BORN in Hiroshima and raised partly in Germany and Austria, debuting Phantom Limb artist Ueda Takayasu says he spent his childhood feeling stateless, distant from his own cultural identity and curiously “un-Japanese”.
Even now, in adulthood, having returned to Japan, he speaks English, German and Japanese at home.
His internal response to this deep-rooted search for meaning took two divergent paths. Firstly, he turned to music when he hit his teens; but with that dark flipside that walks hand in hand with creativity, destructivity, would delete it as soon as he finished it. This means that while Every Clouds Call Our Name is his debut album if truth be told it’s actually his first surviving record.
Phantom Limb’s journey to a creative twining with Ueda is itself quite a tale, as label boss James Vella (and, as proved by his work as A Lily, someone who really does know a thing or three about electronic musical beauty) recounts: “Over the past few months of releasing music, I’ve come to notice that Phantom Limb can fairly reliably expect the first “like” on our Instagram posts to come from The Singing Frog.
“Save for the gratitude that someone out there is listening, I barely gave it much thought, until the person behind the account sent me a deeply reflective email towards the end of summer 2020.
“I learned – via the email’s fascinating and broken English – that The Singing Frog is Japanese musician Ueda Takayasu, and, sadly, that Ueda suffers with his mental health. His email explained that new music (including ours on Phantom Limb) offers rare moments of relief and respite and thus, he would be honoured if we could listen to his demos.
“When I heard his music I was transfixed. The image that came to my mind was of tiny seashells and coloured sand in the tide, washed back and forth by a gentle current. The surf rises and the colours intermingle, spread out in new patterns, settling only for a moment before the next wave comes and they jumble up again.”
And you know, he’s right; take a listen to “Every Clouds Call My Name”, which we’ve embedded for you below. There’s an element of beautifully controlled chaos to the guitars and electronica, which chatter, weave, fall away, resurge, a dazzling longform pattern which unfolds gradually over a quarter-hour and which forms one-half of Ueda’s debut album, Every Clouds Call Our Name, out towards the end of the month. As with some of Basic Channel’s 12″s, the organising rhythmic principle eludes your rational mind, but makes absolutely perfect aural sense. Deep and delightful.
The second path to Ueda’s inherent sense of dislocation is sadder: he suffered an acute psychiatric episode some years ago, which left him hospitalised, medicated and unable to write music. Thankfully, he’s recovered now, and that journey back gave him new insights and strengths.
He says that the recovery led him to sense “… a strange change in myself. I had a feeling that I could create pictures, photographs and music pretty much the way I wanted.”
He recalls that “the scene in ‘Every Clouds Call Our Name’ was probably the last dream I had in the hospital. In that dream, a drawing of me is floating in the sky.
“We all see clouds every day, but we don’t think about them too much,” Ueda concludes.
“The clouds may be telling us something, or they may not be telling us anything.”
Ueda Takayasu’s Every Clouds Call Our Name will be released in digital format by Phantom Limb on March 26th and is available to pre-order now over at Bandcamp.