October 21, 2015

Joe Hisaishi - Curved Music, 1986

Gorgeous album from Joe Hisaishi, the mind behind the massive soundtracks to Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess MononokeSpirited AwayHowl's Moving Castle, and around one hundred other things, which is to say that if you've ever watched anime you've probably heard his work. (Fun fact: Hisaishi, née Fujisawa Mamoru, takes his stage name from a Japanese re-transcription of the name Quincy Jones: Quincy is pronounced "Kuinshi," or "Kuishi," which can be approximated in Japanese using the same kanji as "Hisaishi.")

Curved Music alternates between new wave-tinged synth pop songs and shorter instrumental vignettes, often employing more traditional Japanese folk and classical instruments. Highlights include the aching, anthemic “The Winter Requiem,” Sakamoto-esque rolling synth-organ on “Tsuki No Sabuku No Shoujo," and the minute long plastic violin cream puff “White Silence.” Elsewhere, find a baroque faux-flute interlude (the brilliantly titled “Classic”) and what might be a Terry Riley homage (“A Rainbow In Curved Music”) that seems to nod more explicitly to Art of Noise and Depeche Mode. Ignore the album artwork and enjoy!

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