Some of the great composers of our generation aren’t conducting orchestras, they’re programming computers. No. 9’s Joe Takayuki joins Kieran Hebden (Fourtet), Richard D. James (Aphex Twin), Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin (Boards of Canada) as the men at the forefront of electronica. What separates them from any loner with a laptop and Warp aspirations is their ability to craft image-rich soundscapes that are both original and fascinating. Takayuki’s own niche lies somewhere in between acid-jazz and ambient glitch. His second full-length, Micro Films, advances his organic sound slowly from the country into the city of Tokyo.
Micro Films begins leisurely with “From Mushi-No-Ne,” a headphone masterpiece that blends left-right panning bleeps with crickets and the same soothing Japanese phrase sampled repeatedly until it fades into the next track. The second track, “Importance of Detection,” is a standout on an album full of them. The layers of female voices over mellow xylophone and keyboard riffs make this the rare electronic song that has the ability to get stuck in your head.
“Get Gut” showcases Takayuki’s more acid-jazz side with an upright bass riff over a glitchy beat reminiscent of Aphex Twin. “Emotion of Four Guitar” demonstrates Takayuki’s instrumental prowess with a six-string. The track consists solely of four guitars that are combined into an acoustic collage that gradually builds pace climaxing into “Then,,, Will Be Running.” The track serves as an extension of “Emotion of Four Guitar,” adding a loose beat and mellow keyboards. “Then,,, Will Be Running” is a perfect example of Takayuki’s ability to create something that’s more than the sum of its parts.
“And Laugh …” is a fitting finale that somewhat represents the whole album in a song. The 16-minute opus begins slowly with a piano line that eventually fades into an acoustic guitar lick. The beat kicks in around eight minutes, and not too long after, a sax starts wailing. By the time the track starts winding down with another keyboard line, the trip from the countryside to Tokyo and back feels complete. With Micro Films, Takayuki has crafted a beautiful journey that’s more rewarding with each listen.