Yoshiko Sai – Mikkō (1976) [Repost]

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

Yoshiko’s Painting Cover Art

Halina Frąckowiak ‎– Geira (1977)

Halina has already appeared here on a 2014 post about multiple female artists, but today she deserves a full entry, another Pole legend to grace us with all her talent!

Let’s go to our artist:

Halina Maria Frąckowiak (born April 10, 1947, in Poznań) is a Polish pop/rock singer, composer, and songwriter. She debuted in 1963 at the Young Talents Festival in Szczecin, where she competed with future polish legends such as Czesław Niemen, Zdzisława Sośnicka and Krzysztof Klenczon, and became the winner of the so-called “Golden Ten”.

Then she won further awards at song festivals in Opole and in Kołobrzeg in the years 1969, 1976, 1977, 1988, 1991 and 1993 (!). Working with such bands as Czerwono-Czarni, ABC Group, Tarpany, they launched a plethora of hits throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Halina & Grupa ABC – 1972

In 1972 Halina outset in a solo career, it was then that she won the plebiscite for the most popular singer, several times took part in foreign festivals (Ostend, Rostock, Dresden), where she received the most important awards, including “Golden Microphone” of the Polish-American Artistic Agency. Halina has recorded over 20 discs and cassettes, and her concerts have been seen in many places in Europe as well as in the US and Canada. She performed, at the Musical Theater in Gdynia, the Grand Theater in Łódź and Warsaw.

Halina’s 1977 Grace

The album Ogród Luizy (Luisa’s Garden) from 1981 was created as a result of Halina Frąckowiak’s fascination with the poetry of Kazimierz Wierzyński, this is the effect of the gradual change of the singer’s repertoire to a more serious and lyrical one conception since its debut with the renowned Idę in 1974. The last decade only saw re-releases of her past records and many live presentations until today, its last record is from 2006.

Let’s go to our album:

Let us present you Halina’s second (and better) entry, a fantastic collaboration between the singer and the almighty prog-trio SBB, here in a way that some fans might not know:

Zespół SBB – Made In Poland

“The three musicians that revolutionized Polish rock” or “Beyond doubt the most prominent representatives of progressive rock in Poland” with these credentials it’s easy to drool out with this magnificent record. The trio changed their groove in some nice ways for the album, mostly known for their long-form, fusion-styled jams, here, they compact that energy into shorter, tighter songs that often have a funky rock style or ambient jazz-pop that draws equally from the vocals in the lead, and from the keyboards of Jozef Skrzek!

Believe me, you don’t want to miss this one…

The ‘IM’ highlights are Wzejdę Polnym Makiem and Śnij Tylko Szczęście.

Tracks Include:

A1 Jesteś Spóźnionym Deszczem
A2 Myśli Twoje Śnić Zaczynam
A3 Wzejdę Polnym Makiem
A4 Otwieram List – Brązowy Wrzesień
A5 W Powszednie Dni
B1 Śnij Tylko Szczęście
B2 Pieśń Geiry
B3 Chcę Być Dla Ciebie
B4 Brzegi Łagodne

Credits
Featuring: Zespół SBB

Backing Vocals: Alibabki
Lyrics By: J. Matej
Music By: J. Skrzek

Design – Rafał Jasionowicz
Engineer: J. Złotkowski, M. Gola
Photography By: Marek Karewicz

Companies
Record Company: Polskie Nagrania
Printed By: Łódzka Drukarnia Akcydensowa

Polskie Nagrania Muza ‎– SX 1428

Presently

Osamu Kitajima (喜多嶋修) – Benzaiten (1974)

capa cópiaThe music of Japan includes a wide array of performers in distinct styles both traditional and modern. The word for music in Japanese is 音楽 (ongaku), combining the kanji  ‘on’ (sound) with the kanji  ‘gaku’ (enjoy). Many instruments, as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries, the accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the 16th century. Western classical music, introduced in the late 19th century, now forms an integral part of Japanese culture. The imperial court ensemble Gagaku has influenced the work of many modern Western composers.

Notable classical composers from Japan include Toru Takemitsu and Rentarō Taki.

Biwa & Koto by Utagawa Kunisada, 1848
Biwa & Koto by Utagawa Kunisada, 1848

Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop (popular music). Japan is the second-largest music market in the world, with a total retail value of over 3 billion dollars in 2013, dominated by Japanese artists. Karaoke is also the most widely practiced cultural activity, ahead of flower arranging (ikebana) or tea ceremonies. Traditional Japanese music is quite different from Western music as it’s based on the intervals of human breathing rather than mathematical timing. (!)

