The award-winning film, television, and stage composer Mathieu Karsenti is a true artist and musical visionary of modern sonic landscapes.
With each piece of work released, he uses the art of visualization to approach the music as a painter who oversees every aspect of his career without concession. In addition, part of his compositions includes outstanding solo performances in which he showcases his distinctive croons.
Allowing "Tōji - 冬至 - (part I & II)" to be an evocative conveyance of his artistic abilities, Mathieu Karsenti offers listeners the chance to dip into his dynamic world. Through an amalgamation of instrumental harmonies that set a rather meditative atmosphere, a deluxe infusion of worlds is brought through the speakers as this philosophical ballad reflects the winter solstice.
Instilling moments of cathartic relief as you're toured through myriad emotions, Mathieu Karsenti molds the prolific soundscapes to unravel an extensive truth perceptive to the listener.
Each note bends in the direction Karsenti flexes his canvas. Glimmers of potent strings navigate through a spectrum of instruments as we're privy to sustaining guitar riffs, warm basslines, and profound violin crescendos that swell in intensity and embed themselves amongst capacious sound effects.
Although bold and triumphant in nature, this entire composition paints imagery reflective of delicate transitions. Taking place mid-winter in Japan, Karsenti aims for the listener to focus on images of short days and long nights in Hokkaido. This year's end represents a symbolic death of what was just endured over the curse of the previous seasons yet aims at the hopefulness of rebirth as new adventures are soon to make way.
As "Tōji - 冬至 - (part I & II)" ends, Karsenti's mission is complete as what's been gathered leaves a lasting impression. Grateful for the chance to peer through his artistic lens, we encourage all listeners to get lost in the mounting sounds of "Tōji - 冬至 - (part I & II)."
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Mathie Karsenti! Congratulations on releasing "Tōji - 冬至 - (part I & II)." We thoroughly enjoyed every moment that this sonic landscape brought to the speakers. What inspired you to bring such a thought-out concept to life?
During my first Xmas in LA in 2022, I played around with an electric guitar and some live string samples I had from previous recordings. Quickly, I had the basic structure for a sonic landscape that felt evocative of winter, with its melancholic and personal moments of reflection. I’m a fan of Japanese culture, Anime, films, and Japanese art, and I had in my head an image of snowy landscapes in beautiful Hokkaido, Northern Japan, where the sun is low, the days are short, the nights are long, and we leave the year behind. The winter solstice, or Tōji, is a time to reflect and greet the new year ahead.
Through the intricate details that make up this whole notion, how long did it take for you to create a masterpiece as such?
Everything happened very quickly. I’m used to writing music pretty fast because of tight deadlines in film and TV, and this one flowed very easily. I’m playing the guitar loosely here because I didn’t want a chordal structure to define everything - I wanted fragments and bits of melodies to develop and ebb away like old thoughts we discard as we move onto new things. The strings evolve similarly, allowing me to create a progression, a type of musical journey without committing to one idea, a bigger landscape that incorporates many different elements. In the end, I had two separate overall ideas, two passages if you want. So I could show musically a definite Part I and Part II linked together with similar orchestration. Both parts offer different moments: at times dark, even sinister, at other times uplifting and hopeful.
What musical and non-musical influences do you tend to look to as inspiration?
Like most artists, I get inspiration from many sources. Because of my background in Applied Arts, I am definitely inspired by all art forms, such as Graphic Design, Fine art, Architecture, Fashion, Product design, dance, music, acting, film, culture, and travel. Everything is linked to me, and there’s no single artistic expression that I translate into a specific musical idea! A lot of the time, I will absorb many ideas from various sources to then distill them in my creative process. Over time, you develop a language and a creative voice that can evolve and incorporate new elements. Also, I always try and give myself different musical challenges to see how I will react creatively. Each project is like an adventure, a journey of discovery.
Is there a particular message you'd like them to take away from "Tōji - 冬至 - (part I & II)?"
As with all my releases, I create music to engage the audience’s imagination. I usually avoid creating specific emotions because I try to emulate how we feel on a human level which is very complex and multi-layered. Often with applied music, the goal of a piece is very precise, and it has to accompany and support a movie scene, a narrative, or a specific emotion. Still, in my releases, it is my time to be free to express various musical landscapes without limitations. I am also an abstract painter, and my music parallels that work: abstract musical paintings that let the listener imagine what they want.
What's next for you?
My next album, 'Nocturnes,’ was completed in 2022, and I will release it in April 2023.
In 2022, I had a few other projects I wanted to put out, such as my ‘Piano Paintings’ and ‘Clair-Obscur' suite for solo piano, but I feel 2023 is a good time to release this new body of work. ’Nocturnes’ has a similar sound to ‘Tōji (Part I & II), but with added clarinet, flute, violin, and viola. It explores nighttime, how inspiring and mysterious it is, and how comforting and primordial it can feel. The album can work best played at night (it won’t give you nightmares, hopefully) as it is relaxing and evocative of dreams.