Flaming Japanese Astronaut Funk

Like most people, when I first started buying records I would occasionally buy some just because they were cheap and the covers were crazy or outrageous. That’s why I own this. And this. But that’s a habit that you have to grow out of quickly, or you’ll find your record shelves full of bad 80s hair metal and obscure 70s cheese. I think the last time I bought a record solely because of the cover was probably close to a decade ago.

Then I found this.

Space Circus – Fantastic Arrival

Something about this cover just got to me, and since it was only four or so bucks I figured “why the hell not?” And while the album certainly hasn’t set my world ablaze like an unfortunate astronaut, I’ve been enjoying it.

Disclaimer: this is kind of a jazz fusion record. I have been on the record (many times over) as not being a fan of jazz fusion. That’s still a rule I try to live by. I feel that this is an exception. Not exceptional, the record isn’t that good, but it’s different enough from most of the jazz fusion I’ve heard that it stands out at least a little bit.

Firstly, the dudes playing on this record are clearly virtuoso musicians who know what the hell they are doing. There’s a lot of wankery and showmanship on this record, and it makes for an impressive listen. The bass really sticks out to me. It has a groove that makes the album almost a funk record at times. Sure, no one is going to mistake a track like “Demon Blast” for George Clinton or Prince, but it moves, and slides from one solo to another so naturally, never losing the backing beat or theme, thanks largely to that radical bass.

Secondly, for most of this album, things are kept at a fairly breakneck pace, and when they do slow down, its in favor of the keyboards and/or synthesizers. That might not be a direction that most people enjoy, but anyone whose visited my blog more than once know that’s something that’s always going to earn the attention of my ear. “Acryl Dream” sounds someone laid a funk beat over a Vangelis score. I dig it.

Finally, it’s just really stupid and fun. And I was in the hospital this week, give me a break.

I did a smidge of digging as to who Space Circus are/were. They’re long gone as a group, having only released two albums in the late seventies before calling it quits. However, a few of them continued to release music after parting ways. While both the percussionist and guitar player only seem to have this group to their name, the bass player, Hajime Okano, has a hella long discography. He’s even made his way to a few albums I own, occasionally working with artists like Jun Togawa and Koshi Miharu, two of my favorite Japanese singers, who I really suggest you check out.

Takashi Toyoda is credited as a guest musician on this release, and contributes keyboards and violin. Turns out he makes appearances on a few other records in my collection, including some synthesizer anime albums and a great record by another 80s Japanese singer who goes by Rajie. Yukihiro Takashi from YMO and touring YMO members Kenji Omura and Akiko Yano also appear on that record, it’s worth picking up if you ever somehow stumble across it.

So yeah. It’s silly, and to be honest kind of forgettable. But it’s fun. And you might find a few good grooves to enjoy. Hope you enjoy.

One Response to “Flaming Japanese Astronaut Funk”

  1. Andrew says:

    I love it. Thank you!

Leave a Reply