French-Oriental Female Ep (2014)

ann sorel cópiaThis Ep is an attempt to present some artists who will enter soon in our galaxy, today will address exclusively two countries: France and Japan. Great arrangers, actresses singers, side B, and even famous ones, (feel free to) leave us a comment and enjoy!

France

1968

Brigitte Fontaine – Je Suis Inadaptée / Est… Folle, 1968 (arr. Jean Claude Vannier)

June 24, 1939 / The diva of French underground music.

Brigitte Fontaine made a series of increasingly strange and eclectic art-pop in the ’70s that gathered a lot of acclaim in France, although she remains obscure to an international audience. Initially, she was an eccentric but accessible pop singer, presenting melodic and orchestrated material, working with (living legend) arranger Jean Claude Vannier; on subsequent records, she got jazzier, and then into avant-gardism and art song, her albums were commendably wide-ranging and erratic.

With an active career and 2013 last release, albums like Est…Folle, Barbara’s Madame, and even less known Jean Constantin’s Le Poulpe, are some of the wonderful panoramas that Vannier conducted throughout the ’70s.

A dreamy arrangement, with delicacy, strong pace and multiple colors!

nicoletta 2 cópia

Nicoletta & Zoo – Dieu Est Negre / Visage, 1970 (arr. Zoo)

April 11, 1944 / Nicole Chappuis-Grisoni

She was considered as part of what is known as the French yé-yé generation heavily influenced by American music, particularly R&B, rock and roll and beat music, mostly known for her version of ‘Mamy Blue’ with her very specific, bluesy voice, she certainly gained a special place in French pop music, with many radio and television appearances, where she had a number of hits in the ’60s and the ’70s.

Her material after the ’70s is somewhat dubious, with that sugar chanson feel, returning to top form from mid-’90s and recently launched Ici Et Ailleurs.

Honestly, these recordings with Zoo are certainly Nicoletta’s best moment, a passionate diva interpretation with an incredible escort by these guys, check it!

ann sorel 2 cópia

Ann Sorel – L’Amour à Plusieurs / Single, 1972 (arr. Jean Claude Vannier)

Ann-Chantal Sorel, 71 years (more info ?). She released a few pairs of singles during the ’60s and ’70s, early on yé-yé and then, precious moments like this magistral one under Vannier’s tutelage. Banned (!) on radio, with a scandalous lyrics from Fréderic Botton, Ann’s sexy voice guides us through an unusual encounter.

Wrapped in a simple deep red cover, this is a fantastic erotica re-discover!

Japan

chinatsu cópia

Chinatsu Nakayama (中山千夏) – 砂漠 (Desert) / Single, 1971

July 13, 1948 / Actress Singer

Former wonder actress, TV personalitysinger and later established writer. She released a few singles during the ’70s and stopped its singer career in early ’00s, to fully devote herself as a writer, human rightscivil and feminist activist.

A B side soul-psych bomb with tons of brass, fuzz and nicely chorus!

rumi koyama 3 cópia

Rumi Koyama (小山ルミ) – 恋人の記念日 / Sasurai No Guitar, 1971

August 11, 1952 / Actress Singer

Another famous actress and Tv star, Rumi released a bit more singles and albums through the ’70s. A swinging one, with western brass, percussion, mellow strings and that Tarantino’s Kill Bill homage. Like Meiko Kaji tunes, expect some more entrances from Rumi Koyama, too, she sings with grace and got a real nice 1971 Lp!

rabi cópia

Rabi Nakayama (中山ラビ) – 夢のドライブ (Drive of a Dream) / Hira Hira, 1974

The one (and only) who helped Yoshiko Sai in his first years, Rabi Nakayama is probably one of the most famous singers from Japan, the female Bob Dylan often called, started its career in early ’70s with a dozen of releases, very active until 2009.

Here she catches a heavier side, with a furious backing band, this is almost a B side in Hira Hira’s album, totally folk-oriented. Even being unknown worldwide, Rabi’s career is pretty solid, with diverse moments and bands, soon she’ll enter here!

Hyvää matkaa!

