The soundtrack music of the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu has been sporadically available in this country, if at all, so The Film Music of Toru Takemitsu (Nonesuch, out now) is most welcome. Takemitsu was best known in the U.S. for his work with filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (represented here with a section from 1970’s Dodes’kaden), but he composed 93 movie scores over 40 years and his range was remarkable. His music was greatly influenced by the West, and there are moments on this compilation that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ennio Morricone or Jerry Goldsmith collection. There are stately organs (as on the opening selection from 1989’s Rikyu, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, who used Takemitsu for many of his films) and lush strings with melodies hinting at the baroque. But there is also the distinctively Japanese flavor he brought to his harrowing score for Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes (1964), where the dry scrape of strings personified the shifting sands. This collection shows the breadth of Takemitsu’s work. This is one entry in the Nonesuch Film Music Series, which also devotes discs to Alex North, Leonard Rosenman and Georges Delerue. (For those interested in exploring Takemitsu’s non-soundtrack music, Denon has released the orchestral disc Autumn and a CD of his guitar works performed by Shin-ichi Fukuda; the latter is recommended if you can find it.)
Originally published in the October 3, 1997, edition of epulse (3.39).
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).
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Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0473 / Placebo Effect (2 or 3) / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio that others will complete.
• 0472 / Jam Time (1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio that others will complete.
• 0471 / Phase Transition / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something with it.
• 0470 / Calendar View / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.
• 0469 / [Missing in Caption] / The Assignment: Make music that pushes the constraints of descriptive television captions.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 473 consecutive weeks to date.
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