Nobukazu Takemura was born in Osaka in August of 1968. His interest in music began with Punk and New Wave at the ripe old age of ten. By the time he reached junior high, Takemura was recording music with keyboards and two tapedecks. Working in a record store, Takemura became exposed to Free Jazz, Contemporary Music and Hip-Hop - the foundation for his music composition and theory for re-mixing. By high school, Nobukazu had several regular dj gigs and was composing music. Creatively, Nobukazu Takemura is inspired by the "impressionist and objective conception" of John Cage, Brian Eno and Africa Bambaata, as well as the free form creativity of John Coltrane and Robert Wyatt.
Nobukazu Takemura is often joined by Aki Tsuyuko on vocals and video manipulation for live shows. She is a truly amazing animator, crucial collaborator and solo artist in her own right.
In the summer of ’99, Thrill Jockey released two works by Nobukazu Takemura, the full length Scope and it’s companion 12" Meteor, both of which were minimalist records noted for their delicate beauty. Takemura’s output in the US up to this point had been limited to imports released under the Child’s View, and Audio Sports Monikers. Shortly before the release of these titles many were introduced to Takemura through his appearance on the Steve Reich tribute CD, Reich Remixed. A subsequent one time only show alongside DJ Spooky, Bang on a Can and Coldcut in support of the Remixed record proved to be a revelation for those in attendance and he was singled out by the New York Times for his "brilliant" performance. Later that year Takemura toured the states with Jim O’Rourke and Brokeback in support of Scope. After the tour he spent an extended time in Chicago in order to collaborate with Ken "Bundy" Brown, Douglas McCombs and John McEntire. These sessions proved to be the cornerstones for what would become Sign. In the time between those recordings and the completion of Sign, Takemura issued another 12" and record (Hoshi No Koe) on Thrill Jockey and toured the US and Canada opening for Tortoise. Hoshi No Koe hinted at the direction Sign would go, which in turn is much different than Scope, and his time on tour proved to be a nightly "coming out" type of experience to many people.
Unlike Scope, which was very much a minimalist affair in the vein of Autechre or Oval, Sign overflows with rich, warm production and showcases Takemura’s unique and charming electronic playfulness. This playfulness was highlighted more recently on 2001’s Hoshi No Koe (Thrill Jockey) and has been most prevalent on many of his Child’s View releases. Takemura has stated that "making music for me is like a child humming," this simple statement belies the complex nature of the music, but also speaks to the heart of the results, playful melodies and whimsical textures and sounds. A great example is the melodically effected, computerized vocals on the title track, "Sign". Takemura amazingly manages to make the computer "vocals" sing. A further example of his playfulness is indicated by the twist of the sing into the title, "Sign".
Over the years Takemura’s music has been considered many things (Minimal Electronic, DJ/Hip-Hop, IDM, Electronica) yet he’s still has managed to defy categorization. His approach to composition is best viewed as a DJ using the computer as a tool much like a turntable, midi, or sampler. "Cogwheel" illustrates his technique well with its blend of a distant heartfelt melody, pleasingly bouncing, lightly dancing over bubbling rhythms and catchy beats, peppered with stutters, slips, trips, and glitches. "Souvenir in Chicago" on the other hand, is the collaborative effort featuring Douglas McCombs, Bundy K. Brown and John McEntire mentioned earlier. The production is perfectly undergirded by tamed guitar feedback/drone and incorporation of resonant tones and electronics that ebb and build within the mix along with McComb’s unique bass hooks/lines, skilled percussion beats, melodica, accordion and electronics. The end result attains an overall epic quality that is resplendent, exquisite and lush. "Meteor," which originally appeared as a 12" single over a year ago and immediately went out of print, is included in it’s glorious extended from. Spin called Takemura an enigma who stitches elegantly guileless symphonies out of a zillion delicate obsessive compulsive ticks." The infectious beats are a splendid way to close out the album.
But wait there’s more! Sign also comes with a bonus CD-ROM featuring a short film by noted Japanese artist and animator Katsura Moshino. The film uses the title track, "Sign" for it’s direction and is able to translate to screen a range of human emotions. The film is just one of many collaborations Takemura and Moshino have shared through the years. While Moshino is held in high regard for his association with Girlstudio and for his nightclub flier and poster art, which Mo'Wax, Towa Tei, Monday Michiru and Mondo Grosso have all commissioned him to produce, his biggest claim to fame in the US may come through AIBO (see attachment). AIBO is Sony’s robotic dog, which was designed by Moshino who in turn choose to work with Takemura. Moshino handled the actual design of the dog, while Takemura programmed over 200 electronic responses into the dog. Together the two have come up with pieces of modern technology that are unparalleled in combining the fields of audio and visual art.
As Takemura himself indicated, "Moshino's pictures put his viewers in a strange mood."