Fresh off the back of his soundtrack for the wonderful anime ‘Mirai’, which I adored, Masakatsu Takagi followed up the soundtrack with a piano collection entitled ‘Marginalia’ in December. It’s simple, warm and distinctly Japanese sentimentality makes it a relaxing body of work for 75 minutes of playful whimsy reflection.
Each track is associated with a number. #1 is a very breezy country stroll full of subtle rolls and gleeful flutters. Its unrushed approach sets the tone that #2 absolutely nails in its hushed and muted jazzy undertones. What stands out for me though is the warmth you get in a melancholy whimsy slice of life movie or anime that only Asian cinema seems to give proper sentiment to these days. #5 moves things into a floating shimmering watery world where the higher keys roll off like a butterfly wing having their own song whilst the rest of the piece plays underneath. It’s beautifully done and sounds like Takagi has four hands rather than two – a stand out for sure.
The nods to the slow lane of country life are present throughout. #8 marries the piano to bird song in a beautifully cute melody. #11, however, takes the wires from inside the piano to create an interesting prepared piano sound that evokes tiny insects. The album was recorded in a mountain surrounded studio and this old village life has soaked through every notes pore. #23 brings in a vocal performance which sounds like an old folk tale recording that is both curiously inviting but low key creepy too. #25 brings aboard the nighttime ambient of crickets as the guitar and voice of man gives way to the sway of natures night dance. In fact, the album closes with a lamenting sounding vocal and piano performance as the rain hammers down at the window. Nature is as much a part of this album as anything else.
‘Marginalia’ is such an interesting collection of piano pieces because there is an innate slow burn to almost all 13 tracks, yet they all come with their own twist on it. They either fuse with natures own soundtrack or with voices of the countryside and often it mixes that slow warm with something full of wisdom and eerie charm. Fans of Ryuichi Sakamoto will love this, but so may fans of Philip Glass too.
Recommended track: Marginalia #5
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