Monsoon is Koji Asano's tenth album, and his third to feature solo piano music (after Celeste and You Can't Open the Door Because It's Already Open). It is also his third to use ambient recording in order to capture not only the music itself, but also the sonic context in which it was produced (You Can't Open... again) or its effects on the surroundings (Sunshine Filtering Through Foliage, in which analog synth sounds made objects in the room vibrate). In this case, the pianist has placed small objects like pencils and plastic balls inside the piano -- not on the strings, that would be prepared piano, but on the inner frame. The playing produces resonance from these objects; their buzzing creates an extra layer of sound. You may think it enriches the music but, on the contrary. it stands between the performance and the listener, acting more like a filter, a light white curtain that prevents you from seeing clearly what's on the other side, even though it doesn't really block your sight. This alienating setup is complemented by the piano performance itself. The four pieces consist of insistent hammered chords, repetitive figures played at a sustained tempo. As in the works of Philip Glass, they transform slowly even though the pace is frantic, resulting in a time-stretching sensation that is enhanced by the fact that each piece is longer than the previous one (10, 14, 19 and 22 minutes). Nothing's easy with Asano. Left alone, these piano pieces could have been challenging, but in the end cute and slightly limited. Instead, Monsoon has become another uncanny listening experience.
AllMusic Review by François Couture