Bold and colourful, this album may be the Japanese minimal artist's best record.
Tanaka's creative arc has been easy to chart. You can hear the influence of Surgeon in his earlier, harder techno work. The sleeker house releases on his label, Sundance, through the '00s slotted neatly into the minimal zeitgeist. His sustained grooves, indecipherable vocal hooks and spooky atmospheres made him a smart fit on Perlon, too. The German label has been a positive force in encouraging his creative spirit. 2016's You Find The Key LP was a persuasive study of the tension between flair and functionality, comprised of tracks built like DJ tools but peppered with personality.
Though last year's AB and CD 12-inches stuck faithfully to Tanaka's minimal playbook, the shapely melodic lines of "Dreaming Perfect Zebras" hinted at a new, intriguing direction. Still, Right Moment feels like a shift in attitude. It's not that Tanaka has rejected his musical lineage—this is still a four-on-the-floor Perlon record. But it's as though Tanaka has swung his spiky house rhythms like a mace through a hall of paint-filled balloons. Colour radiates everywhere. The drums are thicker and richer. The vocals, too, sound louder in the mix.
Even with a natural instinct for experimentation, Tanaka's music until now has existed in a more purist strain of minimal. The gutsy energy of this record, though, transcends the trappings of the style in thrilling fashion. There's more space for melodic themes to steer the track—heard especially on the dramatic orchestrations of "Live Like Music," the album's highlight—but these themes are also strange and subtle enough to mesmerise.
For all its technical refinement (a pristine mixdown, well-paced arrangements), Tanaka sounds freer than ever throughout this record. The beats sound urgent in a way that minimal sometimes isn't. Speaking recently to RA's Midori Hayakawa, Tanaka said, "Every moment only happens once." He was referring to the growth of his young son, but you can also sense the mindful embrace of the present, an openness to possibility, throughout Right Moment. It may be the best record he's made.