Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Here is another album which I've unearthed that illustrates YMO's seemingly ubiquitous clutch on the 1980s Japanese "Technopop" (and assorted non-mainstream) landscape. Ryuichi Sakamoto produced only a few tracks on this album (I think), but Sakamoto's work actually stands in opposition to much of the album. Unlike some of the other Yen-associated female singers of the era, Koharu Kisaragi is clearly the mind behind the project, and Tokai no Seikatsu is an singular musical experience for it. Sakamoto's "Neo-Plant" production feels primarily like functional studio experimentation. This makes sense in the context of the original 12" single, but in the context of this album it's a bit jarring, even despite it's three-part framing of the album, and the admittedly appealing music itself.
While "Neo-Plant" is moderately known, this full-length album (her only?) seems obscure, and is absent from her Discogs page. The two parts of "Neo-Plant" and "Plant Posi" feature funky, mildly-dated hip hop-influenced production from Sakamoto, the sound of experimentation as I have posited. The rest of the album is a real mixed-bag, style-wise, but a quality bag for sure. No word on production or players for the other songs on Tokai no Seikatsu, but since Discogs credits Kisaragi with production on most of the 12" single, I assume she wrote the majority of these songs as well.
In contrast to Sakamoto's contributions and the wild + funky, cut & paste maximalism of much of Tokai no Seikatsu, my personal favorite track is "Traumerei", an haunted and restrained fugue, with subtle male backing vocals and piano, bassoon and click-track instrumentation. I assume Kisaragi provided the arrangement, I'd love to find out for sure.
If anybody has a rip of the single, let me know. I'd like to hear b-side "Tail", which is absent, despite Neo Plant's inclusion of "Traumerei", the other track on Neo-Plant's second side.
According to Artcontext, Kisaragi "died a few years ago". Like so much of the information in this post and in this blog, I can't substantiate that claim. If any Japanese readers have more information on Koharu Kisaragi, please comment or message me directly. Anyway, enjoy this eclectic and rewarding album.
Stay tuned, I've got A LOT of music to post in the coming weeks.
(I apologize for the extravagant file size)