Keiichi Tomita（冨田恵一）, aka Tomita Lab（冨田ラボ）, is a name that I've learned to keep an eye on whenever he's involved in any songs since discovering his 2003 release "Shipbuilding". I've grown to love the album because of the mellow groove that seems to course through a lot of the tracks like a long string, especially the cafe-worthy "Nemuri no Mori"（眠りの森）with Hanaregumi（ハナレグミ）.
Now, "Shipbuilding" was actually his 2nd album although it was his first under the name of Tomita Lab, and "Nemuri no Mori" was his very first single. However, Tomita's very first album was released all the way back in March 1988 and it was titled "Complete Samples". Actually, I shouldn't say that it was merely composer Tomita behind the project since he was part of a duo named KEDGE with singer-lyricist Naoko Sugimoto（杉本直子）.
Happily enough, I came upon three tracks from "Complete Samples" (so, no, not complete) on YouTube, and I'm quite impressed. The first track I heard was "Chime" which is indeed the first track of the album. And the sound is quite 80s technopop with a bit more stress on the pop aspect, but wow, Tomita Lab sure was different back then. "Chime" is catchy, and all of a sudden, I've got vibes of early 80s Akiko Yano（矢野顕子）, Taeko Ohnuki（大貫妙子）and Ryuichi Sakamoto（坂本龍一）. For longtime readers of the blog, you know how much I love those three, and here is KEDGE giving a pretty good melodic shoutout to them. Plus, Sugimoto kinda reminds me of Mari Iijima（飯島真理）.
Then comes "Narcisse" which continues the funky and quirky technopop. In fact, I think the arrangement here reminds me somewhat of the urban contemporary side of the Manhattan Transfer from the late 70s into the early 80s. Gleaming glass towers come to mind. I've only started to listen and appreciate KEDGE but there are similarities and differences that I'm starting to pick up on between it and another technopop band of that time period, PSY-S.
"Sostenuto"（ソステヌート）is another revelation in that Sugimoto takes on a delivery that reminds me of mid-80s Miharu Koshi（コシミハル）when she splashed into her own technopop phase. And then there's that music. Tomita's melody actually had the hairs on the back of my neck and arms standing up; it is that amazing, especially during the refrain. It is technopoppy, romantic, old-fashioned and bossa-friendly all at the same time.
The album is one of the rarest of the rare. "Complete Samples" can be found on Amazon but you may want to have a tissue handy since the price may induce a nosebleed! Someday, hopefully, it will get the remastering treatment.