I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chika Ueda+Karyobin -- Purple Monsoon (パープル・モンスーン)

The main song of this entry starts at 11:43 mark of the video. Youtube apparently got rid of most of the group's studio recordings.

J-Canuck wrote a bit about the talented Chika Ueda (上田知華) and Karyobin, the string quartet that played with her in the early days. I tried to dig some other information on them, but there wasn't much other than the few songs they were known for. Finding out the other four members' names was the biggest challenge. Being familiar with Ueda's later compositions for Miki Imai and Miho Nakayama, I was curious to hear what she sounded like back then. I came across "Purple Monsoon" (パープル・モンスーン), the group's most representative song. The title actually has nothing to do with the monsoon dress, but rather takes the literal meaning of the word to compare the changing winds with the subject's renewed vigor for life after a series of heartbreaking episodes. There's a beautiful visual metaphor in the lyrics of opening the heart's window to a new season.

The music is striking, too, especially that bright chorus melody. Just what one needs in the morning along with a cup of coffee. I also found the arrangement is wonderfully dynamic, considering that it's just piano, strings and Ueda's vocals. I've listened to the other songs in the video above, and it seems like Chika Ueda and Karyobin enjoyed meshing classical and New Music stylings to create this unique hybrid. "Sotsugyo Ryokou" (卒業旅行) (skip to 6:14 mark) is another great example of that. Those 22 minutes of joy encouraged me to buy two of the group's LPs so I could hear more.

The group were busy during their brief time together from 1978 to 1982, releasing 9 singles and 6 albums. "Purple Monsoon" was their 5th single from May 25, 1980. Ueda wrote and composed it with Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやまこういち) handling the arrangement. It got decent promotion as a CM jingle for Sanyo's "Summer's Purple Campaign". Unfortunately, I don't have any Oricon data, though it did become a minor classic in native Japan judging by all the hearsay online. It was also included on their third album, appropriately titled "Chika Ueda+Karyobin(3)", that came out two months later.

The LP with my Technics SL-1300

1 comment:

  1. Hi, nikala.

    Seeing her albums in "Japanese City Pop" all these years made me interested in how Ueda and Karyobin sounded back then. I had thought that all I knew was Ueda's "I Will" back in 1991 but listening to most of the tracks including "Purple Monsoon" just now, I realized that I did listen to at least one of the songs via "Sounds of Japan" years ago. Either it's on a Canadian Tire tape that I have yet to re-discover or I may have taped over it by mistake.

    I think classical-sounding pop music has always had an affinity with the Japanese. I hear it often on some of the anime I've seen as background music.


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