Boomkat Product Review:
Another Japanese ambient holy grail is ticked off the wants-list with a first ever vinyl pressing of Midori Takada & Masahiko Satoh’s Lunar Cruise following the widely celebrated reissue of Takada’s Through The Looking Glass earlier in 2017.
Flanked by YMO’s Haruomi Hosono and jazz player Kazutoki Umezu, Takada & Satoh’s original recordings of Lunar Cruise richly resonate with the preceding ten years of digitized 4th world innovation as well as traces of Badalamenti and Lynch’s synth parts from Twin Peaks of the same year, all while clearly pre-echoing the reverberant synthetic spaces of Kenji Kawai’s Ghost In The Shell OST. Even 2nd hand CD copies of Lunar Cruise are trading for a pretty penny, so this vinyl edition could hardly be more welcome right now.
Working deep into the modern ambient zeitgeist, Lunar Cruise’s charms sound as appealing now as ever, catching up with Takada’s sound seven years after her debut percussive masterpiece, Through The Looking Glass to find her working with a broader, worldly instrumental palette inspired by her 1989 tour with Satoh thru Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The pieces alternate super sparse and enchantingly cybersensuous states of mind with more urgent, pealing jazz and free experimentation that breaks far out of the ambient mould into sufi-esque dervishes and rippling dance studies recalling Steve Reich in full flight.
The effect is overall more crisply urbane, angular than the pastoral tranquility perceived in Takada’s better known precedent. From the names of its bookending pieces of Iron Paradise, also reflected in their tensile nature and construction, thru to the ten minutes of stoic tonal experimentation in Chang-Dra, and driving dervish of A Vanished Illusion, a sense of urgency and control is paramount to Lunar Cruise in a way that wasn’t there in its forerunner, pointing to a tightening and vivification of Takada’s ideas that perhaps reflected the increasingly cybersensual world around her and Satoh, as opposed her earlier new age influences.
Highlights belong to In D’s precise, vivid percolations of woodblock percussion and the wistful temperament of Madorone, underlined by Hosono’s quizzical fretless bass probes, but if there’s any one definitive moment, it comes in the gently pealing gamelan and breathy synth voices of Ancient Palace, which really freezes that cusp-of-the-’90s ambient shiver somewhere between new age optimism and the numbness of cybernetic sensuality.