Toru Takemitsu
Toru Takemitsu

Let’s go to our artist:

Osamu Kitajima (February 3, 1949) was born and raised in the beach town of Chigasaki (Kanagawa Prefecture), as a young man he studied classical guitar and piano; his first band the Launchers, was led by pop idol and actor Yuzo Kayama, the group disbanded in the late ’60s, after Kitajima began to work on his own.

After graduating from Keio University, and already a successful composer of TV and advertising jingles, he moved for one year to the UK in 1971, which brought him in to contact with British folk and psychedelia. Inspired by The Beatles, T. Rex, and Syd Barrett, he dubbed himself Justin Heathcliff and issued a lone eponymous album.

Dr. Osamu Kitajima, 1972
Dr. Osamu Kitajima, 1972

His first solo album in 1974, Benzaiten, was a mix of modern pop and traditional Japanese music, and was well received in Japan and later released abroad (Antilles label in U.S.) where it received some underground radio airplay and sold moderately. Also in 1974 Kitajima relocated to the Los Angeles area and later opened East Quest Studios; the late ’70s and ’80s saw the establishment of its career, with more than a dozen Lp’s, he has become one of Japan’s biggest selling artist internationally!

During the decades, Osamu Kitajima expanded his work to include commercial and soundtrack work, he provided part of the music to the blockbuster mini-series Shogun and contributed to the soundtrack of Sharkey’s Machine. He also arranged the scores for PBS documentaries on Japan, Chinese/Japanese film Mandala and produced a number of artists. Nowadays, inside East Quest Records, he continues to release his own albums (new and re-issues), as well as works by countless artists.

Osamu's Portrait
Osamu’s Portrait

Let’s go to our album:

This is truly a melting pot of Western rock and Japanese traditional music, very few have pulled it off so well as Kitajima does here. Either they usually fall prey to new age sappiness or move towards amateurish exploitation, fortunately, it does not happen here, a real serious work, the type of rock-influenced world music that still hasn’t been much explored at all. The album also featured Haruomi Hosono and it utilized various electronics: synthesizerrhythm machine, and electronic drums.

A bit different from our previous entry Buddha Meet Rock, this is a more elaborate record, with brilliant musicians and cinematic feelings, being a cornerstone of Japanese folklore, be enlightened by Kitajima’s masterful work and Bono Trinus!

Benzaiten Goddess
Benzaiten Goddess

The ‘IM’ highlights are Taiyo (The Sun) and Benzaiten (Reprise).

Tracks Include:

A1 Benzaiten (The God of Music and Water)

A2 Taiyo (The Sun)

A3 Tengu (A Long-Nosed Goblin)

B1 Benzaiten (Reprise)

B2 Whoma (Immortality)

Credits

  • Acoustic Guitar, Synthesizer, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Koto, Biwa, Drums (African, Mexican), Electronic Drums (Rhythm Machine): Osamu Kitajima
  • Bass: Dennis Belfield, John Harris
  • Biwa: Masako Hirayama
  • Drums (African): Kinji Yoshino
  • Drums (Tsuzumi), Percussion (Narimono): Kisaku Katada
  • Electric Bass: Haruomi Hosono
  • Electric Guitar: George Marinelli
  • Flute (Hayashi-bue): Haruyoshi Hosei
  • Keyboards: Brian Whitcomb
  • Shakuhachi: Tatsuya Sano
  • Sho: Yosei Sato
  • Engineer: Kinji Yoshino
  • Engineer (Assistant): Yutaka Matsumoto
  • Producer: Kinji Yoshino, Osamu Kitajima
  • Distributed and Manufactured: Island Records Inc.
  • Antilles U.S. release of the album first released by Island Records (Japan) in 1974.

Recorded through Jan/Aug 1974 at Hit Studio of Jean Jean Theater, Tokyo

Whoma recorded live at Nikkei Hall.

Antilles ‎– AN 7016

Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival

Magic Carpet – Magic Carpet (1972)

folder cópiaThe emotion provided by Raga (classical India music) is not only effective, it’s a real message, an aesthetic of nature, of the divine, a virtue able to guide the listener to a state of emotional trance. In the ’60s, with the launch of the international success of raga, masters such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, leaded European and American artists to become more and more captivated by the dynamical relation between mystical emotion, spirituality, and music. The emergence of Raga schools from everywhere (still perpetuating the ancestral musical traditions), and initiatory travels of Western minimalist-modern jazz composers (Terry Riley, Don Cherry) to India, founded a growing interest for this (transcendental) musical universe.

George Harrison & Ravi Shankar
George Harrison & Ravi Shankar

The emphasis on circular rhythms, ornamentation (gamaka), the use of acoustic stringed patterns, the sense of beatific endurance and lengthy improvisation are the central characteristics of this music in term of practice and sound aestheticism. Emotionally, the function on the listener is hypnotic, voluntary trying to reach him into a higher state of consciousness, modulating his perception of time and space. (!)

