Friday, January 10, 2014

Tetsuro Kashibuchi featuring Akiko Yano - Hotel Lilas (Canyon, 1983)

Released 6.21.1983

The hotel seems to have had a special appeal for Japanese musicians in the synthpop era. On a trip down the highways and byways of this music, you will end up visiting many of them, perhaps beginning with Yokoo and Hosono's neon-lit pan-Asian Marienbad, the Malabar, then checking out for the nightlife at Tsuchiya's Hotel Atlantis, following that up with a rest at Yano's homey Elephant Hotel or Hosono and Koshi's serene Hotel Etoile. Most pleasant of all is Tetsuro Kashibuchi's seaside Hotel Lilas. The name's fragrance evokes the breezy, relaxing feeling of spending time with this record. A day's itinerary listed in the chorus of "Friends" is instantly enervating, though the 8:30 wake up call may be early for some. The brilliantly catchy "Himawara" and "The Two Mice in the Attic" could help with that. Kashibuchi hosts some superb collaborators too, including Akiko Yano, who duets, co-produces and shares piano and synth duty with Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as fellow Moonrider Ryomei Shirai on electric guitar and Haruomi Hosono on electric bass. A late citypop classic.

A1. ひまわり / Himawari / Sunflower
A2. リラのホテル / Lila no hoteru / Hotel Lila
A3. Friend
A4. 冬のバラ / Fuyu no bara / Rose of Winter
A5. 屋根裏の二匹のねずみ / Yane-ura no nihiki no nezumi / The Two Mice in the Attic
B1. Listen To Me, Now!
B2. 朽ちた恋 / Ochita koi / Fallen Love
B3. 恋ざんげ / Koi zange / Love Confession
B4. 憂うつな肉体 / Yu-utsu na nikutai / Melancholic Body
B5. 春の庭 / Haru no niwa / Garden of Spring

Tetsuro Kashibuchi

Drummer and vocalist for Hachimitsupai who survived its mutation into one of the most significant Japanese bands of the seventies and eighties, the Moonriders. His compositions immediately stand out for their sensitivity, sympathy, and lushly romantic sound, reminiscent of the great French chansons of the era. He remained active as Moonrider, solo artist, producer and actor until his untimely death due to esophageal cancer on December 17th, 2013.

Hotel Lilas (Canyon, 1983)

El Jaguar Del Bandoneon (Columbia, 1987)

Akiko Yano

Unlike most of the other "Naughty Girls" who ended up at Yen Records in the early eighties, Yano wasn't interested in playing surreal games with celebrity and self image (Togawa), or with recreating herself as an exotic intellectual from an idealized nowhere (Ohnuki, Koshi). Instead she opted to succeed Yumi Matsutoya as an expert craftsman of cutting-edge pop epics, dazzling for their sincerity, ingenuity and scale. Thanks to her virtuosic piano and synthesizer work (often in duet with sometime husband Ryuichi Sakamoto), her  records have a grandiose quality mostly missing from the YMO universe. It's all held together by the filigree of her vocals though, a strange combination of equal parts teenager and matron. Comparisons to Kate Bush are inevitable, but Yano got there first. She continues to record and play internationally.


El Jaguar Del Bandoneon (Columbia, 1987)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

SPY - SPY (Invitation, 1980)

Released: 1980

SPY's one-off, semi-synthpop new wave gem is about the closest thing you'll get to a lost Plastics record, from the jumpy, jittery sound to the Tashlin-esque band visuals. Here are thirteen wry, winsome anthems of a candy-colored consumer culture run amok. Producer Kazuhiko Kato polishes the erratic but uncluttered songs till they glow like brand-new tube TVs, and adds plenty of whimsical touches like the flurry of shutters on "Camera Club". "Lazy Secretary" is the second best amanuensis anthem of 1980. Sarcastic, satirical toy pop for a strange new world.

A1. Hello Mr. SPY
A2. ファーストクラス・ハネムーン / Fāsuto Kurasu Hanēmoon / First Class Honeymoon
A3. 女王陛下のチェスゲーム / Jou-ou Heika no Chesu Gēmu / Her Majesty's Chess Game
A4. ピンホール・ドリーム / Pinbōru Dorīmu / Pinball Dream
A5. ドミトリー・ボーイズ / Domitorii Bōizu / Dormitory Boys
A6. セラピー・チャイルド / Serapii Chairudo / Therapy Child
A7. Bye Bye Birdie
B1. カメラ・クラブ / Kamera Kurabu / Camera Club
B2. 太陽とマヌカン / Taiyou tō Manukan / Sun and Mannequin
B3. レイジー・セクレタリー / Reijī Sekuretarii / Lazy Secretary
B4. バブルガム・ボーイ/ Baburugamu Bōi / Bubblegum Boy
B5. 盗まれたレプリカ / Nusumareta Repurika / Stolen Replica
B6. Good bye SPY


  • MEMBERS: Yoshinori Toda, Hiroshi Nagata, Kenji Iwakura, Tohru Okada, Nanako Satoh

New wavers with synthesized trimmings who released one album in 1980. Tohru Okada of the Moonriders acts as keyboardist, and his work here is characteristically lively. Kittenish singer Nanako Satoh went on to a successful solo career, and guitarist Kenji Iwakura can be heard on several of Yukihiro Takahashi's mid-eighties albums.


SPY (Invitation, 1980)