Oct 16, 2016

Sundaze 1642


Today's artist is a prolific, prodigiously talented artist, he was responsible for over thirty albums between 1993 and 2012, exploring the worlds of acid techno, trance, ambient, downtempo and beyond. His music was always completely individual, always esoteric yet never wilfully indulgent. His touch was that of a master craftsman, creating intricate musical jewels that sparkled like no others.... N'Joy

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Susumu Yokota emerged in the early '90s as one of the most versatile and prolific electronic producers going. In his native Japan, he was known for many years as a top-tier dance music talent, specializing in all varieties of house while dabbling in techno, electro, and trance for the Sublime, Harthouse, and Planet Earth labels. Alternate aliases for his dance releases included Ringo, Prism, and Sonicstuff. While his dancefloor tracks were funky and playful with a heavy debt to epic disco -- he even covered Idris Muhammad's underground disco classic "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This" -- Yokota's ambient work unfolds with the patience of a butoh dance, all small gestures and gradually shifting layers of quiet sound. He gained international stature with home listeners and critics with the release of a series of well-received ambient albums on the U.K. label Leaf, beginning in 1998 with Magic Thread, and following with Image: 1983-1998 (1999), Sakura (2000), Grinning Cat (2001), and The Boy and the Tree (2002). (Some of these releases originally appeared in small runs on Yokota's Skintone label.) Releases for Lo Recordings followed, including the Rothko collaboration Distant Sounds of Summer (2005), Wonder Waltz (2006), Love or Die (2007), and Mother (2009). Also an accomplished DJ, Yokota leant his mixing skills to the 2001 label retrospective Leaf Compilation. His most recent album was 2012’s Dreamer, released on Lo Recordings.

Yokota’s family released a statement:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Susumu Yokota who passed away on 27th March, 2015 at the age of 54 after a long period of medical treatment.

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Susumu Yokota has always created readily accessible work; chipper melodies and predictable rhthyms weave their way along to natural conclusions with little unexpected happening inbetween: perfect techno pop music. On Cat, Mouse And Me he does this but to a wonderfully stunning conclusion - instead of disposable music, this album is filled with a deep warmth and depth served via repetition. The looped melodies are here, but have a melancholy edge. The rhythms don't excite, but lull you into a head-nodding trance. None of the tracks are particularly "difficult" listening, rather all are almost as immediately engaging as they are durable.

Susumo Yokota - Cat, Mouse And Me  (flac  333mb)

01 Good Morning 2:50
02 Neutral 5:10
03 Field 5:50
04 River Side 5:20
05 Wait For A Day 5:00
06 One Way 5:00
07 Lemon And Ginger 5:20
08 Ceramic Flower 5:40
09 Cat, Mouse And Me 5:00
10 From 6:30
11 Middle Finger 5:20
12 Few 4:20
13 In The Sky 5:40
14 Dodo 4:50

Susumo Yokota - Cat, Mouse And Me    (ogg  148mb)

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Magic Thread is a charming exploration in sound sculpture, lilting melodies, softly shifting bass, echoing voices and all manner of means of exotic instruments makes this into a gorgeous album full of gentle ambience and subtle sounds. Yokota casually trims the edges of his samples, and apparently doesn't lose sleep over looped bursts of tape hiss that would make most audio engineers wince. While initially appearing careless, these touches are ultimately revealed as intrinsic components of his invitingly unpretentious style. On this disc, vinyl crackle (sampled as rhythm) and wheezing tape loops take an already offhand artist into realms that are positively lo-fi. Although most of Yokota's work is loop-based, "Magic Thread" is particularly repetitive. That said, those charmed by the quirky exotica of his later albums may find the landscape a wee bit barren.

Susumu Yokota - Magic Thread  (flac  231mb)

01 Weave 5:05
02 Reflux 6:15
03 Unravel 2:45
04 Circular 5:45
05 Spool 6:47
06 Potential 6:28
07 Fiber 2:08
08 Metabolic 6:34
09 Stitch 4:17
10 Blend 5:39
11 Melt 4:07

Susumu Yokota - Magic Thread    (ogg 120mb)

