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.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sonia Rosa -- Te Quero Tanto (I Love You, So)

Just on the cusp of July now and of course, Canada Day is tomorrow. As I write, thousands of people are happily and sleepily digesting tons of tasty spareribs during one of the major Ribfests in the GTA.

Recently on YouTube, I found this album by Brazilian chanteuse Sonia Rosa called "Samba Amour" from 1979. She already has representation on the blog thanks to her winning "Morning Coffee"(モーニング・コーヒー)from 1970. At first, I hadn't been sure whether this was actually more an album for her Brazilian fans, but then I saw a couple of the tracks such as "Natsu no Image" and "Tokyo In The Blue" and figured that it was probably also meant for Japanese audiences. Moreover according to her J-Wiki profile, "Samba Amour" is listed as her 4th album.

The first track is "Te Quero Tanto (I Love You, So)", and as much as it could provide images of enjoying that cocktail in some drinking establishment in Rosa's native São Paulo, I think it could also have adorned the atmosphere in some classy joint in Shinjuku back in the day that the album was released. I should further peruse the rest of the tracks.

Nona Reeves -- Sannen(三年)

During my last spending binge on Japanese music albums, I did pick up another one in the series of "Light Mellow". This one is "Drive" and it has a few familiar tunes that I've written about at one time or another: Anri's(杏里)Vaporwave darling "Windy Summer", So Nice's "Kousoku Douro"(光速道路)and Michiru Kojima's(児島未散)"Best Friend".

But there are also a number of appealing songs on "Drive" that I hadn't heard before so I will be talking about those in the coming days. One is Nona Reeves' beautiful and bittersweet "Sannen" (Three Years) from the band's "Pop Station" album released in March 2013.

It's a nicely acoustic ballad with a touch of bossa nova about a man reminiscing over a past romance that ended thirty-six months earlier with the possible trigger being the discovery that the former couple's favourite restaurant in front of the train station is slated to be closed down permanently. Although I'm sure that the fellow must have some photographs of happier days, the big physical symbol of their relationship is about to come down literally like a ton of bricks, and he's unfortunately not quite ready to say goodbye, although the lyrics hint that they are still friends.

Written and composed by Nona Reeves' vocalist Gota Nishidera(西寺郷太), "Sannen" was the first track on "Drive" that really caught my attention because of its mellowness pushed forward by the percussion. I especially love how the chords get further richness during the refrain. It's almost as if the realization of the impending destruction of the restaurant is like a gut punch to the soul.

I've also got another track from "Pop Station" already represented and it just so happens that it was the last time that I had written about Nona Reeves, "Yasumou, ONCE MORE"(休もう、ONCE MORE). It looks like "Pop Station" may be worth getting sometime down the line.

Yasuhiro Abe -- Frame of Mind

Following up from yesterday's article on Yasuhiro Abe's(安部恭弘)"SLIT" album of 1984, I'm now going to talk about his next release from November 1985, "Frame of Mind". Incidentally, the cover for "Frame of Mind" has been one of the standouts in my genre bible, "Japanese City Pop". The clouds aside, that figure of Abe in the cool dark suit and the black gloves has me imagining the singer-songwriter as a yakuza enforcer waiting for the money owed his boss. Either I give him his cash or my internal organs.

What finally sparked me to give up my cash instead of my lungs for "Frame of Mind", though, was that cooler-than-a-late-summer-breeze track "Where is Love"...and the cover. When I finally got the album in my hands several days ago, I put it on the TEAC and heard Track 1, "Lady", and I knew that I indeed hit paydirt.

Written and composed by Abe (as he did with all of the tracks unless specified), "Lady" is one sultry and sexy song that belongs to Tokyo. The horns and the Fender Rhodes are perfect here, and Abe's good friend, EPO, is on hand with some heavenly backup chorus work.

As was the case with yesterday's article on "SLIT", I will be referring to kaz-shin's own review of "Frame of Mind" on his "Music Avenue". He mentioned that Track 3's "PUMPS" starts off with what sounds like a variation on the famous bass intro for Tats Yamashita's(山下達郎)"Itsuka"(いつか), but after that, the song actually goes into a more old-timey pop tune about admiring that young lady...and maybe her choice of shoes. Abe's vocals sound very resonant here, and once again, EPO helps out on backup, even doing a bit of techno-jazz scatting near the end. Hiromi Mori(森浩美)worked on the lyrics. "PUMPS" was also the B-side for Abe's 9th single "Tennessee Waltz"(テネシー・ワルツ) released in April 1986.

