His voice is delicate. His guitar style tight. His songs minimalist. Physically, Tsutomu Satachi is completely spare; not a single thing sticks out of place. Faced with an entity built so infinitesimally, it would be easy for us to miss him, to continue our commotion while he knits skillfully around us. There’s no doubt that for many passengers that morning, Tsutomu went unnoticed, tossed about by the tumult of the metro.
We don’t hold it against them. The first time I met Tsutomu in Tokyo, I wasn’t really expecting much. It’s easy to dismiss something we assume to be insignificant. And yet, the first night that I heard him sing his songs, I felt instantly that something special was happening. The crowd quickly quieted down, trying to get as much as they could of every tiny detail, of the fragility of the man. Myself, I was struck by these songs – seamless in their simplicity, so particular in their execution, precise and rough at the same time.
Later, he made me listen to the album – his first recorded solo – full of pearls, eight of them. A soft and enveloping caress that takes its time, a repetition of motifs that plunges us into fantasy. So we forgave him his rough accent and the confined sound of his very small apartment – the one, in fact, where he recorded the album. If you listen to it closely, you can even hear a car pass by on that little Tokyo street, on the other side of the world.
Tsutomu’s music is fragile like that. And yet, upon meeting the everyday noise of the metro, surrounded by French salarymen from North Paris, he sneaks fearlessly among the sonorous masses of our city. His musical passages linger on, leaving time for the elements to cool off, and allowing him to naturally proclaim his melodic moment without ever forcing anything. Between the sounds of imminent departures, of rush hour and of the gulls’ excitement in wintry capital air, Tsutomu lets himself slide along mysteriously with the current to distill his wisely chosen notes.
God knows that culture shock must have had an impact on this isolated Japanese man, a fan of Tenniscoats. But the ambling is natural, slow and tranquil. You have to be in this state of mind to capture the simple poetry of the moment. You have to listen to hear where this trip takes us. You either take the time to appreciate it or let that time pass you by; find something else to excite you – another brighter, more colorful spectacle. It would be your loss.
The album The Beginning was made available on iTunes on October 9, 2014. For more info on Tsutomu at his music, click here.
Translated by Lauren McCracken