Masaki Batoh’s ‘Nowhere’ reaches out of the darkness, with strings of steel and voices echoing out of time.
In the summer of 2018, Masaki Batoh held sessions at GOK Sound in Tokyo, with the goal of making his fourth solo album. With a pure folk singer approach, he started the recordings as a basic live performance of guitar with vocal, using only two mics. If more elements were needed, they would be added - but most important to him was to capture the performance as immediately as possible.
GOK Sound is an all-analogue recording facility and once Batoh had added a few elements such as bass, percussion, harmony vocals, electric guitar, harp and a bit of mellotron (all played by himself in response to his basic performances) and added the necessary reverb, the world of ‘Nowhere’ was rendered as deep and sparkling as he had hoped, consecrating the spiritual intentions of his songs.
Batoh played the basic tracks with acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars, mainly a 1973 Guild D-40 and a 1972 Guild F-212. Two 1968 Gibson models (a J50 and a B12) were used, as well as a 1972 Martin D18, a 1966 Pirles long-neck 5-string banjo and a Gibson Firebird for electric guitar. Everything was tuned to drop D, a tuning taught to him in the early 1980s by the legendary British folk musician Martin Carthy, when Batoh was traveling through London. Many of the lyrics of ‘Nowhere’ - sung in English, Japanese and, on one song, Latin - reference his younger days as well, when traveling the world and witnessing for himself the majesty and shame of humanity.
The sound of ‘Nowhere’ reflects with dimensional richness the world that Batoh has been traveling since those early days - a vast space echoing with the music of many eras, played and sung in tongues of many nations. This is a world where the guitar can play songs as they’ve been played for centuries, or play in a hauntingly hallucinogenic style or, as in the closing track, play with an open mind and heart, thinking about these things without knowing exactly where it will end.
The theme of Batoh’s music is finding a common tradition in all these various musics, to bring them forward in his own style and provoke a shared desire to promote humanity in the audience. Batoh has opened the door for you - if you are able to pass through, ‘Nowhere’ is waiting for you.
BATOH, MASAKI – NOWHERE
- Tower Of The Silence
- Devil Got Me
- Gaucho No Sora
- Dum Spiro Spero