We come from nowhere and fade back there again, leaving the foggy dreams and
obscure anxieties of this life behind when we go. Life is enigma, and with great
respect for the vagaries of this truth, 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-analog 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 mu-
sics, 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.