/

BEST OF 2012

Expe “Emeralda”

by Erik Luebs

Special To The Japan Times

As Expe, Takatoshi Yoshitake’s October release “Emeralda” approaches the technical thresholds of guitar and percussion, but avoids the egotistical posturing that characterizes much progressive music. Instead, “Emeralda” dives deep into meter and timbre all while maintaining a cool, nuanced sensibility. It’s a funk record for those in love with spiritual jazz and ambient music.

In the opening track, “Episode,” Expe’s guitars glitter gently alongside the pandiero drum of Brazilian percussionist Marcos Suzano and the subtle keyboard work of Shigeki Ieguchi and Ryota Nishi. Arpeggiated chords carve out the geometric boundaries of the five-four meter, then slowly modulate as they are engulfed by swirling gusts of harmonics and synths.

The fourth track, “Caleide,” juxtaposes a seven-eight meter against a four-four bass drum. As the guitar endures each repetition, syncopated accents tamper with the heavily-crafted rhythmic structure. The downbeat and the upbeat drift and collide, creating a swelling rhythmic drone, an expanse in which sound ebbs and flows with little regard for logical constraint.

Such an aural experience is akin to the trail of associative thoughts you get at the border of sleep and consciousness — as one thought settles into frame, its edges begin to blur and drift, and before long it has warped into something unrecognizable. What remains is a lingering sense that something tangible was once there. This new sensation, while severing its connection to logic and reason, is all the more beautiful because of it. And as it begins to drift away, our egos drift along with it, and soon we’ve lost track of ourselves and our place in the material world. All we can do is take comfort in the simple acknowledgement that we exist — and perhaps this is exactly what “Emeralda” is attempting to communicate. (Erik Luebs, www.magicalmistakes.com)