Melding by Marika Takeuchi
Bigo and Twigetti, 2018
Marika Takeuchi’s new album Melding dropped July 19. I first discovered her three years ago when she crowdfunded her fourth studio album, Colors in the Diary, while I looked for something interesting on PledgeMusic. I love how that sometimes happens; the crowdfunding platforms are such a great way to get into something new.
“This is a mixture of classical and electronic music, eastern and western influences,” she says in the teaser video for the album, “and everything else that contrasts but coexists. This is really about mixing up everything.
“I was told that my music is good, but I’m not going to be internationally successful because I’m a female and Asian. I wanted to prove them wrong. Music is a universal language, and what you look like, where you are from, and what gender you are don’t affect your abilities and passions to make good music. Music has the power to unite people.”
I haven’t received my physical CD yet, so no album credits until later.
If you ever put together a playlist beginning with the X-Files theme and ending with Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” with Clannad’s “Theme from Harry’s Game” somewhere in the middle, you’ve got to get this album. Takeuchi’s neo-classical sensibilities combine for the first time with just a bit of electronica to make Melding both meditative and dramatic. If you prefer your genres unmelded, start with “Found,” a lovely, cascading theme progression that will bring tears to your eyes if you stare into it too closely.
For new additions to the X-Files playlist, jump to “Roots,” a sweeping construction of sounds not going where you think it’s going, or “Night Time,” probably the best example of the east-west thing the artist mentions in her teaser video. The Japanese melody on violin and a pretty, plucked instrument (harp, perhaps) are a nice, new-agey example of Takeuchi’s interest in combining influences. “Evolve” provides a similar experience, probably the most cinematic song on the album.
My favorite thing about this album is Takeuchi’s continued emphasis on building and exploring themes. I don’t know whether this electronic-flavored neo-classical is a diversion or a new path, but I’m along for the ride because she’s still solidly a classical composer. Listen to the build-up in the first two minutes of “Thoughts” and tell me you don’t want to rent a tux or put on your nicest gown and see this musician in live performance with your city’s orchestra.
A gorgeous. layered album. I hear new things with each spin, and I’ve listened all the way through eight or nine times so far.
Best song: “Night Time”
Second-best song: It keeps changing, but right now it’s “Evolve.”
Best moment: The Enya-like vocals on “Found,” and the weird, almost weapon-sounding clicking in the same track.
Song to make you text your ex (don’t do it!): “Breeze”
Song to make you get on a horse, strap on your sword, and seek adventure: “Breakdown”
Song to make you question why we’re here and what it’s all about: “Thoughts”
also this lovely 2016 performance of “Koyo” especially for those whose tastes lean contemporary classical.