"Tasogare"(黄昏...Sunset) is a sigh-worthy AOR ballad that kaz-shin says is more of a winter song but both he and I agree that it's perfectly fine for any day that has a decent dusk going for it. Once again, the keyboards are lovely here.

"So Good, So Fine", the final track on Side A represents the good vibes felt by a couple on their Caribbean cruise. Much of the melody is handled by synthesizer but thanks to the additional strings, it has the high-gloss sheen of inhabiting the finest cabin overlooking the Lido Deck. And that "Wonna wonna, wow wow" line repeated in the refrain makes me believe that the song can be easily covered by EPO.

Speaking of EPO covering potential Abe tunes, I think that "Kiss Mark" also fits the bill. It's got that jumpy, happy melody that Abe's friend can do in her sleep. And hey, it is indeed her again on backup. Kaz-shin also mentions that of all of the tracks, "Kiss Mark" sounds the most Nobuyuki Shimizu(清水信之), who did arrange the album. I'm gonna have to check whether Shimizu indeed arranged EPO's big hits. "Kiss Mark" was Abe's 7th single from April 1985 for which the B-side was the pop/rock "Heart Trick" that was placed in the "SLIT" album. Chinfa Kan(康珍化)wrote the lyrics.

The penultimate track on "Frame of Mind" is truly an unusual one for Abe. "Kimi wa Yume no Naka"(君は夢の中...You're in My Dreams)was actually created and recorded by the singer all the way back in 1976, according to kaz-shin, and here on the album, it's been given a re-recording. Despite that, though, it still retains that 1970s New Music sound, thanks to all of the keyboards, and I couldn't help but feel that this could have been created by Off-Course(オフコース)or Sentimental City Romance(センチメンタル・シティ・ロマンス). Plus, the way "Kimi wa Yume no Naka" ends is rather reminiscent of progressive rock.

"Close Your Eyes" is the final track, and the album ends on that groovy City Pop note that is Abe's bread and butter (no Japanese City Pop pun intended). Kaz-shin mentions that this is the ideal drive song at midnight, but I think it's perfect for any time of the day or night while bombing down the highway. No matter the opinion, though, it's a good track to finish on. "Close Your Eyes" was also the singer's 8th single from September 1985.

This was also mentioned in my article on "SLIT", but kaz-shin stated that whereas that album had Abe exploring quite a few genres, he kept things more at "home" here. Perhaps so, but I still think that he did push things into a more mainstream pop feeling here as well, and of course, there is the distinct "Kimi no Yume no Naka".

In any case, both he and I agree that if any of you are intrigued by Abe's oeuvre, then "SLIT" and "Frame of Mind" are the two to get.

Junko Kawada -- Kakuu no Koibito-tachi(架空の恋人たち)

Last week, Pocari informed me of this late 1980s/early 1990s aidoru by the name of Junko Kawada(河田純子). I had heard of her before but never touched upon her music until today.

Pocari led me to this single, Kawada's 5th from March 1990 titled "Kakuu no Koibito-tachi" (Imaginary Lovers) about a couple of lovebirds keeping their relationship playfully under wraps for the time being. The song was written and composed by Tomoko Konno(今野登茂子), the keyboardist for popular band Princess Princess(プリンセス・プリンセス), and it does have that Puri Puri combination of cheerful pop and rock. Ah, natsukashii...

Recording 9 official singles and 3 original albums up to 1991, Kawada hails from Akita Prefecture and has also done some songwriting and acting. According to J-Wiki, she's also now an esthetician. It's said that she had made her debut in the last years of the 1980s aidoru wave along with Eriko Tamura(田村英里子)and Wakako Shimazaki(島崎和歌子)among others. With two other aidoru, Shinobu Nakayama中山忍...sister of Miporin) and Mamiko Tayama(田山真美子), Kawada helped form the trio Rakutenshi(楽天使...Happy Angels) in late 1989. Then, the following year, she also joined four others to create the group Nanatsuboshi(七つ星...Seven Stars). Finally many years after leaving the aidoru industry, in 2005, she, under the stage name of Jurika(樹凛花), and Osaka-born Haruka(永遠花...actress Reina Yoshida/吉田玲奈)began the short-term duo of LENPHa.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Misia -- Amazing Life

Just caught an episode of NHK's "Darwin ga Kita! - Ikimono Shin Densetsu"(ダーウィンが来た! 〜生きもの新伝説〜...Darwin Has Come! New Legends of the Animals) less than an hour ago on TV Japan. The episode focused on the seemingly loopy Lawe's parotia of New Guinea which really needs to put on a show to attract a mate, including the magical appearance of a happy face from its own plumage.

