Are Dancing". "The Newest Sound Of Debussy" as it says on the record cover. The album features a collection of electronic re-interpretations of the music from Claude Debussy, the French classical impressionist composer. It contains known pieces like 'Claire De Lune' and 'Arabesque No. 1' and various other lesser known pieces. Isao Tomita began writing music in his time as a student. He wrote music for the Olympic gymnastics team of Japan in 1956. He than proceeded to work on TV and movie soundtracks. Sadly, he passed away in 2016 aged 84. He is seen as one of the pioneers of electronic music and remained active in the field of music until his death.

'Snowflakes Are Dancing' is a light-hearted, playful compilation of electronic compositions. I love how Isao Tomita is able to create the same emotional depth as Debussy with the use of electronics, as compared to an orchestra. It really demonstrates the diversity and range of all the mostly modular moog synthesizers and other instrumentation that is used. In a way this music partially reminds me of the soundtrack to Blade Runner even though that movie came out 8 years later. I love the first side of this record; the progressive build up from the title track "Snowflakes Are Dancing (Children's Corner No. 4)" and "Reveries" to the well known compositions "Claire de La Lune" and "Arabesque No. 1". I love the use of reverb, the textures - all in all - how organic and natural it sounds for an electronic record. I also love how he's able to embed the typical gimmicky moog sounds in, at it's heart, classical music. It really shows that a tremendous amount of effort went into this.

The second side of the record features more of the same. It's mostly similar with two exceptions: the first one is "Golliwog's Cakewalk (Children's Corner, No. 6)". This composition sounds a bit different compared to the other tracks - almost as though Tomita is trying to show that he's also able to do something a little bit more experimental. The gimmicky moog sounds on this track are outbalancing the classical vibe and this causes me to not nearly liking this track as much as the rest of the record. Another issue is present at the last track: "Footprints In The Snow". The main returning sound on that track is the typical submarine sonar sound and some very simple synths playing in the background. The build-up is rather slow and it's a little to simplistic compared to the rest of the record.

All in all I really love "Snowflakes Are Dancing" by Isao Tomita. It really stands out to me that a pioneer in electronic composition is able to recreate the sounds of Claude Debussy in such a fashion that it's still recognizable and above all originally executed. There are some great pieces on this record like "Reveries", "Claire De La Lune" and "Arabesque No. 1". It also has it's minor, less interesting tracks but they don't fall out of tone with the general direction of this record. It could maybe have maybe used a little bit of hustling in the tracklisting to diversify the good with the bad, but that's just me nitpicking [7.5/10].

Published on: Jan 13, 2018 by Gerard - list of changes