Review of Tasogare: Live In Japan [12k2019]

Fluid Radio (UK)

Tasogare: Live In Tokyo is five tracks by five 12k artists, recorded live over two nights in temples in Tokyo, Japan in April 2010…

Initial impression? The major thing that separates Tasogare from a conventional live recording is a notable absence of any crowd noise. The primary defining characteristic of all other live shows you’ve heard in the past is the crowd chatter that opens tracks, before the music becomes the primary focus and the rabble stops to listen. The fact that this is missing speaks volumes about the project, and reinforces the reverent tone that flows through the DNA of the record. Even the closing track fades out gently without any audience interaction.

Reverent is the word, indeed; every artist bring their best foot forward and plant it carefully and wisely in very much the same space. Each brings character and mood of their own (which stops it from becoming stale or tedious). The sedate and respectful mood of the record is what differentiates this from studio excursions that possess more frenetic experimentation.

Minamo opens with some faintly piercing alarm tones, counterpointed with some mature flourishes. If you are a fan of insistent noise, you’ll find this to your liking. There’s some endearing complexity.

Sawako+Hofli provide a total counterpoint. After a diversion of an opening, the track opens up into a cinematic blanket of sound. The mood is elegant and considered, and the light chimes and drones are capable of totally distracting you from the outside world if you allow them to. The guitar and bird noise that closes the track (along with the gentle vocal work) gives the listener a nice melodic hook to hang onto.

Moskitoo’s track is an intelligent edit of three performances: a shivering electronic introduction mirrors her frail vocal contributions, before a clever arrangement of percussion and melody combine with her voice to become a texture. The closing third of her fifteen-minute opener is serene, thoughtful and affecting.

Solo Andata’s set is unsurprisingly the longest and the most cerebral, and is worthy of repeated spins for many reasons. There’s some pretty great layering happening here, with a lot of foreground action to centre it and provide depth. The band’s love of bottom end drone work is able to sit alongside a number of crunchy and percussive textures, and for a fan it is satisfying that the tone is consistent with their recent recorded material.

Taylor Deupree’s closing track runs the second longest behind Solo Andata’s at just over 16 minutes, and provides an optimistic and elegant note to finish the record on. As the sound of wispy pads, white noise and engaging clatter reverberate around your headphones; it’s not at all hard to imagine the tones echoing off reflective temple walls.

The record is successful on multiple levels – it captures the mood of the performances and the character of the artists. The sound design is unsurprisingly excellent, and is presented in a realistic yet dramatic context.

The press release that accompanies the record speaks of documenting snippets of time that are unable to be repeated, and from the overall tone of the performances that aim is definitely true. The serene and respectful music that emanated from within Japanese temples in April of last year would certainly evolve into a wildly different proposition if captured in another environment, and capturing these solid performances in this context makes this distinction.

Another point presented in the release is the collective spirit behind the record, and whilst it’s hard to present collective solidarity developed on tour in an audio context, the consistency of sound and surety of aim go a long way towards demonstrating this.

This window into 12k’s workings on the road is proof positive of the label’s stated aim – “Trying to create something beautiful, however small, in this oversaturated, violent world that we live in. A small space – a place to breathe.”
– Review by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio

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