Blind Woman's Curse, 1970 (Meiko Kaji)
Blind Woman’s Curse, 1970 (Meiko Kaji)

Yoshiko Sai – Mikkō (1976)

Due to the great success of Yoshiko Sai’s first entry, simply the most viewed during this year, today we present another album of this incredible haunting artist!

Let’s go to our history:

Edo (modern Tokyo) became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century Japan, the so-called Edo period (1603–1867). With an ‘everlasting’ peace and prosperity, the merchant class at the bottom of the social order found themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the city’s rapid economic growth. Other classes were the samurai and the craftsmen. Many indulged in the entertainment of kabuki theatre, courtesans, and geisha of the pleasure districts.

The term Ukiyo (floating world) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted ukiyo-e images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century, the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with such brilliant works. Depictions of beautiful women, kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica were amongst the popular themes. (!)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1844
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1844

The peak period in terms of quantity and quality was marked by portraits of beauties and actors by masters such as Kiyonaga, Utamaro, and Sharaku in the late 18th century. This peak was followed in the 19th century by a pair of masters best remembered for their landscapes: Hokusai and Hiroshige. Following the deaths of these two, and against the technological and social modernization that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868, ukiyo-e production went into steep decline.

Some ukiyo-e artists specialized in making paintings, but most works were prints. Artists rarely carved their own woodblocks for printing; rather, production was divided between the artist, who designed the prints; the carver, who cut the woodblocks; the printer, who inked and pressed the woodblocks onto hand-made paper; and the publisher, who financed, promoted, and distributed the works.

Hokusai, 1830-32
Hokusai, 1830-32

Japonisme, or Japonism, is a French term that was first used (theorized) by Jules Claretie in his book L’Art Francais in 1872, it refers to the influence of Japanese art on Western art. In 1854, Japan re-opened trade with the West (after 265 years of isolation) and Japanese artworks including fans, porcelains, woodcuts, and screens were introduced in huge numbers to Europe, mainly France and the Netherlands.

The 1862 World’s Fair in Europe brought even more attention to Japanese art, during the 1860’s ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, became very popular and were a source of inspiration to many impressionists and post-impressionist artists in the west including Monet, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. (!)

Utamaro, 1793
Utamaro, 1793

Let’s go to our album:

Released on July 25th, 1976, Mikkō was Sai Yoshiko’s second album, a wonderful acid-folk register on which she gets assisted by a string of big-name musicians such as Kuni Kawachi on arrangements. At times the disc draws in Indian influences (sitar and tabla), but once she gets to singing, the listener is lulled into her own private, mysterious sonic world, through which one gets sucked in by her wide-ranging vocalizations. At the time of this recording, she was merely 23 years old.

This is a quieter, entrained album, compared to Taiji No Yume, with less variety of styles, making a melodic somber entry. I really would like to know more details about the lyrics, will any Japanese friend could help us? This is such a stunner voyage of consciousness, welcome to the unique realms of Yoshiko Sai, be ready!

1977's Promo
1977’s Promo

The ‘IM’ highlights are Tenshi no Yōni and Mikkō.

Bonum Cursum!

Tracks Include:

A1 Theme ~ 母さまのうた (Theme ~ Kāsama no Uta)

A2 鏡地獄 (Kagami Jigoku)

A3 (Haru)

A4 絹之道 (Kinu no Michi)

B1 人のいない島 (Hito no Inai Shima)

B2 眠りのくに (Nemuri no Kuni)

B3 天使のように (Tenshi no Yōni)

B4 漂流船 (Hyōryūsen)

B5 密航 (Mikkō)

Translations, respectively:

Theme – Mother’s Song, Hell of Mirrors, Spring, Silk Road, Desert Island

Land of Sleep, Like an Angel, Ship Adrift and Stowing Away

Credits

  • Acoustic Guitar: 吉川忠英, 野間義男
  • Cello: 阿部雅士
  • Drums: 山下秀夫, 田中清司, 武田光司
  • Dulcimer: 生見慶二
  • Electric Bass: 江藤勲, 高水建司
  • Electric Guitar: 高中正義, 津村泰彦
  • Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Sitar (E. Sitar): 矢島賢
  • Flute: 中川昌三
  • Piano, Keyboards: 大谷和夫, 松岡直也
  • Strings: 新音楽協会
  • Tabla: 瀬上養之助
  • Vibraphone: クニ河内
  • Arranged: クニ河内 (Kuni Kawashi)
  • Lyrics, Music: 佐井好子 (Yoshiko Sai)
  • Engineer伊豫部富治
  • IllustrationYoshiko Sai
  • Design (Cover Design) – Teichiku Design Section
  • Directed: 春名勇

