by Vynil Vibes & Guglielmo Greco Piccolo – pictures by A. Forcione & Juliet S. Matthews
Imaginary Gardens and Electronic Forests
The Electro-ambience of Takashi Mori, the shaman of the hi-tech sound
If sound barriers, sounds in general, never really have pre-established boundaries or particularly limiting geographies, Takashi Mori might worthily represent the evolution of such a possibility.
Listening to each experiment in which sounds, impressions, visions and impulses are skillfully composed and orchestrated, in solo mode or even involving other performers, often, almost always of other cultural backgrounds, each piece of Takashi takes note after note, sound after sound, arrangement after arrangement, forms much more similar to time machines, carefully designed and linked to deeper states of Self and of elsewhere.
Each composition was born in observance of that ancient respect for deeper roots in the Japanese experimental avant-garde tradition, of which Ryuichi Sakamoto, is now recognised as the founder, pointing to a crossroad that has now become a portal to another dimension in which several performers have expanded their perceptions and variations on the theme.
Since the mid-1990s, following his experiments with drums and electronic percussion, Takashi Mori understands the most auspicious time to make a choice: his whole artistic and, perhaps, existential avatar had been, until then, in memory of the most illustrious predecessors of the avant-garde scene- now screaming the need for change, to traverse one stage of evolution in which certain atmospheric sounds had to look for a much more intense and continuous dialogue with the use of more complex and evocative acoustic technologies and architectures, like a real Stargate, able to shorten certain distances between aesthetics and the consciousness of the soul.
Takashi Mori, actually, rather than producing a particular kind of experimental music genre, has painted virtually wonderful winter gardens and extraordinary walkways in which virtual and imaginary other worldly forests are located and, precisely for this reason, are still protected in a universe that is mostly unexplored and ever more strange: the Macroverse in ourselves; because we are still too busy watching and wasting every possible packaged stimulus that capitalist society, all obsessively commercial and productive, has so skillfully prepared and created with the sole purpose of cancelling our sense of self, starting with the progressive obscuring of our history, our daily stories, and most importantly, everything we were before.
In a society as highly and hyper-frenetically technological as Japan, currently, the nation with the highest number of child suicides, which has come to the point of remodeling, almost to eradication, thousands of years of history through the use and abuse of technology, Takashi Mori decides, instead, the best combination of the uses of technology that will be truly democratic and creatively fruitful.
His EP, which boasts collaborations such as the Norvegian multi-performer Rhys Marsh and the American poetress, Ingrid Chavez in ‘Unit’ and the Japanese Vivi, in ‘Shelter’, is a true experimental offering in which Takashi collects into authentic cameos, with great technical and expressive virtuosity, loads of intimate depth; a further demonstration of how new technologies, cultural background, and a willingness to open up to new worlds and cultures almost always offer results of great aesthetic and emotional impact.
Just let yourself sink into a comfortable armchair, fasten your seatbelts as if in a time travelling spaceship, until you surrender to the motions of refined structures from various visual sonorities of Takashi Mori, uncovering your eyes after the first tracks, to take a journey toward a Japan that speaks different languages, that presents several different intense and cosmopolitan stories , where new existential and ideological matrices no longer appear, perhaps, to be so terrifying.
Takashi Mori Interview
1) Hello, nice to meet you Takashi. To enter immediately into your artistic personality, what influences have new technologies had on your professional profile? Have they added something or have they even taken something away from the more conventional term musician?
T.M. I think ‘new technologies’ is the accumulation of musical and technical elements in conventional terms, basically. ‘New technologies’ give us the efficiency of time and the possibility of becoming "multi talented artists".
Now I am a drummer and a recording engineer, programmer of my own studio, composer of my own music. But, If now was the 80s' or before, I would have needed a lot of time to be a recording engineer and a big fund for the equipment to have my own studio. I would never have had the space in my life to be a drummer.
2) Before being a composer or, if you like, an experimenter with sound, you specialized in sound engineering. How much does precise and sophisticated technology matter to you when recording an album and how important, instead, is spontaneity and depth in the lyrics and compositional structures?
T.M. For me, manipulating equipment for recording is the same as playing a musical instrument or conducting an orchestra. There is no significant difference for me between ‘engineer’, ‘composer’ or ‘player’.
3) Takashi Mori's music often involves performers who don't always come from your native land. In ‘Shelter’, are placed two cameos of two vocalists, the Japanese Vivi and Ingrid Chavez, which have nothing really to do with the typical sounds of the contemporary Japanese scene only. Why such a different alchemy: did you seek them out, or the contrary?
T.M. Fortunately, we know each other purely through our creation. ‘Foreign artist’ is not important. However, It is very exciting to know the different ideas or methods of producing music of artists in different countries.
So called SNS (like MySpaceMusic or Facebook) have enabled me to connect with people overseas.
Sometimes, a sort of SNS is useful when artist meets artist directly via sound without intermediaries.
4) Your sounds and atmospheres produce, without a shadow of a doubt, special visions, upon listening. How do you explain this? Is it coincidence or is your music really able to open large imaginary portals that are present in everyone but that few are able to see when they are listening?
T.M. I believe that the innovative, experimental posture of creation may occasionally open new portals in the hearts and minds of many people.
‘Cubism’ is a prime example of an artistic movement that invaded popular culture.
5) How do the two disciplines of photography and music relate to each other in your creative life?
T.M. When I make music or play drum, I don't think about ‘music’. I always imagine something like visuals. When I take pictures, I don't think about "photography". I feel music in the object.
6) If you were to work with some visual artists who certainly would find in your own sounds, true and open laboratories for the production of visual ideas and projects, what would you rather see, sophisticated virtual technology or urban or rural scenarios, as appropriate, to promote some tracks?
T.M. Actually, I do not want to have my own complete visual image of my music if I collaborate with some visual artist. I look forward to the unpredictability of collaboration with a visual artist.
7) Between East and West new ambiguities are still possible. Did it all start and end with the phenomenon of Ryuchi Sakamoto in cooperation with several performers such as Alva Noto, David Sylvian and many others, or is there still much to discover and reinvent in the cooperation between such culturally different worlds?
T.M. I'm not sure if cultural mixing in music is still exciting or not for the audience.
However, collaboration with different countries' artists always makes us excited.
8) Today we are all, to some extent, citizens of the world, and this is not just a tag. How important is it to remain rooted in ones origins or how much more important is it to be open to new cultures, however different they are?
T.M. I think that thinking about our own roots makes new culture. Creation is like travel or searching for one's roots. "Who am I ?…". I always feel happiness when the audience starts to think about their own roots through listening to music (encountering great creations).
For that, I'd like to play music not only for Japanese people but for everyone.
9) What are you working on now? What would you like to tell us about it?
T.M. I'm preparing for next concert of Takashi Mori; a solo performance in Tokyo.
In this concert I express my style of solo performance, more visually and interactively with visual programmer ‘Masakazu Watanabe’.