Label: Not on Label - none Format: Cassette Country: Japan Released: 2022 Genre: Electronic, Folk world & country Style: Abstract
Endearing home-made naive pop self-released by Japanese artist Takashi Hishigaki!! (Mint / New)
I completed a new album, titled time. The project was itself a long time in the making, recorded slowly but surely over the intervening years.
A lot has happened since I released my last solo album in 2006. My immediate environment has morphed at a dizzying pace. I have worked many jobs, lived in many homes, and watched my family grow. At times, music took a backseat to the hectic rhythms of daily life. Yet not a day went by when I did not think about my album in progress.
The creator of an album is also its first listener—my ears proved equal parts friend and foe.
As a self-taught musician, my sense of self has been shaped by the music I enjoy listening to each day. Spanning eras and continents, these influences branch out around me like a verdant aural forest, but at times have also seemed like an insurmountable hedgerow blocking my own path ahead. Embarrassed by a seeming inability to produce something of my own, I long felt unworthy of facing my peers, and spent years shirking the shadows, as if in an attempt to hide my own existence.
A turning point came when I quit my office job and became a landscaper. The time spent feeling the warm sun on my skin surrounded by nature’s green brought a newfound calm that had a significant positive impact on my activities as an artist. The meditative act of plucking weeds cleared my head, making room for new ideas that I would hum into the voice memo app on my phone whenever inspiration struck. Now that I was my own boss, I could better plan my schedule, and make the time needed for my album.
Of course, the writing process is easier said than done. All too often, I would sit down with my instrument and end up with nothing to show for the day. I might spend months working on a song, only to scrap it and flop feebly on my bed. Despite the ever-growing weight of adulthood on my shoulders and the need for money to simply survive each day, I found myself sinking an inordinate amount of time and expense on this project with no discernible end in sight. Enviously eyeing the deluge of new albums released each day, I felt increasingly disgusted with myself, and wondered: What was the point? Evidently, I didn’t have what it takes to churn out music like all those other artists.
I can hear you saying, “If you were so miserable, why didn’t you just throw in the towel?” As much as I suffered trying to make music, I felt even more miserable when there was no music in my life. Although I reached a point where a saner person would have given up, I pushed onward, stepping stubbornly over the point of no return.
The mountain climber’s heart sinks when he sees the summit from a distance. From afar, the precipitous mountain face looks so impossibly sheer. But upon closer inspection, he finds enough footholds to reach the other side. Similarly, I resolved to surmount this album step by step, song by song. Thus began my methodical ascent. After arriving at a general concept for a track, the next step was to map out the arrangement and orchestration. After anchoring in the instrumentals in rehearsal, I needed to rig up the mic and hit record. With the recording safely cleared, I next needed to chisel away at the mixing. Along the journey, I was supported by makeshift instruments repurposed from my home, junk instruments pulled from the shelves of thrift shops, and other instruments borrowed from friends.
In this day and age, you can make an album entirely on the computer, without even touching a physical instrument. But I think digital production software sounds too tidy, too sanitized. I prefer the distortion that comes from vibrations in real air—after all, what sounds sweeter than the warbling of a gramophone? Needless to say, I find working on a PC to be frustratingly unwieldy. As such, I recorded this entire album on my trusty hard-disk and 4-track cassette recorders, encouraged along by the tracks that steadily came together, seemingly by whim.
I initially considered sending this album to a few established labels, but digging my heels into the DIY spirit, decided to release it myself on cassette. I am profoundly grateful to Shinichi Suda(Twoth), who magically mastered the original 16-bit files with his characteristic sensitivity and grace.
If you’re reading this, odds are you share my slightly eccentric tastes in music, and are perhaps a creator in your own right. Although this album was the painstakingly inefficient product of many years bygone, I humbly hope that it may provide a modicum of inspiration or even encouragement—from one music fan to another.
- December 2022, Takashi Hishigaki (Translated by Philip Gayle)
1. furiko 03:59 2. bellows 03:34 3. late in autumn 01:53 4. anne & rigged flutter 02:54 5. tabune 04:21 6. unknown steps 01:01 7. footpath on the hill 01:07 8. moss 05:17 9. a short story for west moors 01:16 10. home 01:48 11. lesson no.4 00:38 12. camphor tree 03:22 13. again 01:59