June 24, 2009

Nobukazu Takemura – Kobito No Kuni (Unreleased Tracks ~1999) (2007, Moonlit)

“Kobito No Kuni” is the most recent solo-release by Nobukazu Takemura, and his first since '03, although it is actually a collection of out-takes from my personal favorite time period of his works. Following the ground-breaking “Child & Magic” album in '97, which merged futuristic IDM and drum'n'bass programming with minimalist, neo-classical instrumentation and singing children, Takemura went deeper into abstraction with a pair of CDs produced for fashion designer Issey Miyake's shows in Italy in '99 entitled “Milano” and “Finale”. Both albums were firmly in the experimental neo-classical mode, using synthesized and real classical instrument sounds to create abstract textures and patterns that bring to mind Philip Glass or Steve Reich, but with a glitchy computerized edge. Takemura also developed his innovative “skipping CD shuffle” sound production technique around this time, in which he created spontaneous, glitchy looping patterns from brief snippets of what sounds like distorted chamber music. This method was used to critical acclaim on '99s “Scope”, released domestically by Thrill Jockey, which introduced many Americans to Takemura's sound. Beginning with the “Sign” EP in '00, Takemura began experimenting with generative hyper-IDM beats and lo-fi computer voice singing, taking his music in another, even more futuristic direction, but leaving behind much of the simplicity of his earlier neo-classical work. I am glad to find that “Kobito No Kuni” collects over 70 minutes of such material, and while two of the tracks clock in at about 18 minutes apiece and could probably have been half that, for the most part the pieces keep constantly moving and shifting in unexpected ways. The textures are at times both warm and organic, mellow and playful, as well as cold and digital, without getting too far into noisy DSP freak-out territory. According to Takemura's website, which has been “under construction” since '06, he spoke in March this year at the Japan Society in NYC alongside Steve Reich, and has recently relocated from Kyoto, Japan to Germany. I have been a big fan of Takemura's Childisc/Moonlit labels for nearly a decade now, and hope that more material along the lines of “Kobito No Kuni” will get released soon.