But of course, this isn't a bird is indeed a kayo/J-Pop one. So I wanted to bring your attention to the relatively new theme song for "Darwin ga Kita!". Since around April, the new tune to replace Ayaka Hirahara's(平原綾香)long-running "Smile Smile" is "Amazing Life" by amazing singer Misia.

A mellow R&B-flavoured ballad of inspiration for the animal kingdom, I've been entranced by Misia's latest from her December 2018 album "Life is going on and on". There's that mix of orchestral strings and gospel soul in there that is pure Misia. If it weren't for the fact that it's already been spoken for by NHK, it probably could have ended up on the Japanese editions for the upcoming new version of "The Lion King". Misia took care of the lyrics while Hidekazu Uchiike(内池秀和), the same composer for "Smile Smile", provided the new melody.

Yasuhiro Abe -- SLIT

Well, it took me a while but I'm finally getting around to writing about Yasuhiro Abe's(安部恭弘)third album "SLIT" from December 1984. Mind you, it feels like I've already talked about half of "SLIT" since I've provided articles for four of the tracks: the brilliant City Pop of "Irene"(アイリーン), the driving "Thrill Down", the ballad "My Dear" as penned by Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子), and the catchy pop of "Double Imagination".

The one reason that I'm taking care of "SLIT" is that in the last couple of weeks, I purchased Abe's fourth album "Frame of Mind", and from reading kaz-shin's reviews of both albums (which he dearly loves) on the Japanese music blog "Music Avenue", I felt that I ought to take care of both over this weekend.

Unfortunately, not all of the tracks are represented on YouTube but I was able to track down three of them. First off is "New York Night", Abe's classy tribute to the Big Apple. As he did with "Irene", Chinfa Kan(康珍化)also wrote the words to this one which has the singer-songwriter giving an Airplay-esque mid-tempo tune that would be very welcome on any 80s radio station. As usual, I do love those horns.

It's not a genre that I often associate with Abe, but "Heart Trick" is a pop/rock song that also had me reminiscing about some of the harder pop I used to hear on the radio back in my high school and university days. Again, Kan was the lyricist here as Abe takes us listeners on a pretty intense drive on the Kan-Etsu around midnight, and strangely enough, the arrangement is such that I could have easily imagined Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)of an earlier age tackling this one. "Heart Trick" was also the B-side to the singer's 7th single "Kiss Mark" from April 1985.

My final song is "Cause I Love You", a happy doo-wop-ish which brings back memories of jazz vocal groups doing the standards from the 1950s and 1960s. Sandy Muse wrote the completely English lyrics here, and kaz-shin from "Music Avenue" has even referred to a bit of Beatles in the song; he also mentioned that Abe is a big fan of the Fab Four. Come to think of it, "Cause I Love You" in some areas reminds me of the band's classic "Eight Days a Week", although I also get hints of "Walk Between The Raindrops" by Donald Fagen on his amazing "The Nightfly".

By his own admission, kaz-shin is a huge Abe fan and he (and I) feel that if there is anyone who is entering the Abe zone for the first time, then "SLIT" and "Frame of Mind" are the two must-gets. In addition, the blogger stated that when comparing the two albums, "SLIT" is arguably the better one since the singer decided to dabble in a wider palette of styles while still keeping the mellowness, whereas the following year's "Frame of Mind" is on a tighter leash genre-wise. Anyways, I will go ahead with my article on the 1985 album in the next couple of days.

Makiko Takada -- Yuutsu Denwa(憂鬱電話)

I don't get to see too many of these anymore on the streets of Tokyo, but that is indeed a bona fide phone booth in Ginza with the typical green phone in there. I used to buy those picturesque telephone cards to make those calls in lieu of actual coinage, and back then I had thought that it was a pretty evolved way to communicate in a public setting. Of course, smart phones with LINE are more the thing nowadays.


