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Takagi Masakatsu: Journal for People

Takagi Masakatsu: Journal for People

Release Date:2006

By Marc Masters | Posted 4/26/2006

It would be easy to dismiss the
ambient music of Japanese multimedia artist Takagi Masakatsu as sonic wallpaper. His gentle electronic compositions can drift from hypnotism into boredom, and his techniques—soft glitches looped into lilting melodies, natural sounds filtered through computers, dramatic piano doused with reverb—are so common (see Oval, Aphex Twin, Labradford) that his work sometimes feels too familiar. But the shimmering songs on Journal for People are so thoughtfully conceived and carefully constructed that repeat listens reveal a deeper complexity.

The opening “Uter, Pt. 1” slowly chops the rhythms of an acoustic guitar into a fine mist, while on “Uter, Pt. 2” sparkly blips congeal into a lonely piano, like stars forming a constellation. On “Birdland,” a reflecting riff recalls the minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass at its glossiest. People’s peak comes in a trilogy of tracks called “Ketle,” as Masakatsu uses similar sounds to produce three divergent results: drizzling electronic rainfall, a chugging two-step beat, and a folky melody.

Throughout People, Masakatsu discovers large aural spaces inside his small sounds, like mushroom clouds spawned from split atoms. This knack for turning specifics into a universe is most vivid on the companion DVD. Set to music from the CD, Masakatsu’s loops of falling water, rotating carnival rides, and gliding ice skaters become mesmerizing meditations. The clips illustrate Masakatsu’s biggest strength: the ability to dissect and inflate simple reality by repeating it infinitely.

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