Ambient Music Legend Takada Green: “In Japan, Artists Are Growing Old” | Music

TonFew observers forget the sight of Takada green waving among drums, cymbals and marimba. She’s a mesmerizing performer with a lot of physical strength. That’s why she was called “the 70-year-old percussionist” Before the performance at the Melbourne Rising Festival — kind of like calling Paul McCartney an 80-year-old guitarist — making her smile. “It doesn’t tell the whole story,” she said, smiling genially. “I have more bowstrings than that.”

Takada made her name in music history with the enigmatic ambient classic Through the Looking Glass, which she recorded over two days in 1983, designed it herself and played gongs, ocarina, Bells and all other instruments. Despite the obscurity of the album, Takada has become a cult figure in recent years with her monk-like musicality and devout cataloguing of obscure world music. Meanwhile, her work has been revived for millennials and Gen Z alongside her contemporaries Brian Eno and Steve Reich through endless recycling on YouTube and social media.

She said the 2017 re-release of “Kyoka Suigetsu” (which happened after Takata had a chance to meet the retired producer on a subway platform) gained renewed attention, she said, especially after being hit by the pandemic. Before borders closed in 2020, she gave several concerts in Europe, the US and Australia. Japan, Covid killed all live performances. “Music, theatre and concerts are considered non-essential events,” she regrets. Throughout her life, Takata was first and foremost a pan-globalist, working with artists and styles across borders, so it’s clear that lockdowns hurt. She said she felt her creativity was being held back.

Takada began picking out Chopin chords at the age of six, while growing up in a cosmopolitan home in Tokyo. Her mother was a piano teacher who lived in Shanghai before World War II; her father taught English at university and founded the first Irish Literary Society in Japan. Her background and training, later at Tokyo University of the Arts, pulled her towards a career in performing Western classical music. But her restless artistic curiosity led her elsewhere, first playing drums and keyboards in an “embarrassing” prog rock band that parodied Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

After a brief stint as a soloist with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, Takada began producing and arranging his own music and forming percussion groups with other experimental musicians.

“I wasn’t at all interested in categorizing music by genre,” she recalls. “I was interested in what I was hearing about humanity. I realized what I’d been listening to was Western music.” She began to lean towards the saturation of African and Asian influences through the Mirror and her eventual personal follow-up, The Tree of Life (1999) . The style that has most influenced her is the structural rhythm of traditional Indonesian and Korean music. She especially likes the simplicity of both. “It’s unlike anything I’ve heard.”

Such an observation could be controversial in Japan, where she discovers a prejudice against Korean culture. But she doesn’t care because, she says, wherever she goes, she’s drawn to quality. “I work with traditional Korean musicians and performers and learn a lot from them,” she said. Deteriorating political relations between the two countries over the past few years has made such exchanges more difficult, frustrating her: “If you deny culture, humanity starts to go downhill. It’s part of our development.”

She believes concerts outlast minute political differences. “My music education began in the age of Australopithecus,” she said, referring to the African hominids sometimes called hominids. mother of man“Our relationship with rhythm music goes back 3.5 million years, even before Homo sapiens. It’s a very basic question – why do humans need to create rhythm, and the space that structure creates?”

Dan Grunebaum, founder of Japanese new music promotion company AvanTokyo, said her “phoenix-like re-emergence” from obscurity is now legendary. “It has also been rediscovered that she is a brilliant musician and engrossing performer, and her mastery of percussion and stage performance makes her one of the most commanding live performers today.”

Longevity is in her genes. Takata’s earliest music influencer — her mother — is still alive at 98. “In Japan, the artist goes to old age,” Takata said with a smile.