For the good part of the past decade, Japanese composer-musician Masahiro Takahashi has been crafting gently spellbinding pieces that simultaneously embrace electronic abstraction and a palpable, even brittle, humanity. His delicate and evocative landscapes always seem to be illuminated in vibrant magic hour tones as golden synth lines emanate from between soft flickers of acoustic instrumentation.
Since moving to Toronto in 2020, Takahashi has swiftly become a local fixture, enough so that his elegant Not Not Fun tape, Flowering Tree, Distant Moon saw an LP reissue with prominent local imprint Telephone Explosion (home to Joseph Shabason, Mas Aya, Steve Roach, Badge Epoque, Eucalyptus and others).
The forthcoming follow-up, also on Telephone Explosion, is entitled Humid Sun and proudly exhibits connections that he has cultivated in both his new and former homes. Recorded between January and August 2022, the record lives up to its title and sunset-hued cover, unfolding a kaleidoscopic, vaguely tropical calm over ten luxuriant tracks. All but one of the pieces features contributions from guest artists. On one hand he has invited several artists from back home namely Tokyo-based electronic producers H. Takahashi, Takao, and Yamaan, on the other he has brought aboard members of Toronto's rich experimental music community, including his labelmates Joseph Shabason and Brodie West (leader of Eucalyptus), as well as Ryan Driver, Bram Gielen, and Michael Davidson. He also enlisted Sandro Perri of Constellation Records infamy to provide the final mix.
Though bearing Takahashi's personal atmospheric signatures, Humid Sun's warm, saturated colour palette and sunny repose audibly also take cues from the imaginary utopias of vintage lounge and exotica. These tropes offer an unexpected avenue through which Toronto's local influence creeps in again. Takahashi explains that he envisions the record as an auditory tool to cope with the city's harsh winters—and the references are designed to provide a sort of sonic vacation. Indeed he succeeds in achieving this objective; the album's nuanced colours and contours engender a sense of equatorial tranquility, though completely devoid of the kitsch associated with his inspiration.
While it might be easy to imagine Masahiro Takahashi's unique brand of introversion as the product of hermetic solitude, anyone that knows him from the Toronto scene will tell you that Humid Sun vividly captures his true temperament—curious, attentive, and quietly gregarious.