Golly, I really like the third track on the B-side via the YouTube video of Makiko Takada's(高田真樹子)2nd album "Fukigen na Tenshi"(不機嫌な天使...Moody Angel), released in 1977. "Yuutsu Denwa" (Depressing Telephone Call) has that guitar and chorus really doing it for me.

"Yuutsu Denwa" is another Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司)winner with that languid melody that has me thinking of what Tokyo was like back in the 1970s (despite some brief memories of 1972 that one night in Ginza there). Etsuko Kisugi(来生えつこ)provided the words delivered by Takada in a softly funky and throaty manner. Going back to that guitar and chorus, Hayashi's arrangement reminds me of what Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)and Off-Course(オフコース)did later on in that decade going into the 1980s with their more AOR songs.

The crazy thing is that opening riff also gave me a reminder of the opening riff from "Heartbreaker", a hit duet single for Dionne Warwick & The Bee Gees that was released later in 1982.

As a bit of a postscript, that album cover for "Fukigen na Tenshi" is quite memorable since I first saw it in "Japanese City Pop" all those years ago. It looks like the photographer had barged in on poor Takada when she was doing her hair.

Casiopea/Mondo Grosso -- Dazzling

A grand start to the long weekend today with the sun and heat out there. Teaches me not to wear a black T-shirt out for a walk even in the morning. I may lose an extra few hundred grams here and there which isn't too bad a long as I stay hydrated. That sangria above would be a very welcome libation at this time.

So, how about the melodic version of sangria then? I bring you fusion band Casiopea's "Dazzling" from their April 1983 album "Photographs". Composed by band leader and guitarist Issei Noro(野呂一生), it fulfills the title quite nicely as a summer tune with plenty of pop and a bit of Latin in there, too. Wouldn't mind being in an al fresco environment sipping on that cocktail while listening to this one.

I've read about the comparisons of "Dazzling" with Patrice Rushen's tour de force "Number One" from 1982, and I'm even more impressed with this song since I read that Rushen was responsible for nearly all or all of the instruments. If Jerry from Come Along Radio hasn't already included "Dazzling" and "Number One" in his videos of comparisons...well, here is another one.

A little over a decade later, groovy unit Mondo Grosso released their self-titled debut album in June 1993 with a cover of "Dazzling". It's got more of a downtown club feeling but with the sound of that vibraphone or similar instrument in there, it even has that sense of nostalgia from decades past with me getting reminded of Lionel Hampton. Still, I like both versions.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Rajie -- Ai wa Tabun(愛はたぶん)

Well, the weekend is upon us once more. To be specific, it's the Canada Day long weekend so folks in the major cities are probably doing their best to get out of Dodge as quickly as possible. Plus, it's a good weekend for it with all of the summery weather that has finally arrived.

Therefore, in honour of all of those cars heading out on the highways and byways to cottage country, I bring you "Ai wa Tabun" (Love is Probably) by smooth-singing Rajie. A short track from her 1977 debut album "Heart to Heart", it was also used as the commercial song for the Nissan Skyline, and it's got that calm and mellow melody that would be quite a nice car stereo accompaniment for a relaxing drive out in the country.

That calm and mellow melody was provided by Nobuyuki Takahashi(高橋信之), music producer and brother of Yukihiro Takahashi(高橋幸宏), drummer from Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the lyricist was Keisuke Yamakawa(山川啓介). As the original commercial makes clear, "Ai wa Tabun" has that wistfulness of making that long journey as a loving couple through the countryside and forests, leaving all those urban cares behind. Good times, back then.

Tadao Takashima & Yukiji Asaoka -- Banana no Uta(バナナの唄)

Yesterday, I found out that veteran actor, emcee and tarento Tadao Takashima(高島忠夫)had passed away in the last few days at the age of 88. He was a very familiar face on Japanese TV, and my first experience of seeing him was as the congenial host of Fuji-TV's "Golden Youga Gekijo"(ゴールデン洋画劇場...Golden Western Movie Theatre), one of the regular movie programs of the week showing off Hollywood flicks.

I also got to know him as the host of a few quiz programs such as the above "Quiz Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Don!"(クイズ・ドレミファドン!)on the same network.

