Tag Archives: Anchorsong

Anchorsong Uses Samples of Global Sounds to Make “Borderless Music”

Anchorsong

Photo by Masa Hamanoi

Masaaki Yoshida, who records as Anchorsong, has a deliberate, careful way of expressing himself—not unlike the composition process he’s describing from his London home. The results of that process—electronic pieces with lush, expansive interplays between silence and sound, with a complex tapestry of rhythms—have netted him critical acclaim and a large international following. Though he was born in Tokyo, the backdrop of his music is global. He creates songs using an MPC sampler and a keyboard, and sources what he calls the “particles” of his sounds from other countries; his last album, Ceremonial, took its musical cues from ‘70s Afrobeat.

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A Survey of the Sometimes Ambient and Always Dancefloor-Ready Japanese House Music Scene

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Of all the musical styles from abroad that Japanese musicians have adapted and perfected, deep house music seems a particularly natural fit. The ability of deep house to create profound emotion from the very simplest of elements, and its privileging of tonality and atmosphere over obvious dramatic events both resonate with the priorities of Japanese art and craft, and the country’s producers have been avidly exploring its possibilities from the very birth of house in the 1980s right up to the present.

The deep roots of Japanese house were exposed to the world recently thanks to the glorious Sounds of the Far East compilation. On this, Dutch DJ Hunee compiled the best work from Soichi Terada’s Far East label. These tracks are from the early 1990s, but Terada’s legacy goes back further than that: His 1989 mutant pop production for singer Nami Shimada’s “Sunshower” was remixed by Larry Levan at New York’s Paradise Garage, and has also been recently been resurrected on a Dutch label. His blissed-out 1991 “Low Tension” has also been picked up for remix and reissue by London label Utopia.

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Album of the Day: Anchorsong, “Ceremonial”

Masaaki Yoshida has been composing electronic music under the moniker Anchorsong for more than a half-decade, first gaining attention for his 2011 debut Chapters, a laidback house record based on the DJ’s spontaneous live shows. On his second full-length, Ceremonial, the Tokyo-bred DJ broadens his scope of source material with an adventurous, thrilling set of intricate instrumentals that bear little resemblance to its predecessor.

Inspired by the discovery of The Vodoun Effect, a collection of obscure West African instrumentals from the 70’s, Anchorsong, who takes his name from Bjork’s 1993 “The Anchor Song,” emphasizes and incorporates complex rhythmic constructions and an expansive array of Afrobeat samples on Ceremonial, touching everything from surf rock to New Wave along the way.

“Mother,” “Last Feast,” and “Butterfly,” which merge polyrhythmic structures with brief, indistinguishable vocal snippets and crisp house beats, are the perfect showcases for Yoshida’s Afro-house hybrids. Even a song like “Expo,” which begins with a more traditional bass-driven sonic palette, continues to slowly build as Yoshida adds elements like guitar, hand drums, and marimbas to dense, stunning effect.

There are no cheap payoffs or ready-made club hits on Ceremonial. Instead, it’s an album that rewards repeated listens and careful attention. It seamlessly blends the DJ’s house minimalism with his newfound artistic vision, and the result is one of the most exciting instrumental LPs of the past year.

Jonathan Bernstein