Evocative harp music sends love from Japan…
Julia Mascetti has established herself as a freelance harpist and music teacher, currently living in Tokyo. A few years back, Julia had emerged on the anime con circuit with her unique cover versions of classic anime tunes. Utilising the harp and her distinctive voice – and usually accompanied by Arthur Rei on guitar – Julia delivered covers of songs such as ‘Itsumo Nando Demo’ (Spirited Away), ‘To Zanarkand’(Final Fantasy) and ‘Hikoukigumo’ (The Wind is Rises).
In 2016, she was struck down with serious illness and spent several months in recuperation. It was during this period that she connected with musician and producer Oliver Wood. Having spent time writing her own original material, the pair worked on developing Julia’s songs with a view to eventually releasing an EP.
The end result of that collaboration arrived this year in the form of In Distance, Everything Is Poetry, a 4 track release that takes its inspiration in part from Julia’s time living in Japan.
Opening track ’S.A.D.’ is a reflective piece whose harp and string arrangements lend the track a poignant air. It’s a track that throws a nod to the condition (seasonal affective disorder) while also weaving in the idea of missing someone far away (“Have I ever told you, that your love was the thread that sewed up the cracks in me?”).
‘Driving In Darkness’, meanwhile, muses on the issues of nighttime driving. The rapid-fire delivery of the vocals lend a whimsical element to the song (“Till it’s 2am on the megabus/Never tend to make a fuss”) while also casting an odd magic over a fairly mundane activity.
It’s the evocative melodies of ‘In Bloom’ however that marks out the EP’s finest moment. Here, Julia’s voice is front and centre and weaves in some fine soprano delivery that calls to mind early Virginia Astley. Themes of doubt and self-reflection are threaded throughout the song, which is buoyed up some fine use of shamisen by Arthur Rei. A swelling strings finale gives the piece a fitting closure.
The EP’s final track, ‘The Turtle Dove’, is an expanded adaptation of a traditional folk song. The longest track on the EP, it also features some nice flute elements (courtesy of Oliver Wood, who also handled the string arrangements on the EP). The longest track on the release, it also features some touching lyrical flourishes: “I’ve stolen dreams and burnt down bridges/The harm I’ve done I can’t deny”.
In essence, In Distance, Everything Is Poetry is a love letter of sorts to Japan itself. But it’s examined through the lens of a western perspective, in this case taking on Julia’s fascination for the Celtic folk roots of her Welsh ancestry. It’s a concise and captivating series of tracks that are perfect for moments of reflection and mood.
In Distance, Everything Is Poetry is out now.
He is responsible for design outfit Arc23 as well as writing for outlets such as J-Pop Go, Electronic Sound, All The Anime, Manga Entertainment and The Electricity Club.
He has been featured in a variety of press and media features including the Metro and Japan Update Weekly.