Apparently, Takahashi rounded up some heavy hitters for this collaborative project all the way back in early 2014, according to an article by James Hadfield for a July 15 2014 article for "The Japan Times". METAFIVE consists of Takahashi, DJ Towa Tei, Keigo (Cornelius) Oyamada（小山田圭吾）, former member of Denki Groove Yoshinori Sunahara（砂原良徳）, Tomohiko Gondo（ゴンドウトモヒコ）from anonymass, and singer-songwriter Leo Imai（LEO今井）. I know the first four members and considering how busy they would be with their own gigs, I'm not surprised that it has taken them 2 years to get an album out together. I have barely heard of Imai but when I see him in the video above, I just think that he looks like an old classmate of mine from first year Japanese at the University of Toronto.
In any case, the first song on the album is "Don't Move" which has all of the guys amassed in the studio. For all of the members' respective fans, the scene must be their "Avengers" or "Ocean's 11" moment. And the song is quite the electro-funk fest. Yup, the electronics are there (including a sweet cameo by "R2-D2" from YMO's "Absolute Ego Dance") and Imai does a fun mix of Tom Jones/James Brown/DEVO with a psycho stare to boot (initially) as he takes lead vocal for this song which seems to incorporate just about every cliched line from 80s thriller movies. The line "My mother's gonna murder your guitar" is now permanently affixed to my brain.
But aside from the electro and the funk, I also pick up on some PSY-S and even a smidgen of the legendary Miles Davis in the 1970s when he performed on "Saturday Night Live" one night which had my brain twisting even more when I saw David Bowie for the first time on that show. Generally speaking, with all of the crazy quilt collage of sounds in "Don't Move" and lyrics that Arnie and Sly and Bruce would have mouthed, there is that certain tongue-in-cheekiness, and Takahashi did admit in that "Japan Times" article about as much about how METAFIVE would work. But then again, I think YMO in the early years was also about serving some tongue-in-cheek...really cool tongue-in-cheek, mind you...with servings of surf rock on "Cosmic Surfin'" and 40s movie adventures in Africa with "Simoon".
Track 2 is "Luv U Tokio" which is far more into the cool technopop and has a music video which had me thinking of 80s graphic design posters come to life. I like seeing some of the tall skyscrapers of Shinjuku including the Keio Plaza Hotel which was where I had stayed at when I started my JET Programme experience, and there is also a bit of humour as well with some of the merged images. There is also yet another beloved shoutout to the YMO past (I hope the Professor is getting better).
Will I buy "META"? Not sure yet since I want to take a gander at some of the other tracks but "Don't Move" and "Luv U Tokio" make for a pretty promising start to the album.