|Artists Kyoko Takenaka + Tomoki Sanders team with In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi & Pure Person Press to release their breathtaking debut record as Planet Q.
Gatefold Single LP w/ OBI & Insert
To explore and absorb Planet Q, the new record by artists Kyoko Takenaka + Tomoki Sanders, is to become untethered
from structural expectations, to reside in a realm where genre vanishes and a profound musical space remains, where the
absence of gravity causes curious things to occur.
It’s a spot where handclaps may not move in time, where sonic gurgles of unknown origin offer texture, where a deep,
hooky rhythm can propel a groove into the stratosphere.
At various times the tracks move like Dilla pieces, at others like Terry Riley explorations, like Flying Lotus or Milford
Graves or Alice Coltrane meditations. But every time you think you’ve got the sound figured out, it hits from another angle.
Though a brief missive at 33 minutes, you exit Planet Q as if leaving an utterly alien spot.
Setting: In 2021, during the covid lockdown in America, Takenaka and Sanders were both living in Tokyo without any gigs
or work to be found back home. They met at a mutual friend’s cafe in the Higashi-Koenji neighborhood, and the
connection was immediate. “The chances of us meeting not only someone else of the diaspora when the borders are
closed, but also queer and non-binary, and also a musician? Pretty slim, and pretty fateful,” Takenaka says.
In early 2022, the Omicron variant prompted a new round of isolation. Returning to New York, they united with kindred
musicians by going to private jam sessions, but at the time those evenings didn't tap the magic they were seeking. They
decided to quarantine and create together. Takenaka was living alone at the time so they invited Sanders to crash there.
Says Takenaka, “We made rice, ate natto, meditated and made music for seven days straight.”
That they would create something masterful does seem somehow predestined. Sanders’ late father is the brilliant
composer and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, their mother a life-long music fanatic who nurtured the same. The younger
Sanders, who grew up in New York and Tokyo, has been playing music – drums, saxophone, clarinet, piano – and
absorbing profound sound since they had baby teeth. Takenaka is a first-generation Nikkei Japanese American actor,
butoh dancer and filmmaker who also grew up with music; their father was a jazz pianist, and by age 7 they were already
singing at jam sessions in Boston. Planet Q is Takenaka and Sanders’ debut musical collaboration.
That week together in isolation was pretty ritualized. Their aim, Takenaka says, was to create “a really beautiful, secluded
safe space for ourselves as qtpoc folx – a planet where we both belong – and to make music as we created the space.
Basking in it. Being inside it.”
They quickly fell into a daily routine that commenced with an improvised spoken meditation, tidbits of which made it onto
the record. The layout of Takenaka’s apartment – an open kitchen looking out on the living room – afforded them the
chance to mix rituals. They prepped meals and sampled parts of the process. Cooking rice, making curry, eating natto –
the sounds simmer throughout Planet Q. Dancing and calligraphy also informed the compositions. Takenaka calls it
“embodying the process, the textures.”
Tomoki says, “Before Hip hop, in my dad’s age, the saxophone was where the rapper, or the electric guitar spotlighted. It
was only $500 to buy a saxophone in the 50’s...now its anywhere from $3000-$10,000. However, we fortunately are in a
current time to have a whole studio literally in our laptops – and you can get a $50 midi device from a music store or
online. Time of technology has advanced the music, the sound, the production – I’m challenged to reimagine things in
ways never been thought before.”
Though each piece has distinct traits, Planet Q feels more like a suite of tracks, a gathering of waveforms that, despite
their differences, when woven together create an utterly striking piece. The intention-setting opening piece was born
through their improvised morning meditations. Tomoki uses bells their father gifted them.
“‘My Sweet, My Tender, My Loving, Home’ is dedicated to my dad and his metaphysical and galactic sounds, that is
grounding,” Tomoki says. “Every intention I put into the style of music or energy comes from him and the ancestors, or
god, ‘subconsciously’ – being a continuation of his DNA but in a completely different generation and time; me matching his
point of view in spirituality and raising a level of self-consciousness.”
Borders blur. Rhythms lope and gallop. “竹” is a beat-driven rush featuring Takenaka on guitar. When Sanders grabs their
tenor saxophone for “Grow,” the result vibes like a funky film-noir soundtrack, with Takenaka reciting the title.
Their tools: bells, electric guitar, piano, shakers, saxophone, African thumb piano, flute, keyboard, drum programming and
voice. Most importantly, Planet Q is the sound of two devoted artists committing in full to exploring the mystic, hellbent on
mastering the ways that two mortals can, with focus, desire and ancestral guidance, unite in music to create something
that transcends the here-and-now.