(2013) Label: Lunisolar Records
STYLE: dronescapes, classic ambient, trance
1. Higurashi (16:22)
2. Nirvana Électronique (16:24)
3. Maitrī (16:02)
4. Transcendence (16:58)
Time on Synth Caresses for quality ambient. Ambient in the classical sense of the term. Time for Japanese musician Juta Takahashi and his, so far, latest work, “Transcendence”.
For the making of this album Mr Takahashi blends an array of synthesisers and ethnic instruments. I must say that I love the artwork, and I also find the titles to the tracks fantastic. What you find here are relaxing drones, great sound textures and trance-inducing, mantra-like atmospheres from beginning to end. “Basically, I produce music in order to make listeners feel calm, relaxed, and comfortable. Though I objectively know that I sometimes use relatively aggressive sound, I believe it doesn't even make listeners uncomfortable with my music. However, there's no strict rule. I want to make music freely as ever.”
Juta uses both hardware and software synths. “I own an Access Virus TI2 Polar and a Yamaha Motif ES6 as hardware synth. Though I owned a Minimoog and a Korg Polysix also, the huge earthquake* made them expire. I use lots of software plug-ins as well.” Juta’s line of work depends on the occasion: “There's no set rule, but I improvise generally. Though I sometimes start from a given idea, the music varies impromptu. I occasionally devote myself to sound design without definite purposes. For example, I made the sitar-like drone on 'Nirvana Électronique' several years ago.”
*(Juta refers to the earthquake that hit the Northeast of Japan on March 11, 2011. “I’m a resident in Sendai. Though the huge tsunami didn’t reach my house fortunately, my studio and gear were damaged by the earthquake.”)
(Juta Takahashi playing guitar (YAMAHA SL-700C, Ebony) in studio, in May, 1994 when he was 34 years old)
With ten albums in his catalogue he always tries to “avoid doing the same thing. So, I believe that my music changes every time I release a new album and that I grow as a musician as well.”
“Many people say that my ambient music is unique and I think my fans like its uniqueness. But I've never intended to make it unique. I've been doing only what I want to do. I'll keep myself being that I am.” And Juta can certainly take pride in stating that his music has a sense of uniqueness indeed.
The digital artwork deserves a special mention. On the cover we find "The Garden of Eden", by German artist Nicolas Monin-Baroille aka TheUnknownBeing, a designer and illustrator based in Offenburg. His stunning visual work for this album can be found in a larger, higher-res view here:
(Nicolas Monin-Baroille aka TheUnknownBeing)
Juta’s tenth release contains four pieces, all of them slightly above the quarter of an hour mark. It begins with “Higurashi”, which paves the way for a long journey of extended drones, crystalline sounds, and long-held notes that take inspiration from Gagaku, the oldest of the Japanese traditional performing arts. A musical style that contains long, slow songs and dance-like movements. On this composition, we find Juta imagining a Japanese forest of late summer evening. A higurashi is a common type of cicada in Japan. It’s delicate music that slips through your fingers.
(Juta’s Yamaha Motif ES6)
“Nirvana Électronique”, my favourite title here, contains a heavy-going sitar-like drone that crosses the track from beginning to end. It “leads you to the liberation from desires.” It also contains the sound of the Erhu. “I used a Chinese violin, Erhu, plug-in as the lead instrument on 'Nirvana Électronique',” comments Juta. The evocative power of the combination of sounds Juta Takahashi employs here is really awesome.
By the third track, “Maitrī”, the album is getting better and better. Maitrī means “mercy” in Sanskrit. “It's a tune for merciful Maitreya,” says Juta, “for whom I have a sincere regard.” This piece, as well as the closer, seems to be less lineal and tend to swell and slowly mutate, unlike their two previous tracks.”Maitrī” begins with bell sounds over soft drones; later one, shimmering mirages start to come up. This piece treads on spongy clouds that drift slowly.
“Transcendence”, the album title track, represents Juta’s yearning for sublimation. This closer starts in a more dramatic way. The tension is kept throughout the composition as the thick walls of sounds fill in our listening space. There’s truly genius at work here. A close listen will reveal the magic of Juta’s music. What a fascinating track to end the album. Simply great.
All the music contained here presents a great respect to silence. Notes come from silence and gradually return to it, as a life cycle.
“Transcendence” got selected as Monthly Top 20 Albums for October, 2013 and for January, 2014 at Galactic Travels; as one of December 2013 Top 15 STAR'S END Release; and as as one of Significant Releases of 2013 at STAR’S END.
“I always think that music must be musical and have an aura of glamour, even if it is ambient music. This belief of mine may make the characteristics of my music.” [Juta Takahashi]
To listen to the tracks on “Transcendence” visit: http://www.jutatakahashi.com/
A sample of Gagaku art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OA8HFUNfIk