Archive for the ‘Hajime Tachibana’ Category

Unfortunately Named Japanese Bands and Bambi Remixes

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Lots of updates and news to get out of the way first!

Firstly, I was offered to be interviewed on a Japanese TV show and talk about my love of Japanese record stores and Japanese music! How exciting, right?

Well, I turned them down. Go to my other blog to find out why. Spoiler: it sucks.

Also, I’ve had a few comments recently both here and on Twitter regarding my health, as I complain about that a lot. Figured I should mention that a bit and say that, thankfully, I’m starting to feel moderately human once more. I had a bad combination of some kind of lung infection, a major fibromyalgia flare-up, and aggravated herniated disc. All of these problems are beginning to subside and I’m starting to feel like my old self again, slowly but surely. Of course, I’m sure I’ll catch the flu that everyone in Tokyo seems to have at the moment, but until then, I feel super(ish), thanks for asking.

Colored Music
Colored Music
A few months ago picked up the compilation More Better Days, which collects some of the highlights that could be found on the Better Days label. I’ve heard Better Days described as an “avant pop” label, which I guess is good enough. They were very jazzy, but understand that Japanese jazz (especially from the 80s) was a bit more on the wild side than you’d probably guess. Don’t forget that the entire Japanese synthpop scene was born out of the jazz scene of the late-70s! So when I say that the music on More Better Days has a jazz feel to it, understand that it also travels into punk, new wave, ambient, electronic and pop territories, sometimes all on the same song.

Anyways, More Better Days is like 90% bangers, and is 100% worth you time to pick up. Be warned though, that it may set you down a rabbit hole of hard-to-find and exceptionally out-of-print obscure Japanese music that’ll cost you an arm and a leg.

Example: Colored Music, who have two tracks featured on that LP. Their music is damn hard to describe. The track I’m sharing tonight reminds me heavily of Talking Heads or Material, new wave with a disco groove you can dance to. But its off-kilter in a way that neither of those bands ever were. Like, the breakdown halfway through is odd enough, but the way that segues into a Fripp-eqsue feedback-laden solo? What the hell is that? This shit is dope as fuck. Thankfully CD copies of Colored Music aren’t impossible to come by. You can find it online for about $40 or $50 new. That sounds like a lot, but CDs retail for nearly $30 in Japan, so you’re not really paying all that much of a mark-up when you think about it.

Anyways, however you want to get it, get it. I won’t judge you. This shit needs to be heard by more people.

Hajime Tachibana
Bambi (Fashion Photograph Mix)
Bonus Bambi Groove
XP (I Love You Mix)
Bonus Whistle Groove
I had no idea that Tachibana went full electronic house in the early-90s, even going as far as to collaborate with Towa Tei for a few tracks. These are from the 12″ single to “Bambi,” the title track from the 1991 album of the same name. These don’t sound like the Tachibana songs I know. They’re decidedly less insane and have things like a recognizable song structure and melody, but they’re groovy as hell. They really feel more like Towa Tei tracks, to be honest. And that’s not really a bad thing let’s be real here.

Yen Memorial Album

Thursday, July 24th, 2014


I’ve written about Yen Records before, but in case you’re just joining us for the first time – Yen Records was a sub-label of Alfa Records, launched in the early-80s by Japanese electronic superstars Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO).

The label pretty much became a clearinghouse for YMO to release music by their friends and colleagues. YMO members Yukihiro Takahashi and Haruomi Hosono often performed on many Yen releases, as did Ryuichi Sakamoto, albiet to a lesser extent.

In 1984, Yen Records founder Kunihiko Murai passed away, and this record is a tribute to him – featuring many exclusive tracks and remixes by a wide variety of Yen artists. It’s a great record, and an excellent summary of the Yen label. I hope you like it.

Yen Artists
God Be With Us Till We Meet Again
Platonic Stochastic
I don’t know who the “Yen Artists” are, but if the rest of this album’s tracklisting is any indication, I suspect that these tracks include all three members of YMO, Tachibana, Koji Ueno and Jun Togawa, among others. The first track is, I think, an adaptation of an old hymn, and it was written by Yukihiro Takahashi and Haruomi Hosono. The second is a very unusual, almost musique conrete, composition that was written by Ueno.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Rydeen (Remix Version)
I own 27 different versions of “Rydeen,” so I’m fairly confident in saying that this remixed version is exclusive to this album. It’s not all that different than the original cut, it actually comes off more like a single edit with some really random sound effects thrown in, but goddamn if it isn’t a great piece of synthpop.

Hajime Tachibana
Rock (New Recording)
Previous Tachibana I unearthed featured him sounding like Art Of Noise. This has him sounding like Art of Noise meets 80s-electro era Herbie Hancock. Robot vocals! Sweet keyboard riffs! Sequencers! Loving every minute of this.

I bet Daft Punk have this track on vinyl.

