I love Takagi Masakatsu’s music. I don’t know much about him but, as far as I can tell, he travelled the world asking people to sing or play one melody, ‘The Light Song’. Hopeful piano riffs mix with childrens’ choirs, found sounds and scratchy processes. If I could sum up what I know of his music in one word, that word would be ‘playful’.
Sometimes Masakatsu’s music seems too straightforwardly happy, sentimental, simple in tone and texture. But there’s a sadness in the happiness, and vice versa. One new year’s eve I remember listening to a Dntel record in a backroom of a party. An acquantaince entered the room and said “I don’t know whether this music makes me feel happy or sad.” Wild times! A lot of the music I like has that kind of ambivalence. It’s a trait Masakatsu shares with Akira Kosemura. Their music can be uncomfortably direct in its evocation of beauty. Kosemura’s Twitter bio describes him as a “composer for capturing the beauty”. No need to say of what, I suppose. That simple ambition leaves traces of its hidden depth everywhere. Ambiguity arises. As the notes decay they leave an impenetrable silence and simplicity becomes the most unfathomable thing of all.
In any case, Takagi Masakatsu’s music isn’t always easy to listen to. It’s filled with ideas and sometimes weird cacophony, like breathing sounds or semi-musical noise. This is pretty strange, for example. Who has the right to say whether such choices are the result of a composer adding texture, trying to be ‘experimental’, or satisfying an unknowable itch of self-expression? The same is true of Kosemura’s Polaroid Piano. A sound like tree branches clawing the roof of a cabin persists throughout the entire record. It’s a unifying effect, as if you really were in that cabin while the piano played start to finish in one take.
Whether intended or not, the use of sound effects has a particular purpose and effect. It makes a recording definitive, specific, beyond the reach of notation. And when sound effects become part of the music, music itself becomes a sound effect. All that mesmeric tinkling is suddenly specific and incidental. Like everything else, it’s a ‘one off’ captured in a world which, as one of Masakatsu’s album titles tells us, is so beautiful.
Takagi Masakatsu links
Akira Kosemura links