Basically, his whole family was on television, it seems. For nearly 30 years, Takashima and his wife, actress Hanayo Sumi(寿美花代), hosted a cooking show on NTV called "Gochisousama"(ごちそうさま...Thank You for the Meal). Also, their two sons, Masanobu and Masahiro(高嶋政伸・高嶋政宏), have also become very famous actors.

As I've mentioned in past articles, it used to be the usual thing for anyone who entered the big time in the geinokai, no matter which particular area, to get some songs recorded. Takashima released quite a plethora of them between 1954 and 1960 with his final one in that period being "Banana no Uta" (The Banana Song) released in May 1960.

This was a duet with fellow actress Yukiji Asaoka(朝丘雪路)that became the theme song for the movie "Banana"(バナナ)for which I'm assuming that both appeared in. Written by Shuntaro Tanikawa(谷川俊太郎)and composed by Toshiro Mayuzumi(黛敏郎), it's a cute little Latin piece which has me wondering if there were some inspiration from songs by folks such as Perry Como and Harry Belafonte. Mind you, near the end, the back-and-forth male and female choruses sounded somewhat kabuki-ish.

In any case, another television legend has left the spotlight. All my condolences to the Takashima family.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Pingu & Friends -- Pingu Rap(ピングー ラップ)/ M-Rie -- Seeds of Happiness

I think that I may have seen a total of 2 episodes in their entirety of "Pingu" the famous adorable claymation penguin. In all likelihood, my television here in Canada and then back in Japan just came across the show for certain scenes during channel surfing. But it says something when I can still remember the name and distinct way of communicating Pingu and his family have, and interestingly enough, all of the characters are voiced by Italian voice actor Carlo Bonomi.

Pingu is popular in Japan, too, and I remember him popping up in a commercial here and there, including this one for life insurance (because when I see penguins, I always think of you do).

Now, as is often the case whenever foreign programming (especially potential hits) is brought into Japan for broadcast, singers and bands are asked to come up with Japanese-language theme songs, and "Pingu" was no exception. And in fact, in July 1993, a CD single was released containing the opening and ending themes for the initial Japan broadcast for the show and on VHS tapes.

The first song is "Pingu Rap" with Bonomi having all of his characters provide their two cents into all of the rapping and scatting under the name Pingu & Friends over a simple quirky rhythm. "Pingu Rap" was the creation of Masaya Matsuura(松浦雅也), one-half of the 80s technopop duo PSY-S. One would expect the star of the show to strut about with a backwards cap on his head.

Its partner song is "Seeds of Happiness" by singer-songwriter M-Rie, or as she's probably known on official documents, Rie Miyajima(宮島理恵). M-Rie is already represented here on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" since she composed Rie Tomosaka's(ともさかりえ)hit "Escalation" in 1996.

Whereas "Pingu Rap" is quirky and fun, "Seeds of Happiness" is simply sweet and adorable. It has that really feel-good vibe in its slightly bossa nova arrangement, and so I wasn't surprised at all to hear that it was Etsuko Yamakawa(山川恵津子)who arranged and composed the song for M-Rie, with Mami Takubo(田久保真見)providing the lyrics. I've learned over the years that Yamakawa just has had this ability to create these lovely pop melodies. This song is an aural version of a Hallmark greeting card.

Yuko Ando -- Sally(サリー)

The summer has definitely arrived here although I'm keeping things cool by closing the blinds in my room. It may look rather dark and depressing then but the temperature is quite nice.

It's been a good long time since I've written anything about the actress-turned-singer-songwriter Yuko Ando(安藤裕子). And on a day like today, something Harajuku cafe-friendly would be nice. That's what I think of her "Sally", the title track from her very first release (a mini-album) as a singer in July 2003. Written and composed by Ando with Ryuji Yamamoto(山本隆二)also helping out in the music, "Sally" has got that indie-ish down-to-earth quality, the type of music to which you can sip your cup of coffee while people-watching. The video featuring the various scenes and looks of the very photogenic Ando herself helps in that regard.

Never mentioned this in past articles about her before I believe, but whenever I hear her, I get all these vibes of Ringo Shiina(椎名林檎), Bonnie Pink and even Akiko Yano(矢野顕子)with that last singer probably due to some of the vocal gymnastics Ando employs. I will have to give her music another hear-see.

