A wonderful and rare record, wrapped in a mysterious yet playful ambiance.
Yasuaki Shimizu is a Japanese composer, producer, and saxophone player born in 1954. He worked with a number collaborators: Ryuchi Sakimoto on certain arrangements, the South Korean artist Nam June Paik on art+sound installation pieces, and even DJ Towa Tei (of Deee-Lite fame). The opening track entitled “Suiren” was released on its own a year before the full album, (and is personally my favourite track). Maybe it’s just the impression that the sound of the Japanese language gives me, but it feels like ‘Suiren’ is boiling, waiting to burst while somehow managing to stay in control. It’s similar to the nervous tick of a leg fidgeting under a restaurant table when out on a first date.
Repetitive and hypnotizing, punctuated by exclamation marks on most first measures, the muted triangle percussion hits me straight in the heart. About 90 seconds into the song, the saxophone makes its appearance and the song goes from “this is cute” to “oh, this is some serious shit!”. Shimizu’s saxophone frees the song from the rest of the elements which are more calculated and repetitive.
Here is Suiren, a joyful and mysteriously slow-moving train ride led by the artist’s mellow voice that rocks us with this calming but funky lullaby. Every phrase is punctuated by the xylophone which energizes the piece, albeit very subtly.
Other tracks from the “Kakashi” album (Audio Previews – 96k)
Up until now, there was only one edition of the vinyl pressing of this record (Better Days, 1982) but word on the street tells me it will be reissued on Jet Set Records this spring. Regardless which version of the vinyl (and its glorious cover art) you manage to find – cherish it, frame it, sleep with it.Purchase Album
Also highly recommended on the same label (Better Days) is the only album from Coloured Music, another highly sought after Japanese experimental record from the early 80’s.