Companies

  • Made: Teichiku Records Co., Ltd.
  • Recorded: Sound Creation Studio
  • Mixed: AMS Studio

Recorded at Teichiku No.1 Studio and Sound Creation Studio.

Mixdown at AMS Studio from March to May 1976.

Black ‎– BAL-1018

JAGATARA (じゃがたら) – Hadaka No Osama (裸の王様) [1987]

edo akemi 3 cópia

It is amazing how in just one year, the amount of live footage from JAGATARA appeared on youtube, either as excerpts or full audio/video performances of this amazing band that still remains unknown to most of the Western public.

However, all this novelty occurs only in the musical field, with regard to information, interviews or photos we still rely on the detailed post made last year and seek help from Japanese readers to translate the material available on the official website!

Let’s go to our album:

After a bombastic and controversial start at the beginning of the ’80s, Edo Akemi (lead frontman, lyricist, composer) suffers a nervous breakdown during the tour and ends up in a hospital at the end of 1983. The band goes through a gap of almost three years.

In the interim, they released a live album in 1985 (君 と 踊 り あ か そ う 日 の 出 を 見 る ま で), the band’s fourth record and make occasional presentations on Japanese TV, always with medical guidance. Akemi’s recovery occurs in Shikoku.

Big Band Formation
Big Band Formation

From June 1986, a more willing and energetic Akemi returns to Tokyo and start to work with the band on new material. They return to perform live at the end of the year and begin to record Hadaka No Osama. On 21/03/1987 the fifth LP is released with positive reviews and remarkable evolution of the band.

The year 1987 is marked by memorable shows of up to four hours (!), long tours, and the launch of their third Home Video, entitled Hey! Goggle Tour!

In future entries, we will cover their other albums, now, enjoy a rare clip from one of their great successes, Tango. And appreciate what I believe be their best album!

Uhambe Kahle!

Tracks Include:

1 裸の王様

2 岬でまつわ

3 ジャンキー・ティーチャー

4 もうがまんできない

The Emperor’s New Clothes

  • Distributed: BaLcony Records – Girls-5

Doctor Records DC-1103

Tokyo Lights
Tokyo Lights

People – Ceremony ~ Buddha Meet Rock (1971)

cover

Buddhism is a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha (the awakened one). The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering (dukkha) through the elimination of ignorance (avidyā) by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) and the elimination of desire (taṇhā), and thus the attainment of the cessation of all suffering, known as the sublime state of Nirvāṇa!

Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai. In some classifications, Vajrayana, practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia (also China and Russia) is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

Let’s go to our history:

About 85 million people in Japan, accounting for 2/3 of the population, are affiliated with Buddhism in some way, often nominally 70-85% of Japanese profess no religious membership or personal religion. Most Japanese Buddhists are also similarly affiliated with Shinto, as neither of the two religions demands exclusivity.

Zen Buddhism was brought to China by the Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 6th century CE. It was called Ch’an in China. Zen’s golden age began with the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-Neng (638-713), and ended with the persecution of Buddhism in China in the middle of the 9th century CE. The great Zen masters came from this period.

Daruma
Daruma

Zen spread to Korea in the 7th century CE and to Japan in the 12th century CE. The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language. Its techniques are compatible with other faiths and are often used, for example, by Christians seeking a mystical understanding of their faith. Zen often seems paradoxical, it requires an intense discipline which, when practiced properly, results in total spontaneity and ultimate freedom. This natural spontaneity should not be confused with impulsiveness.

Buddhism’s emphasis on the Middle way not only provides a unique guideline for ethics but has also allowed Buddhism to peacefully coexist with differing beliefs, customs, and institutions in countries where it has resided throughout its history.

