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Interview on SYNTH CARESSES (October 13, 2014):

The Fragile Worlds Of Juta Takahashi

The music of Juta Takahashi is special in many ways: fragile, sacred, crystalline, profound, entrancing, touching the infinite...
Born in Miyagi, Japan in 1959, Juta was soon influenced strongly by the progressive rock scene. Originally a guitarist, he gradually drifted towards electronic music. Analogue instruments play a major role in the development of his own musical worlds.
His first commercial release came in 2007 and ever since, he’s been releasing CDs on a regular basis.
Along this article, you’ll find an interview with the man himself, his complete discography, and some of his compositions.


SYNTH-CARESSES: Can you tell us about your beginning in music and how you ended up making ambient music?

JUTA: I was captivated by synthesizer sound, when I listened to "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Isao Tomita and "Heaven and Hell" by Vangelis in my teen years. Then I explored progressive rock genre and found Yes, Pink Floyd, ELP, etc. and came to love synth sound more and more. As you know, synths were very expensive at that time, I could play them only in music shops. As a matter of course, I encountered King Crimson (Robert Fripp) and naturally knew about Brian Eno. "Discrete Music" by Eno made me recognize ambient music for the first time. However, since King Crimson was a very huge impact, I went into their music and started playing improvisation-oriented music as a guitarist until my graduation from university. Though I was away from music as a musician afterward, I loved ambient music such as "Music for Airports" by Eno, "The Plateaux of Mirror" by Harold Budd, etc. as a listener. The appearance of Pete Namlook in the early 1990s gradually woke me up as an electronic ambient musician and my first album was released in July, 2007.

SYNTH-CARESSES: In your music, is there any transcendental feeling that you would like to imbue your listeners with? Or is it simply to send the listener to a state of inner peace and relaxation?

JUTA: Eno once said that ambient music should be as ignorable as it is listenable. Though I generally try not to interrupt the listener's meditation and calmness, I think my ambient music had better have a little more attractive element. I make music to which I want to listen. If listeners like my music, they listen as well. That's all. I've never intended to control listeners condescendingly. I want listeners to enjoy my worlds in their own ways.

SYNTH-CARESSES: Your music is characterized by the use of drones, very long held notes that provoke that feeling of trance and meditation, but never forgetting about light melodies here and there.

JUTA: Yes. I mostly use drones. Though I like drone music, I feel something is missing in my case. I want to make some melodies and textures adrift along drones. I would say this structure is one of the bases of my music.

SYNTH-CARESSES: How important is sound design in your compositions?

JUTA: Very. Of course, I never use sounds I don't love. Juta Takahashi's music consists of carefully synthesized sound. Since I love analogue synths sound, my music is characterized by it. As you can notice, my sound mostly has slow attack and long decay. I think that's a major character as well.

SYNTH-CARESSES: Most of your albums seem to be theme-based: the sea, winter, silence, etc. When you start working on a new project, do you begin with a set idea in mind, a theme or does it take shape as you're composing and recording it?

JUTA: There's no set pattern. Sometimes there're themes or ideas, before I start composition. And sometimes completed music find their titles. However, I mostly compose spontaneously, even when I do themed music. There're only two albums which had their themes in advance. They're "The Door into Winter" and "Seabound".

SYNTH-CARESSES: You seem to have found the ideal length for your compositions. They’re all mid-length suites lasting between the 13-20 minutes region. Is that all the space you need in order to present your musical ideas and send the listener to that place or state you want?

JUTA: Yes, you're right. I think relatively long-form tracks have enough time to make listeners wholly immersed in worlds which I make. As a listener, I can be lost enough in tracks on "Music for Airports" which last 9-17 minutes.

SYNTH-CARESSES: I would dare say there is a deep sacred element in your music. I wouldn’t say religious, necessarily, but something transcendental for sure that tries to impregnate the listener. Am I too misguided here?

JUTA: I'm happy, if there is such element in my music. Even if there is, I think it's not an intentional one, but a spontaneous one by improvisation. I totally agree with a Robert Fripp quote, "Music is the means of creating a magical state." I enjoy such magical state, as a creator.

SYNTH-CARESSES: Apart from your official discography, are there any loose tracks you’ve composed for compilations or other side-projects?

JUTA: I contributed a track, entitled 'Departure', to Ultima Thule's 25th anniversary, which was broadcast on March 9, 2014. It'll be available, when "Ultima Thule Ambient Volume 2 - Beyond the Borders" is released. The full preview is available on my official website. In addition, two contributory tracks to other compilations exist, but they aren't published yet.

SYNTH-CARESSES: Thanks Juta for giving up your time.

For the complete article, please visit SYNTH CARESSES.