Review ·

On Journal for People, Takagi Masakatsu's third release on Carpark Records, the classically trained pianist has crafted an elaborate portrait of humanity. Drawing equally from glitchy aesthetics and classical compositions, the Japanese audio/visual artist has delivered a truly memorable, if not understated, package.


Inhabiting a genre ripe with self-importance, Masakatsu's songs are free to dwell in familiarity from time to time. For example, lead track "Uter 1" builds with a manipulated acoustic guitar that could have opened any glitch-pop record. But it is in this familiar place that his melodies maintain such poignancy. In fact, beneath the production techniques that would suggest he is an electronic artist, Masakatsu's numerous piano pieces indicate the heart of an accomplished composer. Placid works such as "Piano" and "Birdland" emphasize this with their splendor and simplicity.


These days almost every album comes with a DVD, but the material accompanying Journal for People (which was originally released in 2002 by Daisyworld Discs) is essential to fully experiencing it. A seasoned filmmaker, Masakatsu's visuals hum with joyous minimalism as he depicts young couples ice skating and children swimming in the summer. Void of sinister motives or ominous subtext, the visuals contribute to the album's nostalgic innocence.


By ignoring trends and refusing to be categorized, Masakatsu has delivered his masterpiece in what may be one of the most human electronic records ever produced. Coming across as neither a musician nor a filmmaker, Masakatsu earns the "artist" descriptor with Journal for People. Uncompromising in vision and unassuming in all aspects, the album convincingly celebrates all that is positive about humanity -- an exceptional feat in today's world.


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