Released: 28th Nov, 2011
Label: Tru Thoughts
‘Chapters’, out 28th November, is the captivating debut album by hotly tipped Japanese multi-instrumentalist and producer Anchorsong, on Tru Thoughts. BBC Radio 1’s new music guru Huw Stephens, who has heartily championed Anchorsong since seeing him at SXSW in 2009, recently lifted the lid on the LP with an upfront play of the music, fuelling the buzz for this stunning new material. First single “Ghost Touch” / “Plum Rain” (24th October) is gaining rapturous tastemaker feedback for its fresh and punchy yet deep and organic sound, with radio play including Huey Morgan (6Music) and John Kennedy (XFM).
Originally from Tokyo, Anchorsong – aka Masaaki Yoshida – moved to London in 2007, via a stint in New York. He has amassed a worldwide following for his hook-laden, idiosyncratic and energetic music, built from multiple layers of live instrumentation and electronic production; his ability to translate this into a thrilling live spectacle further sets him apart. Videos of his performances have garnered over 300,000 YouTube views, and many people describe Anchorsong’s one-man shows as “like watching a painter drawing on a white canvas” as he fully recreates his tracks live onstage using keyboards and an MPC 2000XL sampler. Formerly a guitarist in a rock band, he has always thrived on live performance and he brings that frisson, warmth and sense of occasion to electronic music.
The urge to perform for an audience – rather than sitting behind a laptop – has in turn influenced the way Yoshida composes, inspiring a self-imposed creative directive of the like rarely observed by electronic producers: to only produce music that he is able to recreate in a live solo show. Having initially moved to London to get inspired by the cutting-edge underground scene, he found himself rediscovering more and more his roots as a live performer, and realised: “I want to be a musician like a blacksmith, a craftsman, rather than an innovator”. Taking care to maintain the values of proper composition while keeping the beats, riffs and even melodies as minimal as possible, his creation is at once both complex and winningly simple, all the more alive and arresting for its minimalism.
“I wanted to make an instrumental album which you can listen through without getting bored even for a second. I can hardly name any instrumental records like that among the countless ones I’ve listened to. To me, most fall into two types: the first is full of similar tracks that you can hardly tell apart, and the second has various styles but is a bit disorderly and inconsistent. My favourite ones have variation but still sound very consistent, and that is the type of album I wanted to make.” – Anchorsong
An addictive listen, ‘Chapters’ reveals more with each play, fusing diverse influences including rock, hip hop and electronica, with every note – from beats right through to strings – played by accomplished multi-instrumentalist Yoshida himself. Attention-grabbing opener “Split” demonstrates a key compositional technique: several instruments (in this case guitar, organ, sitar, Rhodes & shamisen) playing an identical phrase in turn. This can also be found on the incredibly infectious “Darkrum”, “The Blacksmith” and “Before the Apple Falls”. The two digital single tracks display a great range of feeling, with a glimpse of dark underbelly in the highly percussive, edgy beat of “Ghost Touch”, whose spookiness is compounded by Anchorsong’s fancy for using guitar effects, especially overdrive/distortion, to subvert the sound; and evocative beauty in “Plum Rain”, written in Japan during the rainy season – the rich dynamic and non-dynamic textures are shot through with the piano melody, drenching the listener in the atmosphere of that liquid Japanese afternoon.
Anchorsong has supported Bonobo, Prefuse 73, DJ Krush, Daedelus, Gonjasufi, Jaga Jazzist and more, performing at prestigious venues including London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Roundhouse. SXSW 2009 was a pivotal moment: having stunned the crowds there, he went on to make several appearances on BBC Radio 1, including a 2010 Maida Vale session for Huw Stephens and radio play from Rob Da Bank. Following three successful EPs in Japan, his international debut, “The Lost & Found EP” was self-released in March 2011, and in May, Anchorsong signed to Tru Thoughts for a multi-album deal.