Ichiko Hashimoto – Mood Music, 1987

Odd that this is my first Ichiko Hashimoto post, given how much I admire her work–though her catalogue covers so much ground that it’s hard to know quite where to start. A trained jazz pianist, composer, and singer, Hashimoto was one half of Colored Music (friendly reminder that this record is so great), made a slew of ambitious solo records, performed with YMO, collaborated with Belladonna of Sadness composer Masahiko Sato, and scored an anime series, all while establishing herself as an powerful and singular composer, arranger, and producer. Though she’s worked across many genres, she’s maintained a signature proclivity towards gently sinister and avant-garde arrangements, and lugubriouis, pillowy vocals (her love of chanson-style singing pops up all over her discography, not just here).

Mood Music might not be her most canonical record, but it’s a personal favorite and has been on repeat recently. Comprised mostly of jazz standards, the record cribs heavily from bossa nova, samba, and exotica, but Hashimoto quietly subverts these textures into something darker, and at times, less familiar. Her quavering, syrupy-swoony orchestration suggests a Scott Walker-esque approach to sentimentality, particularly on thick and headier arrangements like “Poinciana” and “Night and Day.” The record’s two original compositions, “Flower” and “Île De Étrange,” are its most interesting, with the former a white-knuckled, percussionless tower of taut-string urgency, and the latter a hypnagogic, dubby piece of acid jazz. Mood music indeed.

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Osamu Shoji – Night Flight, 1979

Album artwork says it all. Exotica-tinged, phaser-heavy Japanese library music, with a whole lot of new age-inspired arpeggiation and sci-fi synth pads. All credits go to the very prolific Shoji, with a note that the Synthesizer “Space-Sizer 360” was invented and supplied by Noriyasu Fukuda. I can’t find anything about the synth or its inventor anywhere. Shoji put out a cool 39 records between 1971 and 1987, including what appears to be an entire album of Bee Gees covers–does anyone have this? I need it. Shoji also makes an appearance on our OMG Japan mix. For fans of Hiroshi SatoTomita, Joël Fajerman.

Mix for NTS Radio

We made a two hour mix for NTS Radio. Tracklisting below. If you like it, download it here. Enjoy!
Tracklisting:
0:00 Richard Burmer – Physics
3:31 Masami Tsuchiya – Nevermind (Excerpt)
6:28 Carlos Maria Trindade – The Truth
9:09 Joe Hisaishi – The Winter Requiem
13:49 Bill Nelson – Pansophia
14:41 Anna Homler & Steve Moshier – Celestial Ash (Excerpt)
20:09 Toshifumi Hinata – Chaconne
24:45 George Wallace – Electric Night
31:23 Danyel Gérard – La Vieux de la Montagne
35:41 Steve Tibbetts – 100 Moons
40:50 Hector Zazou & Dead Can Dance – Youth (Excerpt)
42:26 Codek – Tim Toum
46:22 Şenay – Doy-Doy-Doymadım
51:57 Joan Bibiloni – Sa Fosca
58:45 Jaco Pastorius – Okonkole Y Trompa
1:03:00 Blue Gas – Shadows From Nowhere
1:06:58 Rasta Instantané – Kylyn
1:11:56 Boban Petrović – Zajedno Srećni
1:16:52 Saâda Bonaire – More Women
1:21:51 Christy Essien Igbokwe – You Can’t Change A Man
1:25:34 Hiroshi Sato – Awakening
1:29:06 Love, Peace & Trance – Hush – A Mandala Ni Pali
1:33:15 Asha Bhosle & Ghulam Ali – Roodad-E-Mohabbat Kya Kahiye Kuchh Yaad Rahi Kuchh Bhool Gaye
1:38:52 New Musik – Areas
1:43:00 CFCF – Vermont
1:47:45 Hiroshi Yoshimura – Time After Time
1:56:27 Gervay Briot – Science

Hiroshi Sato – Orient, 1979

Synth-funk exotica at its finest. Hiroshi Sato (sometimes “Satoh”) seems to slip through the cracks, though he was arguably one of the most important Japanese keyboardists of his time. He played keyboards on almost every Tatsuro Yamashita record of the 70s and 80s, and contributed to much of Hosono’s solo work, including the beloved Cochin Moon. Unsurprisingly, Hosono makes some appearances here on bass. Sato died in Yokohama on October 24th, 2012. His only daughter, Chirudo, had to say of her father:

His life’s work was pouring his everything enthusiastically into music. He also loved his studio in Yokohama, putting in speakers and installing the equipment and synthesizers one by one. He fell down and breathed his last breath in that studio while he was making music. He was sixty-five years old, and an acute dissecting aneurysm of the aorta was the cause of his death. However, this is the least important aspect of his passing. Despite an instant death, I believe he knew the time had come, because he was sitting cross-legged with his hands joined together, as if practicing Zen meditation. He was alone, but not lonely, because whenever he was surrounded by music he was happy, as if he were an innocent child. He lived life as a musician and lived as a musician with his whole life.

Orient is mostly instrumental, with vocals by Hiroshi Sato and Masaki Ueda on “Son Go Kuw,” “Tsuki No Ko No Namae Wa Leo,” and “Bright Wind.” Cheeky and heady, with immaculate percussion. Lightyears ahead of its time. Thanks for everything, Hiroshi.

Note: Hiroshi Sato also makes an appearance on our OMG Japan mix.