In 2013 a new kind of sensation began to make waves in Japan’s Indie Rock scene known as “Mori Wa Ikiteiru”. Formed by a group of university students, the precociousness and sound of “Mori Wa Ikiteiru” captivated many fans then– likening the band’s sound to a modern-day “Happy End” (Haroumi Hosono, etc.) until the band broke up after its second album. Despite the band’s split, the band left its legacy and its leader with new direction– Takuro Okada began his solo career with the release of two original albums, “Nostalgia” and “Morning Sun.” Exploring his musical prowess in the following years, Okada became not just a singer-songwriter but a sound producer, film composer, guitarist, improvisational musician, with undoubtedly more to come as he continues to develop.
Challenging what contemporary pop meant then and today, Okada releases his first album in two years. “Betsu no Jikan” since his 2020 masterpiece “Morning Sun.” Through this time of Okada’s own discovery, he questioned what it meant to be “musical” in this day and age— “Betsu no Jikan” to be released this coming summer, is the culmination of this two-year exploration. Improvisation with the likes of drummer Shun Ishiwaka, Jim O’Rourke, to name a few, were revived and collaged into “Betsu No Jikan.” The album features artists from both within Japan and abroad including Shun Ishiwaka, Carlos Nino, Sam Gendel, Jim O’Rourke, Nels Cline (Wilco), Marty Holoubek, even Japanese legends like Haroumi Hosono (Happy End, Yellow Magic Orchestra), etc. The improvisations and collaborations of artists with such range into Okada’s contemporized musical pieces were selected and captured by such talent because of their unique approach to technique and interpretation.
Okada’s own techniques has given the work a unique treatment that emphasizes each note in its contrast, highlighting the sound of each note. This method echoes that of the “postmodern pop” sound, an engineering method similar to that of the older “sampling music” sound. Similar to the improvisational sound of Miles Davis Group, it seems to follow the great success of Davis’ collective improv, skillfully restructured by Theo Macero who highlighted the texture of each note. “Betsu No Jikan” opens with a cover of Coltrane’s “Supreme Love,” interpreted in this Macero-like approach.
From his time with "Mori Wa Ikiteiru” up and through “Betsu No Jikan,” Okada’s ambition and curiousity intersecting with his evolution as a musician have led him to this question at the crossroads– “what is pop?