ARTIST: YASUAKI SHIMIZU
LABEL (YEAR): BETTER DAYS (1982)
FOR FANS OF: GOGO PENGUIN, DAWN OF MIDI, TALKING HEADS
Words by Lexy Morvaridi
Not often do I discover a record that I then put on repeat four times through after the first listen. 1982’s Kakashi, by experimental saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu, is one of those albums.
Opening track ‘Suiren’ is a funky no-wave inspired pop song, decorated with infectious lead sax and vocals that are so upbeat if it doesn’t make you smile I can only assume you’re a Death Eater. While on the other end of the record, album-closer ‘Utsukushiki Tennen’ recalls dubby Ethiopian jazz with cryptic Middle Eastern vocals - ending this eclectic record on a high.
The sheer diversity of this record is what makes it so bloody great. We’re taken from dub inspired jazz and electronic percussion to minimalist experimental instrumentals with ominous organs and delicate piano. The manner in which Yasuaki plays sax throughout is both refreshing and strange, often using his instrument percussively and in combination with the synth lines. Trippy breaks and electronic beats make the whole thing sound like it could have been written and released today.
This is an album that challenges the listener without putting them off by being too out there. Plug in and listen (more than once) to this hidden Japanese gem.