Sandii & The Sunsetz
Sticky Music (Remix French Version)
I posted some Sandii stuff a few months back. I’ll probably be deleting those links in a day or so. So if you’re interested in them, check that post out.

Sandii is fucking great though and I love her. So expect more Sandii on Lost Turntable in the near future.

Maronie Dokuhon (Remix Version)
Guernica is Kenji Ueno and Jun Togawa. Seperately they released classical piano music, synthpop, prog rock and damn near everyting in between. Combined they sound like some bizarre fusion of opera, cabaret and YMO backing tracks. Like Klaus Nomi? You’ll probably like this.

Miharu Koshi
Petit Paradis (English Version)
One of the many idol-type singers who Haruomi collaborated with during the Yen years. I don’t know how popular she was during her peak, but she’s continued to be incredibly prolific, sometimes going through periods of releasing albums on a near annual basis. This is a cute song, very typical of the kind of stuff that Hosono was releasing with other artists at the time.

Inoyama Land
Pokala (Remix Version)
Inoyama Land were a duo comprised of Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita. In 1983 they put out their first album, Danzindan-Pojidon, on Yen Records. It’s a pretty great collection of ambient electronica, and if you dig Tangerine Dream, Diskjokke or The Orb, I think you might like it. It’s never been released on CD outside of the super-pricey Yen Box though, so it’s probably a bit hard to find. I’ll probably put it up here someday.

The group also has two other releases, both coming out years later in the late 90s. I think at least one is a compilation of unreleased material. Outside of Inoyama Land both Yamashita and Inoue were members of a group called Hikashu, one of the only Japanese synth-pop acts from the era who don’t seem to have any YMO connections.

Keiichi Ohta
Seean No Kodomoichiba (Remix Version)
This man only released one album, the utterly strange collaborative effort with no English title that is based on an obscure Japanese novel. This track is a remix of a song from that album, and features operatic vocals by Makito Hayashi, who never released anything on her own. The track was written by Keiichi, but was produced by Hosono and Takahashi, and features keys by Koji Ueno, practically making this a YMO track.

Koji Ueno
Adagietto (Remix Version)
Ueno is on so many tracks on this record that it’s nearly an Ueno LP. All this Ueno has left me wanting to know more about him, so I went digging on Discogs. Apparently this man is (or at least was) a goto studio player in Japan, and has appeared on dozens of albums, including many from YMO members and associates. From what I can gather, he’s an accomplished pianist, violinist and bass player – but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s an accomplished marimba, saxophone and flutist as well. Dude seems like the type.

This is a very mellow piece, unlike just about anything else on the album – classical almost. Very relaxing.

Yukihiro Takahashi
It’s Gonna Work Out (Remix Version)
This is a remixed version of a track that appears in its original version on Takahashi’s 1982 album What, Me Worry? Like pretty much all things Takahashi-related from the 80s, it’s pure gold. The more of Takahashi’s solo stuff I hear, the more I think he was the most talented pop musician in YMO. Sure Hosono and Sakamoto may be more technically gifted and diverse than Takahashi, but I’ve never heard pop music by either that’s as good as some of the stuff on Takahashi’s solo records. The man is incredible.

Super Eccentric Theater
Beat The Rap (Remix Version)
Super Eccentric Theater (Or S.E.T.) was a comedy troupe that was on Yen Records. I think I can hear Yukihiro on this track in the chorus.

This is their send-up of rap music.

It’s not funny.

Modern Living (Remix Version)
Testpattern released one album, 1982’s Apres-Midi, which I snagged a while back. I love it, even if they do sound a bit like YMO also-rans with a more mellow, easy-listening sound. This is a remixed version of a track from that album, and it’s better than the album version thanks to some nice added synths.

Jun Togawa
Do Not Renai (New Recording)
The singer of Guernica strikes again, this time with a nice synthpop ballad. This sounds like early Kate Bush. So those with a low tolerance for squeaky vocals may want to proceed with caution.

Hawks (Remix Version)
Interior put out a couple of records in the early 80s. I have one, and to be honest it’s nothing to write home about. Their instrumental tracks were okay, but whenever they tried to add vocals to the mix they just sounded bland and boring. This is an okay song, but nothing really memorable either.

Tamao Koeike
Kagami No Naka No Jugatsu (Remix Version)
The name may read Tamao Koeike in the LINER notes, but this is a YMO track. They wrote it, and they perform all the instrumentation on it. Koeike is just the singer. And she apparently didn’t really impress anyone at Yen Records, as the single for this track was the only thing she ever released. A shame, as it’s not a bad tune and she has a nice voice.

Haruomi Hosono
Yunemiru Yakusoko (Original Version)
Typical Hosono stuff from the 80s – meaning that it’s really damn good.

Random Selection of Japanese Music

Monday, April 7th, 2014

I wrote a thing about how I was sick for a fucking month. Read that then listen to these rad tunes that I picked up at some local record stores. Or don’t read it and listen to the music. Or read  it and don’t listen to the music. Or don’t read it and don’t listen to the music, turn off your computer and go experience the “real world.”

