Recommended Listening: Ueda Takayasu - Every Clouds Call Our Name
Tomorrow, March 26th, might be the busiest release day we've seen in a long time - maybe even since DC's inception. Our state-of-the-art tracking tool (a shared Google Doc - ha) lists well over a page of must-hear albums, and as we scanned A Closer Listen's impressively comprehensive, multi-genre preview pieces last week, it became clear that a perfect storm was brewing. So we decided that since everyone's Friday looks to be noisy, we should first highlight a release which will likely drift under many radars: Ueda Takayasu's Every Clouds Call Our Name. It is an album of small sounds, worth attention even in a crowd.
Ueda Takayasu, photo provided by Phantom Limb.
It's sort of a miracle that we get to hear Every Clouds Call Our Name at all. Born in Hiroshima, raised in Germany and Austria, and often communicating in English, Ueda Takayasu considers himself somewhat stateless. For a time, this personal identity struggle manifested itself in a terribly destructive artistic practice. Like one might shred pages of a written diary, Ueda fell into the habit of completing polished musical works and then immediately deleting them. On top of this, the artist also experienced an acute psychiatric episode a few years back which rendered him unable to create music at all. But after a full recovery, Ueda was left with these dreamlike sketches which would eventually become his debut album. It's not his first music, really, but it is the first he has allowed us to hear.
The album itself is divided into two longform tracks. Side A, which holds the shorter piece, is defined by those "small sounds" mentioned in the opening paragraph, as nearly inaudible tones gradually grow and are embellished with layers of electroacoustic bleeps and squeals. Fifteen minutes in, the construction feels breathy and green - teeming with life. Unlike the first track, the side B piece feels divided across three distinct movements. Beginning with synthetic tones, sound drops away completely eight minutes in, then suddenly rises skyward via major-key arpeggios. Noise takes over for a spell in the final movement, but never settles in completely as the album fades as gently as it opened.
Both constructions are beautiful on the surface, and knowing Ueda Takayasu's backstory adds another layer of appreciation. The music feels deeply autobiographical - an unedited narrative capturing joys, despair, and vulnerabilities. Hear track one of two below, and visit Phantom Limb's Bandcamp page tomorrow to hear the rest.