1. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Saru To Yuki Gami No Kodomo
2. Bill Nelson – Heart and Soul
3. Mori Ra – On the Edge of Flip
4. Leopold Nord & Vous – Les Hippopotamtam
5. Isabelle Antena – La Vie Est Trôp Courte
6. Patrice Rushen – Watch Out!
7. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Steppin’ Into Asia
8. Jah Wobble – Hold Onto Your Dreams
9. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Limbo
10. Blonde Mom – Neverhits 1
11. Pegmo – 10,000 秒の恋
12. Akiko Yano – きょうのわたくし
13. Anne Steel – Sparkling World
My newest mix for NTS Radio is a 坂本龍一 (Ryuichi Sakamoto) special! Not an exhaustive overview, just some personal highlights. If you like it, you can download an mp3 version here.
In related news, if you’re interested in listening to my NTS show live, my time slot has just moved to every fourth Wednesday at 1pm EST/5pm GMT, which I hope will be a more convenient time for many. The next one will be airing on channel 2 on March 22nd. Thanks for listening!
1. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Thousand Knives
2. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Neue Tanz
3. Ryuichi Sakamoto – You Do Me
4. Ryuichi Sakamoto – E-3A
5. Virginia Astley – I’m Sorry
6. Ryuichi Sakamoto – A Carved Stone
7. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
8. Hector Zazou – Hapolot Kenym
9. Ryuichi Sakamoto & Thomas Dolby – Fieldwork (London Mix)
10. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Kai-koh
11. Akiko Yano – Ashkenazy Who?
12. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Whales (NTT Data 1990)
13. Ryuichi Sakamoto & Robin Scott – Once In A Lifetime
A YouTube forage on a late-night mission to find everything related to early 80’s Telex eventually led me to Alec Mansion. The first track to hit me was “En Volant” (a sublime slice of uplifting disco-boogiefunk and well worth sniffing out) from his first LP Microfilms, but his self-titled follow-up album has an excellent run of dance floor bangers and so gets our attention here today. Instant winners are “Ou Es-Tu,” which gives RIPrince a run for his money in fizzy funk synth territory, and “Laid, Bête, Et Méchant” (roughly “Ugly, Stupid, and Mean”), which snaps harder than a stretched pair of disco knickers.
Impossible to find a hard copy and commanding high prices when it does rear its head in the vinyl market, so I highly suggest you grab this and save yourselves a few months waiting time…and a scramble to find a few hundred clams when it does.
High recommends for fans of Telex and Lio. Repress please!
Classic. Maurizio Dami (aka Alexander Robotnick) went on to collaborate with traditional musicians from India, Algeria, and Kurdistan; release music for transcendental meditation; give Florence its first ambient music festival; and start a label, as well as release a slew of electro and disco records, though it’s his first release that most people remember for its unabashed, almost grotesque dance floor classics. Relentless and completely disinterested in taking itself seriously. Enjoy!
The best. Alongside Giorgio Moroder and maybe Kraftwerk, Patrick Cowley can be said to be the most influential figure in electronic dance music. A hero in the west coast gay club scene, and a hero to everyone who likes to dance. Megatron Man is relentless, orchestral, high-energy perfection, sure to induce a natural high on any dance floor it graces. “Sea Hunt” might be my favorite song in the world to dance to. This music is so joyous and unabashed that it made his successive and last record, Mind Warp, all the more hard-hitting as a dark disco concept album about succumbing to the effects of HIV, which claimed his life 33 years ago today at the age of 32. (One of the few useful things that Gawker has ever done is this beautiful piece about Mind Warp.)
Had he not left us too soon, Patrick Cowley most certainly would have continued to dominate the electronic dance underground. Still, he’s left his mark on an endlessly grateful community, and he would no doubt be happy to read YouTube comments on his songs like “OMG! I remember! YES! I was getting PHUKED in the East Village, NYC rooftops when this song was hot on the Disco Floors! Dam I miss those Gay Anonymous Hookup Days! ;-)” and “I met Patrick at The Hexagon House where Sylvester was performing. He was one hot man. We were both staying in cabins at The Woods Resort and briefly hooked up while partying the entire weekend away. I would often see him in the clubs around town after that and we’d party and dance until dawn. I never realized until now but I kind of miss that era.” Thanks for everything, Patrick.
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 Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’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!
It was difficult to pick just one Yello record, but Gotta Say Yes seemed like a good place to start since it’s the last LP to feature Yello co-founder Carlos Perón (above, right; forthcoming Dark Entries reissue of his EP here). Composer and audio engineer Boris Blank (above, left), famous for building an original sample library of over 100,000 named and categorized sounds, had recently acquired a Fairlight CMI, which he masterfully exploited in the production of a very distinct brand of slick ‘n sleazy sonic embroidery. This is not trigger-happy kitsch pop–the songs are carefully structured and musical (sorry), stretching the limits of electro towards tribal, drum and bass, and techno. The songs are narrated by millionaire industrialist, poker player, golfer and Dada performance artist Dieter Meier (above, center, of course), though Yello went on to collaborate with a handful of vocalists, including Billy Mackenzie and Shirley Bassey. Perpetually surprising, throbbing, and creepily funny, Gotta Say Yes is one of my favorite dance records to listen to in headphones.
There’s an amazing video below of one of their only live performances ever (theirs wasn’t an easy sound to reproduce live, to put it lightly) at the Roxy in ’83, immediately after the release of Gotta Say Yes, here. The video below is a nutso extended version of the title track, not included on the album.
Arguably one of the most important UK techno LPs ever. Just as happy to be heard in headphones as in a grimy warehouse. Gorgeous, heart-skittering, crunchy sci-fi futurism rendered in perfect detail. Perpetually surprising and joyful throughout. A fully-realized prediction of two decades of electronic dance music. Mark Bell died six months ago and I’ve been thinking about him a lot recently, partially because of the Björk retrospective (he co-produced Homogenic, among many others), but largely because of this record, which is a gift.