The basic conception of drone (continuous sound form) will be taken back in popular music and turned into kosmische electronica (70’s Berlin underground). After Seventh Sons’ first original but rather discreet effort simply called Raga (1964) and Malachi’s Holy Music (1967), famous bands such as The Beatles in Revolver (1966) and Traffic in their album Mr. Fantasy (1967) were seduced by the sonorities of Indian raga music, they also occasionally incorporate sitar elements to their music.

Raga Megha, Kailash Raj
Raga Megha, Kailash Raj

Let’s go to our artist:

Way back in the early ’70s in London, three friends came together to play some unusual music: Sitarist Clem Alford, guitarist Jim Moyes, and tabla player Keshav Sathe, formed a unique Anglo-Indian fusion, calling themselves Sargam (the name of a note in an Indian scale). They made one album under the name Sagram, misspelled by the Windmill recording company and inappropriately entitled Pop Explosion Sitar Style. This album was released without the band’s permission, with a ludicrous cover photograph bearing no relation to any band members or anything about them. (!)

In 1971, soon after the release of Sagram, the Sargam trio was offered another Lp recording contract by Mushroom Records, with the proviso that they find a singer. Having met her when they were both at Chelsea School of Art, Jim Moyes contacted Alisha Sufit. She busked in street markets, singing and playing at the London Underground by day, and did gigs around the clubs and colleges at night.

Cheesy Cover!
Cheesy Cover!

Jim Moyes invited her to play and the four musicians soon renamed themselves Magic Carpet, forming a unique Anglo-Indian musical collaboration, facilitated by the fact that Alisha was writing songs set in open modal tunings on the guitar making them instantly compatible with the tuning of the sitar. The band recorded the Magic Carpet album in the winter of 1971/1972 on Mushroom Records label.

The four stayed together for nearly a year, doing a few prestigious gigs, at the 100 Club in London, Wavendon (Cleo Laine, John Dankworth’s venue), several festivals, Sounds of the Seventies on BBC Radio, but they finally parted company in 1972.

Magic Carpet
Magic Carpet

After a considerable gap, the four met up again. Jim was no longer performing and Keshav had retired, but Clem and Alisha were still playing professionally and it was a natural step to do another album, in 1996 they recorded the album Once Moor (subtitle Magic Carpet II) released on the Magic Carpet Records label. It consists of songs written/sung by Alisha, plus some instrumental tracks, with Clem Alford on sitar/tamboura, Alisha on guitar, and Pandit Dinesh and Esmail Sheikh on tabla.

Let’s go to our album:

Originally published in 1972 for Magic Carpet records, the Lp shows a dynamic mixture of original folk inventions, psych-Hindu sitar gems and gorgeous, omnipresent, accentuated female vocals by Alisha. Lyrically all the album is about east mysticism, love, spirituality, time of Creation and such. The music itself is poetic, combining simplistic folk guitar motifs to raga scales, in spiritual Hindu-folk experience, with soft psychedelic flavor floating all along with the album!

Alisha Sufit
Alisha Sufit

There’s a fantastic interview with Alisha Sufit with long details about them made by our friends from It’s Psychedelic Baby, with a track by track comments, and more!

The ‘IM’ highlights are: Father Time and Take Away Kesh.

बॉन यात्रा!

Tracks Include:

A1 The Magic Carpet (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

A2 The Phoenix (Alisha)

A3 Black Cat (Alisha)

A4 Alan’s Christmas Card (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

A5 Harvest Song (Alisha)

A6 Do You Hear The Words (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B1 Father Time (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B2 La La (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B3 Peace Song (Alisha)

B4 Take Away Kesh (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B5 High Street (Alisha)

B6 The Dream (Alisha)

Credits

  • Electric Guitar: Jim Moyes
  • Sitar, Esraj, Tambura: Clem Alford
  • Tabla, Percussion: Keshav Sathe
  • Vocals, Acoustic Guitar: Alisha
  • Design (Cover Design)Alisha
  • Photography: Gabriel Weissman
  • Producer, Engineer: Vic Keary

Magic Carpet Records ‎– MC 1001 LP

Fantastic (Pulp) Magazine
Fantastic (Pulp) Magazine

Russ Garcia & His Orchestra – Fantastica (1958)

capa cópiaAs we previously approached on Yma Sumac’s first entry, on the very birth of the genre knows as Exotica, today we’ll recap that and add a new genre: space-age pop!

