In a conversation with film critic Roger Ebert, Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki revealed how Studio Ghibli films employed what Ebert called “gratuitous motion”: instead of every movement serving a purpose to progress the plot, characters will just sit, sigh, or look at a moving stream to give a sense of time and place.
Biosphere achieves that same “gratuitous” effect in his new 2019 album Snapshot, each instrument and soundbite staking its place in a soundscape that keeps developing. Listeners will hear chirping birds in “requiem for the dead” and crooning crickets in “hopefully one day”; and while neither elements are necessary to the melody or beat, both sounds allow the listener to recall a specific memory or time. And thus, the “gratuitous” nature of Snapshot accomplishes in recreating memories that once felt distant. Even “summer’s end” employs the soft echo of a child’s voice to make listeners feel nostalgic for a memory that never existed.
Snapshot walks listeners through a narrative of muted joy and whimsicality. It almost feels like one has become the reserved, but resilient protagonist in an anime complete with baby blue skies and personified objects as companions.