- This time last year, the recorded output of Japanese percussionist and composer Midori Takada was hard to find, save for a peculiar YouTube autoplay function that pushed Takada's exquisite (and expensive) 1983 masterpiece Through The Looking Glass in such a way that it was played 1.6 million times. Those videos have since been taken down, but the album was reissued earlier this year by Palto Flats and We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want. The latter label has now reissued Takada's 1990 follow-up, Lunar Cruise, a collaboration with the renowned Japanese pianist and jazz composer Masahiko Satoh.
Satoh has had a long recording career, with albums that date back to the late '60s. He's made music alongside free jazz players like Steve Lacy and Peter Brötzmann, as well as Gary Peacock and Toots Thielemans. Released seven years after Through The Looking Glass, Lunar Cruise straddles the line between Satoh's versatile playing and Takada's meticulous percussion. The CD reissue opens with "Iron Paradise," which is sleek and strange at first pass. Wonky digital bass, courtesy of Haruomi Hosono, and squalling synth lines mark Takada's steadfast percussion, her fills more grand than anything on Through The Looking Glass. Hosono also contributes to "Madorone," a queasy ambient piece of disembodied voices, rubbed wineglass drones and Takada's small percussive accents.
Takada's more measured, gamelan-like timbres can be found on the second track, "Nahm," entwining with Satoh's more overt melodies. "Ancient Palace" hews even closer to the template established on Through The Looking Glass, with gongs resonating in negative space and marimba lines bringing to mind sunlight rippling on a river's surface. The latter instrument also surfaces on "In "D"," which resembles a pitched-up Steve Reich's "Six Marimbas." "Monody" shows how well the two artists combined, with Satoh's sparkling melodies out in front.
The album's longest composition showcases Takada's dynamic playing. "Chang-Dra" builds for two minutes with little more than the sound of struck metal, a tom roll slowly emerging underneath it. The middle section of the piece finds Takada toggling between many different rhythmic patterns, a showstopping display of her drumming talent. Satoh is a good foil for Takada, pushing her rhythms into prog, synth pop and new age realms. On Lunar Cruise, he helps bring out another side of Takada's sound.
01. Iron Paradise
03. Ancient Palace
04. A Vanished Illusion
07. In "D"
10. Lunar Cruise