Fuck it, it’s your life. I can’t tell you what to do.

Hajime Tachibana
Chicken Consommé
One day I’m  just going to cave and post a whole Tachibana album. Until then, here’s another standout track from the manically eclectic artist, this one from his 1985 album Taiyo Sun, which is probably my favorite record of his after Mister Techie & Miss Kipple (although, let’s be honest, that album has a much better name).

Yukihiro Takahashi
My Bright Tomorrow
As I mentioned before, Yukihiro Takahashi is the lead singer of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and one of my favorite musicians on the planet. His 1983 release, Tomorrow’s Just Another Day, isn’t one of my favorites by him (a bit too slow for my tastes) but this song from that album might be one of my favorites. It’s such a wonderfully, beautifully sad song. An amazing ode to wanting for things to be better, hoping for a change while slowly and sadly realizing that it may never come. It’s a heartbreaking but gorgeous tune.

Towa Tei
Sometimes Samurai
Japanese electronic pop + Kylie Minogue = my jam.

Towa Tei was in Deee-Lite in case you’re a fan of gay club music from the 1990s and you’re wondering where you’ve heard that name before.

My irresponsible spending, your gain.

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Japanese synth-pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra were a pretty big deal in Japan throughout much of the 80s. They were such a big deal that they were able to form their own vanity label called Yen records in the early 80s, one they kept going well into the 90s (I actually talk about Yen a bit on the episode of Retronauts that I guested on last year, if you’re interested).

Many of the best albums that Yen put out remain out of print, making them sought after collectibles on both sides of the Pacific. Of those, none are more in demand than the Yen Boxes, two massive CD box sets that collected many of the rarest and hardest-to-find albums in the Yen catalog, as well as several tracks that were never released commercially at all. When one shows up in a used record store, it can go for insane prices.

I would know. I bought one last week.

Sigh, okay…I’m not going to tell you all how much I paid for it. Let’s just say I paid a lot, okay?

Look, don’t you fucking judge me.

Besides, if I hand’t have bought it, then you wouldn’t get a chance to hear these awesome and awesomely-rare Japanese synthpop cuts tonight, now would you?

Hajime Tachibana
Theme From Barricade (Another Version)
Replicant J.B. (Remix Edit Version)
Hajime Tachibana was the guitarist for a Japanese new wave act called The Plastics. They only put out three records during their short lifespan in the late-70s/early-80s, but they were pretty interesting. I might do something on them some other time. Right now though I want to focus on Tachibana though, because this motherfucker is goddamn crazy.

Even before The Plastics broke up, Tachibana was branching out. In 1980 he guested on YMO vocalist Yukihiro Takahashi’s excellent 1980 album Murdered By The Music, playing guitar on one track. I assume its from there that he got in with the YMO crew, who signed him to Yen Records in 1982 for the release of his first album, H.

H…is a jazz record. I mean, yeah, it’s a jazz record with some interesting electronic elements and some experimental diversions here and there, but from what I can tell it’s a jazz record. And as I don’t like jazz, I’m not a fan.

The following year Tachibana followed up H with Hm, which largely abandons jazz for insane avant-garde minimalist experimentalism ala Philip Glass. It’s CRAZY, but damn if it isn’t some complicated listening. This is not one I take with me for my morning commute.

The year after that Tachibana returned with yet another solo record, the amazingly titled Mr. Techie and Miss Kipple.


My guess is that sometime in 1983 someone gave Tachibana an Art of Noise album, because that’s exactly what this LP sounds like. It’s crazy. It’s insane. It’s awesome.

The Art of Noise’s largely instrumental new wave/post-punk/ambient/industrial sound was very rarely imitated during the 80s, so to hear anyone give it a go  shocks the hell out of me. And to hear anyone do it as great as Tachibana pulled it off is blowing my fucking mind. This is literally all I’m listening to right now. It’s kicking my ass in so many ways. This is my new shit.

These remixes are taken from the “Male” bonus disc of the Yen Box. I’ll be posting more of his stuff in the future though, don’t worry.

Idol Era
Drip Dry Eyes
Sandii is a Japanese/American singer who released a couple of albums in the 70s to little fanfare in both the states and Japan. But apparently YMO were fans, as they recruited her for the Yen label in the early 80s. Her 1980 record Eating Pleasure is pretty much a YMO record. She sings on it, but more than half the songs were written by either Hosono or Takahashi from YMO, and almost all of the lyrics were written by YMO’s English songwriter Chris Mosdell. And all three members of YMO, including Sakamoto, play on every song on the album. She even covers Takahashi’s hit “Drip Dry Eyes.” Great shit. Once again, I’ll be posting more of her stuff in the future.

I only have two of her albums, but they’re both fucking fantastic and I desperately want more. Goddamn, Japan is going to be expensive.