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Multi-talented producer Susumu Yokota returns to the ambient realm with the beautiful and diverse Sakura. When he indulges his fondness for pop hooks with his dancefloor material, Yokota's melodic choices are glossy and extroverted, but his music for home listening is focused, controlled, and deeply internal. His knack for blending traditional instruments like guitar and piano with simple electronics harks back to ambient music's birth in the mid-'70s; at times Sakura recalls the work of pioneers like Brian Eno, Cluster, and Manuel Göttsching. The icy "Saku" sets the meditative tone on Sakura, with gentle, winding guitar lines, relaxed synthesizer oscillations, and plenty of breathing space for the minimal instrumentation. Beats make their first appearance on "Uchiu Tanjyo," as smooth, semi-tribal hand drums blend organically with the repeating keyboard figures. "Genshi" adds house drum programming to the brew, and Yokota's knack for reflective electronic melody on the track rivals the best of Kraftwerk. Both "Azukiior No Kaori" and "Kodomotachi" use vocal samples to haunting effect, bringing to mind the favored techniques of Nobukazu Takemura without direct reference to machine glitches. The flow is marred by a misplaced jazz cutup ("Naminote"), but Sakura possesses an austere beauty and should not be overlooked.

Susumu Yokota - Sakura  (flac  250mb)

01 Saku 5:45
02 Tobiume 4:38
03 Uchu Tanjyo 3:13
04 Hagoromo 3:52
05 Genshi 4:57
06 Gekkoh 4:59
07 Hisen 3:48
08 Azukiiro No Kaori 2:39
09 Kodomotachi 4:06
10 Naminote 5:43
11 Shinsen 4:33
12 Kirakiraboshi 1:55

Susumu Yokota - Sakura   (ogg  100mb)

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Possibly the most unique item within Susumu Yokota's highly idiosyncratic oeuvre, Symbol finds the multifaceted Japanese electronica master defying and muddying genre distinctions to create sui generis compositions of considerable beauty and strangeness. That's not exactly new territory for Yokota, but this time there's a gimmick: the album is consists primarily of fragments taken from classical pieces, many of them highly familiar, if not always readily identifiable, by the likes of Debussy, Rachmaninov, and Beethoven -- with a particular reliance on Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" and Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals" -- as well as bits of more recent works by John Cage and Meredith Monk, whose unearthly voice becomes a focal point for several of these tracks. But while Yokota cuts, pastes, and plunders the world of art music with a palpable exuberance akin to the mash-up artists, his contemporaries, who were doing similar things with pop, the results are more nuanced than merely novel. Nor is it entirely out of step with his previous work -- it's not as serenely ambient as the beloved Sakura (though it is generally quite soothing), and it certainly has little to do with his various dance-oriented releases, but it retains the meticulous, multilayered compositional approach of albums like Grinning Cat and The Boy & the Tree. And although the presence of electronics is kept relatively understated, the elements with which Yokota weaves together his mad grab-bag of orchestral motifs, frolicsome fragments of flute and piano, and stately string passages (there are sometimes as many as seven classical samples in a single four-minute piece) will be immediately familiar to his listeners: subtly burbling beats, wordless ethereal vocals, vaguely Asian-sounding percussion loops (as well as a marimba ostinato that could pass for a Steve Reich sample). Indeed, without the obviously recognizable nature of his sample sources (which, depending on your perspective, could be a source of distraction or a point of engagement), it would be difficult to distinguish many of these pieces from "standard" Yokota compositions -- a feat which is in itself quite an accomplishment. That it's also a fascinating and rewarding listen, and an undeniably gorgeous bit of craftsmanship, arguably elevates Symbol to near the level of its inspirations, or at least positions it as a curious bridge between too-often estranged musical worlds.

Susumu Yokota - Symbol  (flac  247mb)

01 Long Long Silk Bridge 3:00
02 Purple Rose Minuet 3:34
03 Traveler In The Wonderland 4:20
04 Song Of The Sleeping Forest 4:16
05 The Plateau Which The Zephyr Of Flora Occupies 2:25
06 Fairy Dance Of Twinkle And Shadow 4:17
07 Flaming Love And Destiny 4:54
08 The Dying Black Swan 2:21
09 Blue Sky And Yellow Sunflower 3:56
10 Capriccio And The Innovative Composer 2:23
11 I Close The Door Upon Myself 2:24
12 Symbol Of Life, Love, And Aesthetics 3:53
13 Music From The Lake Surface 3:12

Susumu Yokota - Symbol    (ogg  100mb)

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1 comment:

Paul C said...

Many thanks for Sakura Rho.