night

If anyone knows me, they’d know this album forms a perfect storm of what I dig about music. I love it when someone actually aims to “sell out” by doing it in such a way that everyone is left dumbfounded by the product of that intended vision. There is one “right” way to pull that of course, and that’s where some hidden gems are always found. What is that right way, you ask? The answer can be found in Joachim Witt’s Moonlight Nights, a perfect je ne sais quo of German electro-pop that goes beyond anything you’d expect to hear then. Surprisingly tropical. Surprisingly experimental and “German”, it’s one of my all-time favorite summer albums for reasons I’ll never quite be able to place.

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Triangulus_EX_EX

Hard to describe what’s going on in Triangulus and Björn J:son Lindh. The closest analog I could think of would be what would happen if the Alan Parson’s Project relocated to the island of Majorca and replaced their members with Swedish electro-acoustic minimalists. Imagine a very math-y (complex, musical time signatures galore) version of Balearic music that’s as interested in taking you on a tropical journey as it is into not completely shaking off its progressive Scandinavian experimental heritage. Because that’s basically what it is. A mix of Triangulus’ minimal prog style with the late Björn J:son Lindh’s ambient flute-driven jazz-fusion creating a not so distant kin of Coste Apetrea‘s similar, ruminative ideas.

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greenwater

I so had another post in mind for today, but Kunio Muramatsu’s Green Water spoke to me and said: “hold that powder for some other day, the sun’s still shining!”. From the first song on it’s not hard to see why. A flooring collection of meticulously crafted Pop songs screaming “SUMMER!” merit, at least this time of the year, someone to properly scope and dig them out. There, on the front cover, you see hints at what’s in store. Kunio list some of his favorite people. Instantly this is what pops out: “Todd Rundgren and John Lennon”.

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katsutoshi

There’s an appeal to Katsutoshi Morizono’s 4:17 p.m. that can only be heightened, or fully appreciated, during summer, our current time of the year. Cycling from truly elegant compositions – a frequent, recurring theme lately on the blog – 4:17 p.m. mixes jazz fusion, post-bossanova, reggae, light mellow/City Pop, and even experimental bits of New Age and minimalism into a very summery, quite Balearic, laid-back vibe. At the end of the day, 4:17 p.m. was Katsutoshi’s swan song to powerful, lightweight music that ages better with time. That’s something that has always been a goal of mine, to make it easier to understand just how powerful “light” music can be. Now I can appreciate how if you put something on, just like 4:17 p.m., one can see that Katsutoshi makes this case much better than any of my words will what stepping into summer really feels like.

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These are the things that surprise sometimes. I went into researching some background story behind Hajime Mizoguchi’s deeply affecting Halfinch Dessert and wound up uncovering that their is some meaning behind this album. Hajime Mizoguchi was born and raised in Tokyo. By the age of eleven he had chosen to educate himself in the ways of the cello. A career that began once he graduated from the prestigious music department of the Tokyo University of Arts led to his talents being put to to use by many as a studio musician.

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amour

I almost hate myself for sharing this. It’s like eating a slice of sublime dark chocolate cake, followed by a full spread of some fine charcuterie, chased with some sumptuous Riesling. Obviously, it’s too rich and not entirely good for you…but man is it refined and tasty when you’re devouring it. That’s exactly the feelings I get when I listen to Alain Chamfort and Wally Badarou’s masterwork of elegant post-disco: Amour, Année Zéro. Something this rich can’t be hoarded though. That’s why it’s here, right? We’re spreading the decadence around – at least that’s my excuse.

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notes

What’s with Japanese session bass players? Yoshio Suzuki, Tsugutoshi Goto, Hirobumi Suzuki, etc. and now Motohiko Hamase, all at one point or another decide to show the world that they can do more than lay down a tasty bass line. #Notes of Forestry shows exactly how fascinating their own ideas can be when they’re given their own limelight. A mix of golden-era ECM fretless bass jazz (Motohiko’s tone reminding me much of Eberhard Weber’s), American Steve Reich-ian New Age, and Japanese electronic minimalism, #Notes of Forestry still sounds genuinely surprising, in quite a timeless way.

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ritmia

Nothing makes one cringe more than when someone tries to “modernize” traditional music. The issue isn’t with modernization but with trying to will it so that “traditional” music has no way of becoming modern other than by adding modernity to it. What does this all mean? It means that the jaw-dropping music of Italian quartet Ritmia wouldn’t have all the power and twice the timelessness it would, if it tried to modernize Sardinian music by adding some drum beats, wacky sonic effects, and techno samples, calling it a day. That’s not how Riccardo Tesi, Alberto Talia, Daniel Craighead, and Enrico Frongia roll. They modernize it by taking all that’s traditional and transforming their sources into a vital, new timeless musical thing.

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/ July 21, 2017 / Comments Off on Mike Francis: Let’s Not Talk About It (1984)

Mike Francis: Let’s Not Talk About It (1984)

mikefrancis

Now this, this right here, is the promised boogie wonderland. The late Michele Francesco Puccioni’s (aka Mike Francis) 1984 debut is that unheralded statement piece of funk and R&B music that once you have your chance to get your hands on you’ll never forget. Let’s Not Talk About It was the product of some hard-earned dedication by a young Fiorentino who took it upon himself to turn some glaring weaknesses (his vocals and place of birth) and turn them into truly undeniable strengths.

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kenjiii

Power can manifest itself in many ways. Power isn’t always in the density of something but in the lightness of it. Kenji Omura’s spirited take on funk, sophisticated pop, and so many other smooth genres comes together into one powerful album: Gaijin Heaven. The late, great Kenji Omura, one time or some time YMO guitarist, draws from his background in jazz to create a delectable mix of styles cropping up in Japan in the early ’80s influenced by the sophisticated American urban music being created at that time. What you’ll hear in Gaijin Heaven are ultra-funky groovers slotting alongside ingenious soul covers. What you also get are his own chrome-plated sophisti-pop wonders that help it rise among nameless West Coast-influenced Japanese artists. Huge tinges of Roxy Music’s work in Avalon make Gaijin Heaven a not so distant cousin of it, with its different sort of sublimity in its own expertly polished luster. Perfect for the summer, Gaijin Heaven seems to have been made to soundtrack a gorgeous day outside your friendly confines.

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