Masayuki Sakamoto – Psy’chy
From 風雅 Shizen Collection ’87
Released on Shizen, 1987, Japan

A few months ago we mentioned a record by Japanese bassist Motohiko Hamase, released on Shizen. However we did not discovered him through the record we wrote about but through a compilation released on the label in 1986 and simply called Shizen Collection ’86.

It turned out that it was an interesting series as we then discovered Masayuki Sakamoto on the 1987’s edition of the compilation, Shizen Collection ’87.

We don’t have any more clues concerning the label than we had at the time we wrote about Hamase. All we know is that Shizen is a sub-division of the equally mysterious but evocatively named label Sound Design Records, which was seemingly created to release Kitaro records, as 90% of the label’s catalogue are Kitaro records (a japanese Windham Hill). To be honest, we don’t know a thing about Masayuki Sakamoto neither.

What’s striking about Masayuki Sakamoto‘s contribution to the compilation – apart from the lack of information about the musician –  is how perfect it is. Indeed, the song is close to perfect if we consider how well it ticks all the categories on the bill of specifications of what we expect from ambient music from Japan in 2017: a minimalistic arpeggiated backbone, lighter-than-air piano melodies, absolutely ethereal sounds, a warm and round bass-stroke, a cinematographic feeling…

And it is slightly disturbing. It is disturbing because it means that we have already idealized an aesthetic which sounded very fresh to our ears only a few years, if not a few months ago. We are puzzled by the fact that it fits our (and maybe many more people’s) expectations of an ambient tune recorded in Japan. Don’t get us wrong, we absolutely love this song – as it is truly brilliant –  we just have these weird feeling that it was composed by someone living in 2017, who traveled through time to release it 30 years ago.

So, this song sure is amazing but it also strongly questioned dominating aesthetics in today’s productions and especially the fact that many ears seem to be mysteriously attracted by the year 1987 (including ours).


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