CD Review: “Lingua Franca,” Dugo

03/09/2017 11:48 am ET

The definition of “lingua franca” is a common language used among people who speak diverse languages. For example, the lingua franca of airline pilots is English. Gore Vidal said, “Movies are the lingua franca of the twentieth century.”

Thus the title of Dugo’s new CD – Lingua Franca – asserts that music, too, is a common language. Dugo is the pseudonym, the alias, of Takahiro Izutani, the composer of video game and television soundtracks. He’s actually quite famous among the cognoscenti of the gaming world. And let me add here that if you want this CD, you had better not waste any time because only 800 were pressed. There was also a vinyl/LP version available, but it sold out almost overnight. You snooze, you lose.

Stylistically, most commentators place Dugo in the electronica/breakbeat category. And that’s about as accurate as you can be in this case; it’s almost ambient music, except for the melody factor. It’s strange stuff, not in a weird or experimental way; rather it’s strange because it’s so different from other music – beautiful and alluring. In a sense, you could describe it as psychedelic, if it wasn’t so structured. Some might call it “world music,” but it’s not. It’s not ostentatious enough to be world music. And it’s not gaming music because it’s too developed and intricate.

Electronica is about the best description you can come up with. That being said, it should be immediately noted that “electronica” misses the mark and doesn’t do the music justice.


Lingua Franca contains nine tracks, and there isn’t a clunker among them. All nine are excellent. And they should be, really, because Dugo spent ten years on the project, utilizing various international musicians and artists to bring his vision to culmination.

My favorite tracks are “Sunburst” and “Boat on the River.” Dugo’s song titles are onomatopoetic, that is, the music sounds like the title. When listening to “Sunburst,” you can envision and feel the sun coming up over the horizon, filling the landscape with light. To that end, it’s almost Biblical, as if God said, “Let there be light,” and then the angelic orchestra played “Sunburst,” as light came into being.

Another favorite is “Gliding Bird,” where, you guessed it, I imagined myself an eagle of impressive wingspan, riding the updrafts above snow-covered mountain peaks. Just floating on an ocean of air. It’s wonderful stuff, daydreaming music.

My advice is to get this CD today. And no, I’m not receiving any kickbacks. It’s simply glorious music, performed by superb musicians. You can’t ask for more than that.

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