Bigo & Twigetti are the London based label that describe themselves as mixing classical music, electronica, sounds design and a few other things. Their roster includes the likes of Leah Kardos, Fiona Brice, Olof Corneer, Liam J Hennessey and others. Today I focus on the two most recent releases from Marika Takeuchi and label boss Jim Perkins as well as some of the singles that are being released as the album “Perceptions” on September 3.
“Following on from the success of her recent EP Daydream, Marika returns with a new EP which focuses on her continued search for that elusive something. ‘Missing Piece’ sees Marika returning to her signature sound of piano, strings, synths and bubbling beats that evoke feelings and images reminiscent of early Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi filtered through the lens of contemporary America.”
The EP is a lost great art in the Modern Classical scene. There is a form of immediacy that an EP can deliver which is quite at odds with the nature of the expansive orchestral form of music that Modern Classical is noted for. It is the type of format that grab the listeners attention without them drifting off. Marika Takeuchi has released a few EP’s now after beginning with three full length albums in “Night Dream” (2011), “Impressions” (2013) and “Rain Stories” (2014). A native of Japan she moved to the US in 2009 to study film scoring at the Berklee College of Music. Since then, other than releasing her albums, she has has scored several independent shorts as well as music for adverts and tourism boards while also being involved with the MRG Recordings label.
Her latest release is the three track, ten and a half minute “Missing Piece” Ep which demonstrates her craft. Sometimes music can be an overblown affair where musicians push to make their music bigger, wide, grander or more expansive. With Takeuchi you get a sense of an artist that has spent almost a lifetime working and studying music resulting in this ability to create pieces that cover terrain and emotions with an effortless like feel. There is a certain attraction I have to music that is able to convey their feelings without it being bombastic and you get this on the sublime opener “Missing Piece”, a track that fuses piano, strings and electronics in a not obvious cinematic style with a sort of post rock structural influence. The middle piece “First Light” finds Takeuchi in expressive and joyful mode with a tone that shakes off any particular shackles the listener may have.
One of the beauties of piano music is despite the thought that it at times can sound too similar, is the range of the instrument emotionally and how a piece can be played in various ways resulting in different aspects. The final track “Drifting Away” takes a different direction to the other two pieces with a more inwardly looking and melancholic feel. The thing that separates it from being purely melancholic once again comes back to tone. Sometimes the weight or the pace of the playing can define the intensity of the tone and on this one Takeuchi pulls back as not to make it feel too dark. For the second half of the piece Takeuchi takes flight which feels both confident and expressive in the playing. The melancholic like feel is still there, but it is not the type of tone that feels that it is morose.
“Missing Piece” is my first chance to listen to Takeuchi and I am interested in hearing more. “Missing Piece” is available digitally.
“Following on from Jim Perkins beautiful 2019 album release Pools, B&T have commissioned an EP of reworks from label mates & new collaborators. The EP explores different approaches to re-interpretation from the layering and manipulation of the original clarinet recordings from Held on Holographic Field’s rework through paired down piano in Marika Takeuchi’s Enfolding and on to the stunning interpretation of The Wooden King for harp and electronics by Floraleda Sacchi. The final track by Night Gestalt disintegrates the filtered voices on A Ritual for Saying Goodbye through waves of distortion, bass and synths. The result is a stunning and engaging set of interpretations which add new dimensions to the original compositions.”
“Pools Reworked” is an EP that sees material from label founder Jim Perkins’ “Pools” album reworked by Bigo & Twigetti artists Night Gestalt, Marika Takeuchi, contemporary classical harpist Foraleda Scacchi and German Ambient/Electronic artist Holographic Field.
Opening with Holographic Field’s rework of “Held” you get a sense that the reworkings are going to be quite complimentary to the originals. The mournful dawn like quality of the original which is largely centred around Katy Ayling’s Clarinet is put through fuzzed out electronics giving it a bassier, glitcher and more ambient feel resulting in the only club based work which gives it a complete re-interpretation.
The original “Enfolding” sounds like music inside a bubble. There is this feeling of the piece being contained. With an ambient core and muted chords, it is the type of music suited to the wee hours of morning where contemplation and not much else takes place. In Marika Takeuchi’s hands it feels like such a different track that I am finding myself checking and rechecking the shared history. Takeuchi’s take is a more driven piano piece with electronics that only towards the last minute or so has a resemblance to the original. It’s almost as if Takeuchi has taken the feel and emotion of the original, flipped it and cracked open the bubble.
Foraleda Scacchi re-imagines rather faithfully “The Wooden King” even though the instrumentation is moved from piano to harp. The music changes shape in the sense that it becomes a bit more shimmering than the original. You get the sense of the original being the sort of piece you may find in a Kubrik film, while Scacchi’s remake has both a strong ambient and percussive feel.
Olof Cornéer’s electronic project Night Gestalt gets his hands on “A Ritual For Saying Goodbye” and maintains it’s avant-garde credentials while more than doubling it’s length and taking it from it’s more vocal driven singularity to a vocal driven piece with a Survive sounding electronic rumble. You couldn’t claim the original to be too gentle and Cornéer holds onto some of this quality while also descending into alien like territory. The end result, much like the other pieces is one which is complimentary to the original.
If you are listening to this as a stand alone release then it is enjoyable, but I recommend comparing the originals and remakes as it’s always interesting to see the intention of both artists and see what may have been removed or added to the pieces. “Pools Reworks” is available Digitally from May 7.
“Perceptions is a singles series and compilation exploring different approaches to creating music for piano. The series features pieces written for solo piano which capture a performance, tracks which combine piano performance with subtle splashes of effects such as delay or granular synthesis and those which are constructed from recordings which have been transformed through layering, effects processing, binaural/3D recording techniques and arranged to create an immersive listening experience.”
“Perceptions” is the end result of a collection of singles that Bigo & Twigetti have / will issue between April 9 and September 3. Artists are paired up resulting in eight singles (usually at a monthly rate) with artists including: Olan Mill, Wilson Trouvé, Julia Gjertson, Simeon Walker, Garreth Broke, Matt Stewart Evans, Jim Perkins, Luke Wyland, Ben Crosland, Madeleine Cocolas, Christopher Dicker, Josh Kramer, Marika Takeuchi, Blurstem, Cedric Vermue and Leah Kardos.
For this post I will be briefly touch on the singles thus far and will come back to the full album closer to the release date. The series debuted on April 9th with Olan Mill and Wilson Trouvé with a pairing of the wide scale shimmering and tinkling Ambience of Olan Mill meets the solo Modern Classical piano and subtle haunting drones of Wilson Trouvé. Both set the scene nicely for the series by offering different, interesting sounds to each other’s piece. Julia Gjertson and Simeon Walker comprise the second single released with each offering again differing sounds. Gjertson’s “Detached” evolves slowly to become a building piece where field recording, piano, strings and electronics converge into a piece that you think is going to over flow into an epic work before pairing back. Walker on the other hand contributes a track which is as naked, raw and unadorned as you will likely hear. There is a stark quality to the piece that is enhanced by the creaks and movements of the piano that adds both an intimacy and authenticity to the piece.
The series continues through the months leading up to September with Garreth Broke and Matt Stewart-Evans being the next cab of the rank. You can hear some of the material as well as other fine Bigo & Twigetti releases below.