Chihei Hatakeyama is an ambient electronic musician and artist from Tokyo, Japan. He performs both under his given name and as one half of the electroacoustic duo Opitope (along with Tomoyoshi Date).

Hatakeyama began playing in bands when he was at school. Initially influenced by the Beatles he later embraced Thrash Metal before a gig by British DJ Mixmaster Morris introduced him to the possibilities within ambient music. This led to a love of Krautrock and playing guitar from a more improvisational and tonal approach.

Since 2001 he has concentrated on solo works and uses technologies including Max/MSP in his process.

Chihei Hatakeyama has amassed a huge discography in a short space of time and is released on various labels including Kranky, Room 40, Under The Spire, Hibernate Records, Magic Book Records, OwnRecords and Spekk (as Opitope). In 2010 he launched his own label, White Paddy Mountain.

His first full-length album Minima Moralia, released on Kranky in 2006, works as a series of vignettes and is a meditation on silence. Each track title conjures a particular image to mind (Bonfire in the Field, Beside a Well, etc.) which the music seeks to replicate.

Influenced by Japanese culture, such as tea ceremonies and gardens, Hatakeyama sees making music as akin to creating sculpture: a collaboration with materials which decide what form they will take. Listening back, which takes up a great deal of his time, is seen as one of the most crucial stages in his compositional process. For Hatakeyama there are no absolute forms in sound. Infinite variations are possible with the same material and often contain seeds for more than one song or work.

His works evolves slowly, composed by repeatedly processing guitars, pianos, and vibraphones on a laptop. The result is infused with a machine-like spirituality – a mix of droning chords and sparse single instruments rising above the mix.

Fun Fact

Hatakeyama gradually recorded Mirage (released June 2017) over five years and cites traveling in Turkey as a primary influence on the album, specifically the way sound travels and decays in the country’s busy bazaar markets.

About this Contributor

Given name
Family name
Birth date
Contributor type
Minutes created
Collection 1 #3

Minutes by Chihei Hatakeyama