Laotian Monks
Laotian Monks

Also, its moral and spiritual parallels with other systems of thought, for example, with various tenets of Christianity have been subjects of close study. In addition, the Buddhist concept of dependent origination has been compared to modern scientific thought, as well as Western metaphysics. (!)

Popularised in the West by the Japanese scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870 – 1966), Zen culture is the Japanese variant of Chán, a school of Mahayana which strongly emphasizes dhyana (concentration/meditation). This gives insight into one’s true nature, which opens the way to a liberated way of living.

Byōdō-in
Byōdō-in

In Zen Buddhism, an ensō (円,相) is a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). It is characterized by a minimalism born of Japanese aesthetics.

The many different schools, such as the Zen Buddhist concepts, practices, and traditions will be left to an expert. This is just a small introduction to the subject, our today’s album has an exploitative side, but it’s the basis for one of the rare fusions between rock and religion, especially in the East!

Ensō
Ensō

Let’s go to our album:

People were formed during a short term in 1971 as a (nearly) occasional shooting star project to produce a novel by blending their rock sounds and Buddhist Shomyo (sutra). The album was led by Buddhist poet/songwriter Naoki Tachikawa and was organized by Teichiku Records‘ A&R director Hideki Sakamoto.

All the members were renowned and talented Japanese session musicians: Kimio Mizutani (Masahiko Satoh & Soundbrakers, Love Live Life), Yusuke Hogushi (Sound Ltd.), Hideaki Takebe (Yosui Inoue), Kiyoshi Tanaka (Zuno Keisato), and Rally Sunaga (Hiroshi Yasukawa). They released a solemn and mysterious rock Lp, an album with a vision which slowly unfolds in a zen way.

Kimio Mizutani
Kimio Mizutani

Through most of the album is a mood of improvisation build around some fundaments of Buddhist prayers with a psych-rock band playing a mostly droning. With clear organ, slowly rhythmic bass, wooden block, wah-wah guitar, drums, and acoustic guitar, temple cymbals, and an occasional sitar played in Japanese mode.

Curiously, the album starts and ends with a sample from David Axelrod’s Holy Thursday, being one of the first unauthorized uses of a song in rock history. The ‘IM’ highlights are for the entire album, this rite soundtrack captures the beauty of an ancient religion with tinges of modernity, fake orgasms and lots of fuzz. 良い旅を!

Tracks Include:

A1 プロローグ (Prologue)

A2 声明 Part 1 (Shōmyō Part 1)

A3 讃歌 (Sanka) [Gatha]

B1 切散華 (Kirisange) [Flower Strewing]

B2 声明 Part 2 (Shōmyō Part 2)

B3 祈り Part 1 (Inori Part 1)

B4 祈り Part 2 (Inori Part 2)

B5 エピローグ (Epilogue)

Credits

  • Bass: Hideaki Takebe
  • Drums, Percussion: Kiyoshi Tanaka
  • Electric Guitar, Guitar (Slide), Acoustic Guitar, Sitar: Kimio Mizutani
  • Organ, Guitar, Vocals: Yusuke Hoguchi
  • Percussion, Gong: Larry Sunaga
  • Vocals: Akemi Tomura, Goro Inoue, Kyo Shibata, Maiya Sugihara
  • All songs by Naoki Tachikawa and Yusuke Hogushi
  • Arranged by: Yusuke Hoguchi
  • Engineer: Tatuo Kawabe
  • Producer: Naoki Tachikawa

Recorded at: Teichiku Suginami Studios, Tokyo

Original 1971 Lp on Teichicku Records

Tokyo Glance
Tokyo Glance

Yoshiko Sai – Taiji No Yume (1977)

Born on June 22, 1953, at Nara prefecture, Yoshiko Sai since his childhood demonstrated its precocity and many artistic gifts. During her elementary school days, she loved to paint and read all the classics from mythical writer Edogawa Rampo (The Japanese Poe).

In junior high school, she was a member of the coral, taking his first lessons in music; by high school, she played in a folk-rock group but the music wasn’t in its main plans so far.

