We’re in the wilderness now. If nothing puts you there, Takami’s 天使行 Y. De Noir Ⅱ will. Playing out like a modern Japanese update on Nico’s Marble Index or Desertshore, Takami’s debut album sounds like little else. 天使行 roughly translates to “Angel Line” giving you, the listener, a clue into what the theme of the album is about. Were these songs to communicate with the great beyond? Or were they for someone tapping into a universal/timeless communion?
Graced by the intriguing artwork, voice, and lyricism of Takami, it’s her plundering aural exploration that guides our focus throughout the album. Filling out the rest, at the edges of Takami’s voice, is the barely there accompaniment of the mysterious electronic musician Pneuma. Working together, Pneuma serves as this quiet, sonic witness, silently, diligently warping all sorts of electronics into ghostly premonitions hovering around Takami’s chants.
Forget floating music, ambient music, or minimalism, the music you’ll hear in 天使行 Y. De Noir Ⅱ sounds like it’s fading in and out of reality, trying to will itself into some meaningful constitution. I can give you a list of the instruments you’ll hear Pneuma perform in 天使行 Y. De Noir Ⅱ: guitar, ocarina, violin, shahi baaja, tabla, horn, synthesizer – but they won’t tell you much about how the album will sound like. Moving at a slow pace, 天使行 Y. De Noir Ⅱ seems to take otherworldly cues from the neoclassical sounds of German kosmische music like early Rossi-era Ash Ra, Gila, or Popol Vuh. Not-so-faint reverberations of worldly drone music from Japan and Indonesia also appears to plant its claim in molding the music of Takami and Pneuma.
What 天使行 Y. De Noir Ⅱ seems to have is a sustained feeling of displacement seems to move every song. What sounds like the shahi baaja carrying a melody, can quickly evaporate into the air, replaced by maybe a synthesizer or violin tone sustained for unknown time, waiting to be the next in line to be wafted out (at just the right time). Sometimes Takami sings into a void, but the music never ceases to exist.
天使行 Y. De Noir Ⅱ is dark music, but it isn’t “dark” in a negative sense. Trust me, there’s a lot of there, here…