Of Lumines, Columns II and Virtua Fighter game, Takayuki Nakamura has enjoyed a lengthy career that’s been punctuated with flurries of activity. “Who WIll Leave This World” is a collective works that showcases various ways Nakamura composes and opens you up beyond the usual arcade beats he is best known for.
Opening with the title track, it’s a solemn piano and synth string melody that slowly develops into a reverberant skipping heart beat that straddles an unusual line of lacking any real bass and energy whilst having an uplifting guitar solo. The result is that instead of feeling elated, you actually feel empty. “The Other Side of the Blue Light” follows a similarly sad and downcast mood but is more ethereal with its sweeping arpeggios and shimmering keyboards. This track feels like it should be used against time-lapse photography as it has a timeless vibe. “Flashing Memory” on the other hand plays with urgency and delayed reverb in a very Lumines-esque track. The signature hard clunky piano is here in full force whilst the rest of track builds into a mono-chord of rocking instruments as an electric guitar wails over the top. It’s impressive how much using almost a single chord for four minutes can sound so fresh each time.
“LFO 1” takes things on a more abstract twist with hidden beats and pulses repeating and glitching whilst falling from either side of your ear. It’s complimented nicely with “LFO 2” that feels like the same music placed through entirely different filters as the sound drops in and out per beat. It gives the track a certain depth and drive that makes it stand out. The two are separated by the awesomely titled “Holiday Machine” which is the most electronica driven piece on the album so far. It’s driving beat and chord looping push the track on and whilst the dance sound is very late 90’s, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It doesn’t sit still and does a lot with just a few ideas. Nakamura certainly utilises EQ filters to perfection.
“Stop Motion” moves into the realms of Trip Hop with a beat that simply does not sit still. It’s like a drummer is constantly free-styling and each little shake off the beat feels unique from the last. Where the percussion is so chunky it elevates the soft keyboards and guitar harmonics from a celestial beauty into a real journey. It’s an album stand out. “Slip the Highway” is a short rubber bassline lo-fi track that has an electric piano feeling almost improvised over the top of it. It breaks down nicely for the very short “Mode 1” which feels like a menu screen or a get ready screen with just a singular pulsing note and beat. The album ends with “Eneshif” which moves things into a dramatic and uplifting finale with soaring strings accompanied with a rousing guitar sliding up the notes. It’s a shame this track isn’t longer because it’s absolutely fantastic whilst it’s going but at 90 seconds, I would have yummed up 90 more!
“Who Will Leave This World” is a tad uneven but it’s a timely reminder that Nakamura can certainly make some interesting music and although he has a unique style, it can be applied to great effect in many ways. Lumines fans pull up a chair – you’ll be right at home here.