Portrait
Portrait

In 1972 she tried to enter the Kyoto City University of Arts but wasn’t accepted, then she tried the Kyoto Doshisha University where she passed the entrance examination. In May of that year, she was caught by kidney disease, having to spend a year in observation.

Over this period she would recall:

‘I read a LOT of books from famous novelists, such as Mushitaro Oguri, Yumeno Kyusaku, Juran Hisao, and Yokomizo Masashi. These dark novels made me accept and relax about the disease, my forthcoming production of lyrics and music was strongly tied with this fact.’

After leaving the hospital, she incessantly started to wrote poetry and in 1974 debuted and won a contest at a local radio program. She then received an invitation to play an opening act for Rabi Nakayama concert. Two record companies became interested in her music and after the show, she was contracted by Teichiku Records.

1978 Promo
1978 Promo

Yoshiko Sai recorded four albums in four years, between May 1975 and December 1978, the 2nd (Mikkō) and 3rd (Taiji No Yume) of her releases may be considered more Progressive than Folk. Unfortunately, she abruptly retired from a career at the age of 25 in 1979.

A story told is that Yoshiko may have doubted her talent in music and lost her self-confidence. In recent years, a revival of interest in his music made her come back to record a new album with Jojo Hiroshige, called Crimson Voyage in 2001. Lastly, there’s been some re-releases from its 70s records, unedited live performances and poetry books.

Let’s go to our album:

In 1977 she moved to the Nippon Columbia company, and on September 25, she announced Taiji No Yume (Fetus Dream). Heavily inspired by the pre-war oddball and ghostly neurosurgeon doctor and writer Yumeno Kyusaku, hence the strange atmosphere this disc abides in. Quite dark in the overall texture, at the time of this she was merely 24 years old. Totally unknown for non-japanese listeners, this album is really a must for people into some more advanced Japanese historical recordings.

Melancholic Breeze
Melancholic Breeze

With utterly beautiful arrangements by the legendary Yuji Ohno, this is certainly my favorite album from her. A kaleidoscope of genres that spring from the depths of the inner mind: folk, jazz, bossa nova, flamenco, prog, rock and so. Yoshiko Sai plays the role of each and invites us to another dimension of reality, the “IM’ highlights are for:

Aoi Glass-Dama, with nice synths and strings, this rock ballad has an interesting crescendo, delivering an amazing emotional interpretation. And Taiji No Yume, a 9-minute epic, simply one of the best Japanese songs of all time, without exaggeration, I’ll let the words and adjectives to you, do not miss Yoshiko Sai’s haunting realms. 良い旅!

Tracks Include:

A1 ヒターノ (Gitano)

A2 アルハンブラの青い壜 (Alhambra No Aoi Bin)

A3 ある晴れた夜 (Aru Hareta Yoru)

A4 波止場 (Hatoba)

A5 春の夢 (Haru No Yume)

A6 海の沈黙 (Umi No Chinmoku)

B1 青いガラス玉 (Aoi Garasudama)

B2 遍路 (Henro)

B3 白昼夢 (Hakuchūmu)

B4 胎児の夢 (Taiji No Yume)

All songs and lyrics by Yoshiko Sai

Blow Up LX-7021A /// 25/09/1977

Musicians

Drums: Yasushi Ichihara

Electric & Acoustic Guitar: Tsunehide Matsuki

Gut Guitar: Kiyoshi Sugimoto

Electric Bass: Kenji Takamizu (1,2,4,5,9,10) /// Akira Okazawa (3,6,7,8)

Acoustic Piano: Masahiko Sato

Electric Piano, Solina, Spinet & Synthesizer: Yuji Ohno

Percussion: Lary Sunaga

Arranged (strings, brass, instrumental) by Yuji Ohno

Credits

Directed by: Shun Ohki

Produced by: Akira Sakajima

Engineer: Tomiji Iyobe

Art Director: Kazuhiro Saito

Cover Illustration: Yoshiko Sai

Illustration: Tsuyoshi Takigaito

Photography by: Jin Komine

Layout: Takashi Eakabayashi

Taiji No Yume Illustration
Taiji No Yume Illustration