Boomkat Product Review:
Japanese composer-guitarist Leo Takami makes ambient music of a sort, but looks back to an era where jazzy, lounge-y guitar music crossed over with pastoral new age. 'Next Door' is a whimsical, sugar-sweet set that sounds like 1970s hold music stretched into widescreen.
'Next Door' follows 2020's acclaimed 'Felís Catus and Silence', and rather than retread old ground, Takami strips back that album's decoration significantly. Short opening track 'Letter' is a muted, Satie-like piano meditation, that leads into 'As If Listening', a more familiar Takami number that's florid jazz reduced to a blunted haze of filtered guitar runs, glistening piano, double bass and Steve Reich-like marimba rhythms. In the wrong hands this would be cloyingly saccharine, but Takami's been refining his style for years, and he manages to stay just on the right side of the dotted line.
'Beyond' might be a better entry point for dedicated new age devotees. Here, Takami spices up his glassy performance with waterlogged choral synths and traced arpeggios, introducing a drum beat so faint it's barely even there. And on 'Spring Snow', he foregrounds his skillful electric guitar playing, shredding over double bass but not making it too showy - it's ambient music, after all. The most tranquil moment is saved for last; the rousing 'Family Tree' shows there's real emotion underneath the cute aesthetics, with subtle strings just poking into Takami's synth and guitar meditations.