When this feature first found its footing one of the initial participants was Ripley Johnson from Moon Duo / Wooden Shjips who dug deep on a sorely lost Aussie stunner from Fabulous Diamonds. A year on, and quite a few more Gems later, its great to now have both halves of the duo represented with a pick from Ripley’s partner in crime Sanae Yamada. With dozens of great Moon Duo records in her portfolio, Yamada broke out solo with her hypnotic new outing this year as Vive La Void. I was intrigued to see what Yamada’s pick would be, given her background in synth / psych / Kosmiche and as always the picks wind up being great surprises that further add to my own need to get to the record store. Sanae picked the 1983 album, Through The Looking Glass, from Japanese percussionist Midori Takada. She goes in depth on how the record came her way and how its impacted her own writing.
“When I was offered the chance to write something for Hidden Gems,” Yamada muses, “Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass was first and foremost in my mind. I’m not sure if I can still pass it off as a “hidden” gem, as it got a good amount of very deserved attention when it was reissued last year by Palto Flats/We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want. But it is absolutely a gem, and it was incredibly hard to come by until quite recently. Also I just love it so much, and I think it deserves more attention still.”
Recalling how she connected with the album, Sanae says, “I first heard this record about four years ago, in the course of a YouTube video-chain expedition, and it was one of those moments when the turning of the world seems to slow. A door opened in my brain and showed me something vast. I have listened to it countless times since then, and it is never the same experience twice. This record has had a huge impact on me, and its influence seem to continuously keep unfolding. I think of it in an aspirational way, not so much the particulars of Midori Takada’s sound or style (those are hers alone), as that she seems to work from a space where it is possible to mainline the realm of the subconscious into a piece of recorded music.”
“It seems worth noting that Midori Takada has done a lot of work in the realm of theater,” Yamada notes, “as this album has the feeling of wordless storytelling, a kind of play staged in four acts wherein the plot is astral projection. The Alice In Wonderland reference of the title fits the portal-like quality of the music perfectly. ‘Mr. Henri Rousseau’s Dream’ (track 1) is named for a painting (Henri Rousseau’s last work) of a nude reclining in an other-worldly, moonlit jungle boudoir. The piece feels like waking in this unknown realm – its atmosphere, the music of the shadowy spirit figures that move among the tall grass and fleshy flowering trees. From there one is transported (transmigrated?) through the prismatic dimensions of ‘Crossing, Trompe-l’oeil,’ and ‘Catastrophe.’ Each is unique from the rest yet they are held seamlessly together by some palpable internal law.”
She continues, “Apparently Takada played a wide array of instruments in the recording process – drums, gongs, ocarinas, marimbas, reed organs and Coke bottles filled with various levels of water – and the way she combines them is at once minimal and complex, familiar and alien. Along with elements of theater, it has elements of sculpture, horticulture, molecular experimentation. It gives me a sense of total environment – natural, elemental, and occupied by a system of diverse life forms that each behave uniquely and independently yet feed each other in a cycle of completion.”
Well as Sanae notes, despite the reissue this one still eludes many, myself included. So, I’ll thank her gladly for the introduction here. The record is just as otherworldly as she describes and a true work of art that’s great to have back in the physical realm. The record is, in fact, still available from WRWTFWW Records in both a standard LP and a deluxe 2LP 45 cut. Likewise, if you’re still unfamiliar with Yamada’s own great work from this year, check out the debut from Vive La Void on Sacred Bones.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.