Seki Takashi was born on an island. Honshu island to be specific, in the city of Sendai. Home to about one million Japanese, the city is the largest in that country’s Tohoku Region.
He’s since moved southwest to Tokyo. Like a lot of people who’ve left a smaller hometown for one of the world’s major cities, Takashi has felt the transition. His latest release – a cassette entitled Think – is “an introspective and thoughtful meditation on alienation in the urban environment” according to his promo sheet.
The 27-year-old offers this heart-breaking quote: “I pass a lot of people in the city every day. But I do not interact with anyone.”
The album opens gradually, with a just-slightly distorted drone sound. “Voices” can fairly be described as minimalist, but it is unsettling. The piece makes clear that Takashi has something to say.
“Wear Down” follows, with a pensive piano section layered over more gentle droning. By the 1:30 mark though, that gives way to a heavier, more menacing drone not unlike the first track’s. The piano and electronics compete for our attention until combining to make room for mournful strings. By the end of the piece, it’s evident to first-time Takashi listeners that his work packs an emotional punch.
Throughout the album, the droning replicates the din so many cities produce day and night. It isn’t a sound that makes you feel part of something. Instead, it’s a constant that makes clear the city has an energy all its own. We feel excluded by it because it dwarfs us. We aren’t part of the sound, we are its listener.
With Think though, the opposite is true. The noise is recognizable (not to mention a more pleasant listen). The album is clearly a personal, nuanced statement.
The album closes with “Others,” one of its most challenging pieces. Metal grinds amidst high-ceiling ambient sound. It is a study of our sometimes harsh urban landscapes, and it is completely relatable.