Nobukazu Takemura isn't treading new ground with Animate. A majority of the tracks settle into one ambient, experimental groove and stick in that position for an extended period of time. Six of the nine tracks hover near or past the ten-minute mark. Glitches and crackling abound, unsettling sculpted notes linger in the air and repeat with little variation, high-pitched squelches and processed bells add punctuation, and everything seems hermetically modulated or obsessively controlled. Subtle sonic variations in the lengthier songs demand close attention. One wonders if he or she is the soundtrack for an art installation or the sound of a man perfecting a musical style that is his bread and butter. There are many moments where the textures of Takemura's brittle creations recall backing tracks to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. As on a number of his albums, Takemura inserts vocoder-processed vocals into a handful of the songs. This decidedly lo-fi speech-singing strips the music of some of its gravity, but never suggests a movement toward traditional pop songwriting. Those who expect sweet melodies and gentle themes from the cute sleeve artwork and baby-animal song titles might find Animate too challenging, but those who appreciate Takemura's carefully honed, consistent artistry won't be disappointed.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina