Album: Nobukazu Takemura

Sign, Thrill Jockey
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The Independent Culture

Like his compatriot Susumu Yokota (whose records, oddly, he claims never to have heard), Nobukazu Takemura works at the interface of ambient and techno, chipping out digital environments from fragments of noise and hints of melody. Having contributed to the (dreadful) Reich Remixed tribute album to Steve Reich, he's sometimes regarded as a minimalist himself; given the way he marshals tiny flecks of sound into massive pieces, he's really more of a pointillist composer. On "Sign" and "Cogwheel", jittery little techno bubbles bounce around over skittering breakbeat grooves, like children on a strict diet of E-numbers, tripped up here and there by the skips, trips and glitches that are an increasingly familiar part of modern computer music. The children metaphor is apt, Takemura having stated that "making music for me is like a child humming" – and indeed, compared with the prickly nature of so much electronica from the likes of the Aphex Twin, there's a playful whimsicality to his tunes and textures that welcomes listeners in, rather than setting them sonic obstacle courses. The most appealing of the four tracks is the funky single "Meteor", with its little reggae offbeat and woozy, swaying accordion; less satisfying is "Souvenir in Chicago", a half-hour-long piece recorded with the guitarist Bundy K Brown, bassist Douglas McCombs and drummer John McEntire of Tortoise; though it's reminiscent of Faust in its forceful meandering and its blend of industrial drone and musique concrète, there's no equivalent sense of barriers being broken.