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Anchorsong Creates Music Without Borders on 'Cohesion'

Photo courtesy of the Syndicate

Anchorsong's Cohesion makes the point that we are all the same as beings on this planet. Let's dance or at least fall into a trance together.


Tru Thoughts

26 October 2018

Masaaki Yoshida, the electronic musician who performs as Anchorsong, says he tries to create "borderless music". The Tokyo-born, London-based artist makes his sumptuous global sonic compositions on his MPC sampler and a keyboard. On his latest disc, Cohesion, he combines traditional Indian music and Bollywood movie soundtracks from the 1970s and 1980s with dancefloor beats. A listener might not hear the difference between the sound of a tabla or dholak and a synthetic noise generator because of the way Yoshida employs them. That does not matter because as some sort of happy accident, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts here.

Take the appropriately named "Serendipity", the album's most danceable number. The music slithers and snakes and invites sultry movement through its relaxed vibe. The combination of disparate sources works together to make a get your butt off the chair and make shapes response. It's one part Miami Vice-ish and sometimes trumpets and other sources more unidentifiable. That's the point.

Yoshida is not an ethnographer. He aims to move audiences on a more subconscious level. The polyrhythmic numbers shift from groove to groove with a universality of allusions. The songs may have snatches of vocals pop up in the background, but what is said/sung is never as important as their resonance. Not understanding the language is a plus. For example, the track "Testimony" uses the sound a young person calling out a word, which Yoshida plasticizes and stretches out in a higher pitch as well as uses to create a percussive tempo. To American ears, the word sounds something like "teen wolf". Its nonsensical nature allows one to hear it as a mantra. The two-syllable expression evokes a heartbeat, and Yoshida plays with that aspect to create excitement.

Yoshida successfully employs a similar strategy on other songs with just instrumentation. On "Ancestors" he uses the repetition of a longer musical phrase to build a base and then layers over natural and synthetic rhythms for variation—which then are repeated in various guises. This suggests a movement forward while going nowhere. We are the people from which we are descended. We are all the same as beings on this planet. Let's dance or at least fall into a trance together.

"Foreign River" begins with the sound of falling water which Yoshida then interprets using his keyboard and different effects. He breaks down the timbre into various parts over an insistent beat for almost four minutes, before it flows forth again as water and ends. The sound washes over the listener.

All of the 11 tracks except "Foreign River" have one name titles and no cut lasts five minutes. The shortest, "Majesty", is only barely one minute in length and is placed squarely in the middle of the disc. The album is called Cohesion for the unstated reason that there are connections between every sound. Rather than combine this into some kind of musical sausage, Yoshida curates and selects what goes together to create an art form in which one can dance and get lost. Anchorsong moors us as humans secure in our shared experiences no matter where we come from.


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