Madoka Ogitani – The Whale Forest

Little noise by little noise, Madoka Ogitani travels far on The Whale Forest.


Artist – Madoka Ogitani
Album – The Whale Forest
Label – Self-released
Website –

You have to love a misfit.

That is to say a real misfit, not the well-marketed concept of a macho American male (hint: if you’re being marketed to, you’re not a misfit). A real misfit doesn’t quite belong anywhere. A misfit’s music doesn’t quite have an established audience. But the misfit makes it anyways. The misfit makes music to please herself. Inevitably, it pleases others, too.

Madoka is the best kind of misfit. Her music, while tangential to many styles is too “too” for any of them: too instrumental for pop, too pop for classical, too few guitars for post-rock, too organic for electro, too few crystals for new age, too busy to be ambient. Most of all, though, it’s too wonderful to miss.

Madoka dips her toes into all of those genres throughout these five delightful pieces. Now, if you know me, you would know I would never use the word “delightful” lightly. But that is the right word because of the beaming-sunlight-on-a-spring-morning energy that Madoka musters.

Through the EP, Madoka shows an an unparalleled enthusiasm for tones and timbres. Make no mistake, she’s not an indie dude spending five hours twiddling knobs on an amp to get superlative tone for a song that sounds like a child wrote it. No, her enthusiasm for a wide variety of instrumentation of tones is on prominent display. She even says herself that you’ll probably discover a new sound buried in the mix on every listen. So, if you’re sick of dime a dozen kalimba, glockenspiel, and gopichand music, Madoka also includes exotic sounds like pianos and synthesizers.

The combined effect of the EP is like a walk through the woods, or more accurately like a child’s walk through the woods. Madoka constantly moves from place to place, sound to sound, maybe pausing to ponder the resonance of a bowl. Maybe chancing on a stunning melody, but then letting it fade after a few repetitions.Why? Because there’s always something just as interesting, just as invigorating right around the corner.

If the songs represent a journey through the woods, then “Guide to the Unknown” is the takeoff point. It thrills with energy and possibility. We are leaving the comfort of domestication and running headlong into sun-dappled mystery. It is overwhelmingly joyful, not apprehensive. By the time we get to “Kyomei”, we are deep into the woods and come across a gentle waterfall. It affects us so much that Madoka stops the music for nearly a minute just to reflect on the timbre of babbling water.

All journeys come to an end, though. The journey of The Whale Forest has been a solitary one; a journey of discovering the joy of sounds around us, and maybe discovering a little bit of ourselves. “Swimming through the Forest” brings us to our conclusion, our re-entry into society. It is not a re-entry of sadness however. It is one of deep romantic feeling and hope. Its synth swells and chippering electronic pings create a rich backdrop to listen to its bell and piano melodies as you lay on the lawn in the moonlight.

So, while Madoka may be a misfit, she is a magnet who can pull others into her orbit rather than treading down well-beaten paths. Let The Whale Forest pull you in.



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