The title NoGeo is an inversion of Neo Geo, a video game system from the early '90s and a music genre ushered in by Ryuichi Sakamoto through his album of the same name. Takahashi says he also drew from the "early '00s Brooklyn tabletop electronics scene." Overall, he wants the album to reflect his concept of technology as organic extensions of society and the planet, reflected in the selection of sounds. In NoGeo's best songs, Takahashi extracts a danceable palette from banal drones. Take "Cella," a track that makes a telephone's ring impossibly funky.
More interesting than the concepts is the slow, controlled simmer of exuberance that's all over NoGeo. Songs like "Coral D" create the feeling of floating through a digital landscape. The album plays like a smooth, minimalist study of video game-inspired electronic music.
Using an Elektron Monomachine as the backbone for his compositions, Takahashi takes a straightforward and unfussy attitude with his tracks. While they can be predictable, they aren't tiresome. When scoring his own films, John Carpenter would often use only a synth and drum machine as a way of cutting costs. His stripped-down method lead to things that flitted between cheesy and expansive. Perhaps unintentionally, NoGeo borrows from this attitude. Songs are compact thrillers, stretching cheap-o aesthetics into epic soundscapes. Highlights like "Orb-O" and "Low Frequency Wind" are full of buoyant snaps and whimsical sounds bouncing into each other. A dud like "Build" is more melodramatic, unable to decide what kind of song or situation it wants to convey.
Then there are tracks like "Kazoku Ogawa," which sounds like a half-hearted pastiche of '80s-tinged guitar and warbling, EDM-sourced buzzes. Throughout NoGeo, a handful of such moments muddle its clarity and risk making the nostalgia feel contrived. But Takahashi is mostly thoughtful with his approach. With an acute awareness of the past, he delivers updated versions of classic ideas better than many.