“A few years back, a friend of mine who is a film director told me that he is working on a new script based on Franz Kafka’s novel, “The Trial”. He already had a short draft shot by his film students and asked me to score a temp music for it. After reading the novel, I was really struck by the disturbing world the novel presented and also by an eerie similarity to the time we live in, even though it was written over 100 years ago. Almost immediately, I heard the sound inspired by the novel. Or rather, a specific feeling that I want to express became very clear to me. So I worked on several short pieces and those became the foundation of this 2nd part of my triptych electronics work.
I always had a reservation about doing “Drone” type music for myself. I thought that it was the most challenging music, not only to make it musically interesting but also to make sense of why I want to do it. However, I always loved something about a slowly evolving low oscillating sine wave tone, which for me has a specific feeling that can not be attained by any other means. And I wanted to work with that feeling in a musical project for a while. So, here was the chance and I took the challenge.”
– Satoshi Takeishi
Satoshi Takeishi is a well-known and experienced percussionist with a diverse and decades-long CV. The press pack comes complete with photos of him surrounded by drums and other percussive instruments. So listening to “Premonition” comes as something of a major surprise… there’s no percussion in it!
Inspired by Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” and originally intended as a temporary score to a film, this is stripped-down drone music- though I might prefer to call it ‘hum music’. From a synth, a ring modulator, an echo pedal and a bunch of computer pitchshifting comes a very pure soundscape of glacially-stepping sine waves.
The shifted alternating tones of “Abandoned Shadow” is the closest the work gets to conventional melodic progression, turning simple oscillations into an electronic ballad. In “Glimpse Of Silence” the modulation becomes more akin to alien vocalisations reminiscent of late 1960’s Radiophonic Workshop noises.
“Behind The Door” has, to contradict what I said earlier, a rhythm that’s almost percussive edging in with so much subtlety that it doesn’t break the flow. “Dichotomy Of Noise” toes a fine line between random arpeggiation and percussion and is the most jaunty and off-kilter section, it’s practically tongue-in-cheek. The opener “Prologue” and closer “Epilogue” bookend this relatively short album peacefully and appropriately.
It’s a beautifully restrained and simple collection of simple electronic ambiences with a net result that’s surprisingly warm and timeless. To me it’s more retro sci-fi than Franz Kafka, certainly, but I’d recommend it even more for that.
All pieces composed and performed by Satoshi Takeishi
Recorded by ORC, Brooklyn, NY. Nov 2015 Jan 2016
Mixed by Sam Owens (@ Figure 8 Studio, Brooklyn) and ORC, Aug 2016
Mastered by Lars Graugaard, Jan 2017
Satoshi Takeishi used Pocket Piano by Critter & Guitari, Moog MF102 Ring Modulator, Danelectro BLT slap echo pedal, frequency shifting computer processing
Cover Art by Satoshi Takeishi
It is surprising to know the background of Japanese drummer and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, as one listens to his release ‘Premonition’. A student of musicology, he developed a particular interest for traditional music from South America and the Middle East, a music very far from the brooding, gently pulsating and highly electronic music on this album. But it is in fact just one of the many facets of this New Yorker, who operates at the intersection of classical, jazz, ethnic, electronic and improvised music.
However, the main point with ‘Premonition’ is that it submerges you into a warm and cleansing sonic bath of a voluptuous and rounded sound that soaks you completely, reaching the innermost folds of the ear canal. The artist always manages to maintain his basic idea through the constant developments, so that a track never descends into pure hypnosis. But it does not really matter, because the music is first of all a true nectar for the spirit, a joy to the ear and an inspiring journey in sound.”
Many a sound artists has tried his hand at setting Franz Kafka’s classic works to music, and some impressive results have been had. Think of Lustmord’s Zoetrope (the score for “In the Penal Colony”) or Shinjuku Chief’s “The Scribbler” and like the latter, Satoshi Takeishi’s “Premonition” takes on Kafka’s “The Process”. Originally rooted in jazz and Latin American music, Takeishi works here with minimal electronic sounds, where isolated sinusoidal oscillations are gently modulated and superimposed. “Premonition” works with moods, not with melodies, as the literary model appropriately imparts Takeishi with simple means. Feelings of disorientation and abandonment; not necessarily nice, but certainly a strong acoustic experience.
The reading of Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ inspired Satoshi Takeishi to extensive drone studies, which are now available on ‘Premonition’. Dangerous stillness in stagnant sound. 4/5