After returning to the UK, “Tokudawara” was the first track that came together on the album.
There were several tracks that I was playing with and testing at the time from the recordings of the OP-1. However, I was struggling to find something that worked.
The easiest tracks to go to from my recordings were the melodies and chord sequences I had created. They provided great bases to build the rest of a track on. However, many of these experiments only ended up making it to the record after some major alterations. All except “Tokudawara” and the final track “Leaving.”
The main collection of chords/melody on “Tokudawara” was played straight into the Tascam from the OP-1 and had an evolving pattern that I decided to strip back to selection as an 8 bar loop. I layered these and treated them with different FX, EQ and panning to turn a mono collection of chords into a larger stereo image.
One of my favorite tracks of all time is the “Telefon Tel Aviv” track “Fahrenheit Fair Enough,” and I especially love the way that the main melody/chord progression stays the same throughout large sections of the track, whilst the other instrumentation and percussion shifts underneath. This was certainly an influence when starting to make this track, but after many attempts at iterating the other instrumentation, I ran into a bit of a cul-de-sac with the piece as a whole. It stalled for a few weeks whilst I worked on other tracks.
The breakthrough came when I started to use a sample library of organic drums on other tracks in the album. I wondered what it would be like to re-create the electronic instrumentation at the beginning of “Tokudawara” with traditional instruments. The piano seemed to me like an obvious choice, and when I re-recorded the chords on a piano and added it to the sound of a real drum kit, I knew I had a complete track.
The field recordings on the piece came from two different events.
I first added the vocal shouts, which came from a Gyōji at a sumo wrestling match. I wanted to use samples from the sumo match because I recorded the OP-1 synth after returning from this match. I thought it would be great to link it in.
The second recording of birdsong was a continuous recording of the garden at the Okouchi-Sansou Villa. Field recordings of birds happen several times on the album.
I find blending these larger soundscapes of wildlife has a stronger effect when mixed with electronics. It was also referencing of one of my Favorite albums “Fin” by “John Talabot,” whose opening track “Depak Ine” features a background of jungle calls.
Perhaps because Tokudawara was the first track I finished, it set up a sound and a style that influenced the rest of the album. It also felt to me like something that was the closest thing to a “single” on the album, being easy to understand on first listen. Both of these reasons made me move it to the front of the track listing.