Space-age pop is a music genre associated with Mexican and American composers and songwriters in the Space Age of the ’50s and ’60s. It is also called bachelor pad music or lounge music. It was inspired by the spirit of those times, an optimism based on the strong post-war economy, technology boom, and excitement about humanity’s early forays into space. Although there is no specific album, date, or year when the genre was born, producer Irwin Chusid identifies its heyday as roughly 1954 to 1963, from the dawn of high-fidelity (hi-fi) to the arrival of the Beatles.

Space Escapade, 1958
Space Escapade, 1958

There are several styles that can be recognized as an influence: classical composers like Ravel, Debussy or Stravinsky; the big bands of the ’40s; and different exotic styles, such as Samba, Latin, and Calypso Jazz. It is also related to Exotica and lounge music and may be regarded as a precursor to space music. (!)

Populated with the outcasts from other well-established genres, Space Age Pop is full of brilliant, bizarre, and exciting sounds, which are particularly striking to ears accustomed to the stereotypes that populate the more familiar genres.

Juan García Esquivel
Juan García Esquivel

Let’s go back to Exotica:

The strictest definition limits exotica to the imitations of Polynesian, Afro-Caribbean, and Hawaiian music that were produced by Les Baxter and others from the mid-1950s to the very early ’60s. There were two primary strains of this kind of exotica: Jungle and Tiki. The jungle was definitely a Hollywood creation, with its roots in Tarzan movies or W.H. Hudson’s novel, Green Mansions. Les Baxter was the king of jungle exotica and spawned a host of imitators while opening the doors for a few more genuine articles such as Chaino, Thurston Knudson, and Guy Warren.

Ritual of the Savage, 1951
Ritual of the Savage, 1951

Tiki was introduced with Martin Denny’s Waikiki nightclub combo cum jungle noises cover of Baxter’s ‘Quiet Village’, although Denny’s vibe player, Arthur Lyman, soon became the style’s most representative artist. Tiki rode a wave of popularity in the late ’50s and early ’60s marked by the entrance of Hawaii as the 50th state in 1959 and the introduction of Tiki hut cocktail bars and restaurants around the United States!

Martin Denny's Group
Martin Denny’s Group

Let’s go to our artist:

Russel Garcia (12 April, 1916 – 19 November, 2011) attended at San Francisco State University and then studied composition (with Castelnuovo-Tedesco) before going to work as a professional arranger and composer. He worked with Horace Heidt and Al Donahue before settling in LA to work with a theatre orchestra. He then moved to studio work, first NBC radio and later with Warner Brothers, Disney, and others.

He freelanced around labels, working with singers such as Anita O’Day and Frances Faye as well as several mainstream jazz artists. He also wrote scores for films such as ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘Atlantis’ and contributed music to the television series ‘Rawhide’ and ‘The Virginian’. In the mid-’60s, he wrote several original works for Stan Kenton’s ‘Neophonic’ orchestra. He also published a book on arranging and orchestration that’s still considered a primary text. (!)

Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald & Russ Garcia
Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald & Russ Garcia (Porgy & Bess)

Let’s go to our album:

Fantastica remains the gold standard by which all outer space exotica records are judged, composed and conducted by Russ Garcia, the album is a marvel of sound and structure, brilliantly evoking the music of the cosmos via revolutionary studio techniques, cinematic arrangements, and innovative electronic elements!

Created in tandem with Liberty Records‘ chief engineer, Ted Keep, Fantastica bears little resemblance to conventional earthly music: alongside traditional instruments like woodwinds, harp, and percussion is a series of electronic devices and effects, including a sine wave generator that creates treble and bass tones of almost inhuman extremes. Conjuring horrific images of alien attack (The Monsters of Jupiter), natural disaster (Nova), and chilling isolation (The Lost Souls of Saturn) that articulate the collective unconsciousness of humankind, a true masterpiece!

The Maestro
The Maestro

The ‘IM’ Highlights are Venus and Frozen Neptune. (this is an exclusive rip)

Summing up, this is my Top 3 of the whole genre, an atemporal Lp, nothing appealing or stereotypical as some mentioned during our entry, startle yourself!

Приятно пътуване!

Tracks Include:

A1 Into Space

A2 Nova (Exploding Star)

A3 Lost Souls of Saturn

A4 Monsters of Jupiter

A5 Water Creatures of Astra

A6 Venus

B1 Red Sand of Mars

B2 Goofy People of Phobos

B3 Volcanoes of Mercury

B4 Birth of a Planet

B5 Frozen Neptune

B6 Moon Rise

Credits

  • Arranged, Composed: Russ Garcia
  • Artwork (Cover Design): Garrett-Howard
  • Effects, Electronics, Engineer: Ted Keep
  • Producer: Simon Jackson

Notes

Spectra-Sonic-Sound the ultimate in transistorized stereophonic hi-fidelity sound.

Liberty ‎– LST 7001

Jane Fonda’s Barbarella