Takecha – Deep Soundscapes [Love Potion]

Hugh Helmore puts the microscope to Takecha’s Deep Soundscapes, released earlier this year on Love Potion. 

A veteran of Japan’s house scene, Takecha (Takeshi Fukishima) has been involved in the writing, production and arrangement of tracks for nearly 30 years. Famously, he touts Soichi Terada as one of his best friends, a musician of similar calibre whose subtle and minimal dance tracks have clearly had an influence on Takecha’s 2018 release, Deep Soundscapes.
This distinctive sound was borne borne from early Japanese video game soundtracks, evidenced in the background of many of the artists from this milieu (such as Terada himself) as early game soundtrack designers. Due to the limited production and arrangement technology available at the time, the musicians were made to indulge in an extremely sparse sound, both in number and range of synthesised instruments. In more recent years, this approach to creating sound seems to have permeated into the techniques of producers worldwide – perhaps because electronic dance music usually takes a nominal perspective with regards to production, allowing for a seamless crossing of cultural barriers. This is probably more recently apparent in the popularity of albums promoted by Youtube algorithms, which are often somewhat old and obscure but exist as a cross between rhythmic and ambient music that allows them to be flexible in a variety of situations. Interestingly, varieties of house music are, on occasion, considered within this odd sub-section of grooves, which demonstrates where Deep Soundscapes‘ heritage lies in the modern space.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Z5BGZ87jc&w=550&h=425]

Where it was a necessity for early electronic music to be simplistic in terms of composition, early composers ended up utilising this hinderance as a virtue in the aim of popularising the genre. This is perhaps the reason for the continued focus on quality melodic structure, evident in both vintage and modern tracks. Throughout Deep Soundscapes, Takecha makes prominent use of minimal melodics, evoking a nostalgic atmosphere hidden within subterranean grooves. One particular image that comes to mind is that of a synthesised quartet, where a limited amount of instruments harmonise and interacting with each other to bring out a reflective, wistful sound. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the first three tracks on the album (‘Deep Drive’, ‘Midnight Things’, ‘Gradual Atmosphere’), which establish the theme of instrumental essentialism that goes on to be manipulated throughout the rest of the tracks.
The rhythm section bears a strong influence from classic house music, with the underlying beats playing a familiar, driving four-to-the-floor rhythm for the majority of the record. Considering the floating ambience evoked by the melody, it’s surprising that the relatively intense drum machines make an appearance at all; yet, they bring out an almost perfect counter-harmony, rendering a subtly surreal take on old school club music.
That being said, there are some surprisingly dark tunes. Take ‘Factory 141’, for example, which harnesses some of the harsher synthesised drum sets to create a steam-fuelled industrial atmosphere that fits unusually snug amongst the ethereal electronic soundscapes that make up the rest of the album. With modern dance music moving so quickly both in terms of technological and compositional development, it’s fascinating to experience an album that abides by such a deeply laid tradition whilst approaching the limitations of its spiritual predecessors in an unquestionably contemporary fashion.
Even without such a perspective, Deep Soundscapes certainly holds its own in the minimal house canon, although without today’s popular idea of a blurred generic barrier there’s the risk that the full forty-five minutes might come off as a tad too long. Still, it’s a joy to hear the work of an artist who has been so persistent in their craft for so long, and who continues to take exceptional pride in the music they produce.

You can get Takecha’s
Deep Soundscapes as a double LP over at Juno. Did you enjoy this article? Remember to like us on Facebook for more reviews, features and mixes straight from the 45turns steam room. 

Benedek – Earlyman Dance EP [Second Circle]

Benedek supplies the tenth outing on Music From Memory’s more shuffle orientated counterpart, Second Circle. 

Hailed as the progenitor of ‘balearic funk’, Benedek has forged a name with standout releases on Peoples Potential Unlimited and Leaving Records. This next release on Second Circle is another step in the right direction for the LA-based DJ and producer.
‘Sub Terra’ is a giant robot guzzling humans at the crack of dawn on the streets of Koreatown, LA. The Uplift mix, which covers the rest of side A, strips the tune down, honing in on that springy bassline and building things back up with soft, delay-soaked percussion.
Over on the flip ‘Maca’ is cheeky undulating fun with flecks of acid around the sides, while ‘Timbalito’ introduces a spaced-out vibe workout to the sordid tones of synth bass and trumpet. Final track ‘Nucid’ slows things down with a subdued space romp more reminiscent of an outing on sister imprint Music From Memory. Overall, peaceful and meditative stuff that could also work in a club or festival setting.
Pick up Earlyman Dance at musicfrommemory.com. Remember to like 45turns on Facebook to stay in the loop on the best new balearic, funk, disco, house and world releases on vinyl and beyond. 

Watch Benedek’s live session on Resident Advisor, performing ‘Earlyman Dance’, which would later become ‘Sub Terra’:

Kazumi Watanabe – Garuda [Jazzy Couscous]

Cheekily named Jazzy Couscous have brought out an ambient experiment by Japanese jazz maestro Kazumi Watanabe that got lost somewhere in the 80s. It’s intricate and ethereal, conjuring up rainbow tones in high-fidelity.. Accompanying it is a sort of balearic remix from Kuniyuki, who adds tribal and natural elements to mesmerising effect.

Mood-making solitary listening.
Garuda was released on 26/3/18, and you can find it over at Juno

Balearic Social – Mushrooms Project [BSR007]

Balearic Social really have built up a reputation with consistently excellent releases that run like water. It was only a matter of time before downtempo psych masters Mushrooms Project made it onto the imprint, and it’s as lucidly head-spinning as you’d expect.

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Emerge, sun-dazed, from the baking humidity of Motolani into the Chillin’Dretti night, where vagabonds wander the steppes in search of little circle-shaped relief. Truly as balearic as you could want.

BSR007 will be out in late 2017. It might be tricky to find online- ask your record dealer. You can keep up to date with Balearic Social on Facebook

Agnes Obel – Stretch Your Eyes (Quiet Village Remix) [Phonica]

The sixth instalment of Phonica’s small batch Special Editions series sees Quiet Village turn out a dark, atmospheric groove from an album track by Danish vocalist/pianist Agnes Obel.

The main track on this disc is a slow burner that never quite climaxes, and you wouldn’t really want it to. Instead, Quiet Village treat us to nine minutes of smoky beats and sizzling pads that underpin it with something frantic, a sprint that never arrives, the perpetual car-chase, or haunted by the chase of your own tail. On the flip you’ll find the lush Agnes Obel acapella.

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(45turns tip: a killer set opener)

Phonica Special Editions 006 is available on the 6th October. You can pre-order it over at the Phonica site