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No. 9 - Micro Films

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Artist: No. 9

Album: Micro Films

Label: Locust

Review date: Dec. 7, 2004

As a young boy growing up in the Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, Joe Takayuki was surrounded by lush mountainous landscapes and became fascinated by the numerous animals and plants that populated the vistas of his hometown. If you visit Takayuki’s Japanese language website, you’ll discover a list of recommendations – books on flora and fauna and numerous plugs for Microcosmos, the incredible film directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennous that used advanced techniques to present an amazing close-up view of the intricacies of insect life taking place in a particular meadow on a summer’s day.

This fascination with the natural world is deeply engrained upon Micro Films, the most recent offering from Takayuki in his guise as No.9. Field recordings are prominently employed throughout, but deployed as a means to an end, not as end product. So the songs of birds and insects are crafted into simple melodies or fluttering beats and a woman’s wordless recitations are used to create a mood as opposed to a narrative. These most natural instruments are juxtaposed with a finely balanced blend of live instrumentation and simple, childlike electronica, encompassing a whole spectrum of flavors – pop minimalism, acid jazz and Eno-esque ambience – whilst always seeking to evoke an aspect of nature’s kingdom. “With Millions of Love” hones these elements and boils them down to beautiful effect. Without doubt Micro Films places No. 9 alongside the masterful Cornelius, in the higher echelons of pioneering, yet accessible Japanese electronic music.

A mention too should be given regarding the packaging of this album, which features a stunning collection of 13 illustrations by 13 contemporary Japanese artists – making Micro Films a feast for the eye as well as the ear.

By Spencer Grady

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