Satoshi Takeishi | Fragments
With a running time of just over thirty-three minutes, this new one by Japanese multi-instrumentalist Satoshi Takeishi has truly stirred-up my weekend listening. Though he’s been recording with various collaborators since 2003, Fragments is only his third solo album over these many years – his previous were Dew Drops (2016), and Premonition (2017) – both appearing on Danish imprint Clang. To create this new set of ten tracks this is how Takeishi approached Fragments:
The making process of Fragments was quite simple (as in his previous triptych works). Satoshi gathered various not-so- professional musical instruments and electronic gadgets sitting around in his apartment and recorded a few rounds of improvisations for each instrument. He then set himself to stay out of any particular musical style or pattern, focusing on getting the sound of the instrument to tell a simple story. Then using a low-bit sampler software, he performed another round of improvisations using the previously recorded improvisation materials. Some of them went thru cassette recorder and toy sampler keyboard for further audio manipulation. Satoshi spent most of his time choosing and mixing the right passages and phrases to construct the final structure.
Corrupted Realm opens with a series of percussive thrumming, tweaking strings and some assorted toy sounds. It’s a embossed sound, hollow with a slight reverb. If this were out jazz it would be really far out there. I enjoy sounds of metallic rolling, and the nested Japanese sensibility, that still manages to break with its heritage. The pings and small clanging is layered in a wondrous collage.
Takeishi manages to bring a playful side to his improvisational style by incorporating a host of instruments: Broken Autoharp, Old Log Drum, Really Broken Toy Piano, Thumb Piano and African Marimba from Gift Shop, Glockenspiel for Children, Prepared Banjo, Prepared Hammered Dulcimer, SONY Handheld Cassette Recorder, Yamaha VSS30 as Sampler, Various Audio Processing Softwares. Futura seems to be a series of space-lab blips, in a computer language that will have to be decoded. It’s wired, fueled by bots and striking signals that are stunted and dynamic. With our world becoming more automated and virtual all the time, he brings us a glimpse of a future tailored to our every button click.
The atmosphere is brightly speckled with spontaneous play. On both Initiation and Fragment I he seems to develop an alternate reality, one that would perk up the ears of any faithful science fiction geek, yet he does so under the auspices of the hypothetical. It’s a world that is artificially slowed down, experimenting with all the spare parts of a most inventive toolbox. Every track has its own personality, almost like a tropical haiku. There is this island-style theme running through “El Diablo” and elsewhere – a bit anxious, exploratory, rattling from the inside-outwardly.
The apparatus seems to fray at the springs on the aptly titled Unfolding. It’s a very tactile set of string plucking, glockenspiel and glossy surfaces coming together in a kaleidoscopic layering if complex sounds that pair well. In the end Fragment II takes us deep inside the mechanisms of an amplified music box. Tiny parts and pieces seem gigantic as Takeishi rustles with the innards, bringing it to life with an anticipatory sense of longing. The animated work recalls childlike dreams of toys frolicking to their own drummer. They are in good hands.
This new recording has just been released online via Bandcamp. You can also have a listen to his previously mentioned efforts in his trio of releases: