See-through, an album of classical music with a contemporary way of life surrounding it, is Kumi Takahara’s debut. The Japanese violinist’s music is described as ‘part private diary, part daydream’, and the blending of strings, found sounds, and glistening piano seems to fit a sleepy, mid-afternoon siesta.
For Takahara, her sun-soaked See-through Remixes album is especially personal. She recorded it in her bathroom, and it acts as a gateway of sorts, connecting the music to the beauty and the majesty of the sea, and bringing it to listeners all over the world. The power of music is that it isn’t restricted to nations or borders; it crosses continents and goes international.
Participating artists include Machionone, Dylan Henner, Zoe Polanski, Vague Imaginaires, Federico Durand, Porya Hatami, Hviledag, Roméo Poirier, Bartosz Kruczyski, The Humble Bee, and Earth Trax, and these remixes are able to inject new life and renewed vitality into the classically-tuned music. Even though they’re laid-back, some of the melodies skitter around and can’t seem to recline, while others are drenched in reverb, the strings rippling outwards to form circles of perfect symmetry. Sometimes, drums filter in and provide the rhythm of the sea, in tune with its tidal motion.
Although these are all remixes, the music has a distinct, universal flow, and they’re never secondary to their originals; it feels in-tune rather than sporadic or uneven. These remixes are fragile and light things, with wings of delicacy, requiring great care. Sometimes, the music is so close to dissolving that it flitters in and out of existence. The piano feels old and rusty and in the twilight of its years, its sound fraying like an old home-made film, recorded on a camcorder years ago, playing back a stuttering memory of a day in summer, colours seeping out of fading faces.
When that happens, the music feels ghostly, not really a part of the world – see-through – and the world it once knew has moved on. The music’s stuck to a specific point in time, almost entangled in a web of its own making, looping over and over. Other tracks drift effortlessly, changing chords and direction at a leisurely pace, but they’re intelligent enough to always reach their destination. Lively and ever-smooth, See-through Remixes is an album of perfect drift, and its stellar line-up doesn’t disappoint.