Isao Tomita: Arabesque No. 1

84-year-old composer and synth soothsayer Isao Tomita passed away this weekend in Tokyo. He introduced the near-infinite possibilities of a relatively new invention, the Moog modular synthesizer to Japan—approaching the instrument like an orchestra that could express sounds and “colors” never heard before, and evoke sensual qualities. Especially loved was his 1974 album Snowflakes Are Dancing (with the impressive subtitle: Virtuoso Electronic Performances of Debussy’s Beautiful Tone Paintings by Tomita). He took Claude Debussy’s beautiful wandering piano compositions, like “Arabesque no.1” and “Clair de lune,” to another dimension. One of our favorite quotes from an interview he did with Resident Advisor: “Back then, I was often criticized for using an electronic instrument, but the sound of thunder has been around since the dawn of time, and that’s electricity.”