"Sally" was also included in Ando's first full album "Middle Tempo Magic" which was released in September 2004. The song was used as the ending theme for TBS's broadcast of the Taiwanese drama "Meteor Garden" from 2001, an adaptation of the manga "Hana yori Dango"(花より男子...Boys Over Flowers). Although "Sally" the mini-album apparently didn't chart, the later "Middle Tempo Magic" got as high as No. 64 on Oricon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Yuuto Tatsumi -- Otoko no Junjou(おとこの純情)

(short version)

For some years now, I've seen enka singer Kiyoshi Hikawa(氷川きよし)as being the young prince of the genre, and as the average age of enka singers goes, indeed, the lad is still plenty fresh-faced although he's been going for a slightly more glam rock image recently. Still, Hikawa has passed the age of 40 so I can hardly call him a wunderkind of enka anymore.

Perhaps that label may be placed on the above fellow. I don't have much information on Osaka-born Yuuto Tatsumi(辰巳ゆうと), but I have seen him on the two NHK music shows "Uta Kon"(うたコン)and "Gogo Uta"(ごごウタ)in the past couple of weeks. Apparently, he's just skirting the age of 20 and is currently a university student but he's been on the up-and-up about his enka career. He released his debut single "Shitamachi Junjou"(下町純情...Pure Heart of Downtown)last year, and earlier in March this year, his second single, "Otoko no Junjou" (Pure Heart of a Man), came out.

(karaoke version)

Written by Kyosuke Kuni(久仁京介)and composed by Koji Tokuhisa(徳久広司), Tatsumi puts in a lot of brio into "Otoko no Junjou" but his voice still has that certain higher adolescent tone in his delivery which kinda reminds me of Hikawa. As for the song itself, there is also something in the arrangement that also has me reminiscing about "Yokohama Tasogare"(よこはま・たそがれ), the classic by Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし).

It looks like another prince of enka has entered the court. May he enjoy his reign in the not-too-distant future.

LiSA -- Gurenge(紅蓮華)

For the Spring 2019 anime season, it's just been "Dancing to Night ~ Kimi e Saitan Warp Kouro"(君への最短ワープ航路)from "RobiHachi" that has been the out-and-out earworm for me. However, there have been some other pleasant themes from the ones that my friend has been showing me over the past few months including the songs for "Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai"(ぼくたちは勉強ができない)and the lone theme tune for the Nagoya-themed "Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki"(八十亀ちゃんかんさつにっき...Yatogame-chan's Observation Diary).

Another show that we've been thoroughly enjoying is "Kimetsu no Yaiba"(鬼滅の刃)which is known as "Demon Slayer" here although the direct translation is "Blade of Demon Destruction". It's a horror adventure that takes place in Taisho Era Japan (about a century ago) involving a kind boy, Tanjiro, who has to do some growing up in a massive hurry after nearly his entire family is massacred by demons with the exception of his little sister who has become half-demon and partner in war. He goes through some rigorous training to become the titular heroic demon slayer, and he's just been joined by a couple of other slayers: Zenitsu, a seemingly hilarious and cowardly kid who actually has some incredible battle depth to him and the literally pig-headed Inosuke who lives for battle and ought to join a Klingon house in the future.

I've just found out that "Kimetsu no Yaiba" is going for 26 episodes instead of the usual 13 which I'm glad about since it certainly doesn't look like it will wrap things up in 3 months. The show's been plenty entertaining and the last major battle before this writing had me thinking all sorts of Marvel stuff such as "The Avengers". And yet, the staff behind the creation of this anime have been able to insert some wacky humour even within the trading of blood and gore.

As I've hinted above, the opening theme "Gurenge" (Crimson Flowers) hasn't been an earworm but it's grown on me over the weeks. Written and sung by singer-songwriter LiSA and composed by Kayoko Kusano(草野華余子), despite the Taisho Era setting, the kickass rock arrangement suits all the hell that's coming to the demons by the slayers. I figure that a future episode will definitely save "Gurenge" as a sonic weapon during one of the final climactic scenes. Stereo Fabrication of Youth's Ryo Eguchi(江口亮)was responsible for the arrangement.

I managed to find a short version of the stylish music video for "Gurenge". The single hasn't come out yet but will be released on July 3rd according to the website for the show.

As for LiSA, she was born Risa Oribe(織部里沙)in Gifu Prefecture. Her stage name stands for “Love is same all” and was once a member of the band Chucky before it broke up in 2005 after which she aimed for a solo career. Some of her musical influences include Avril Lavigne, Rihanna and Green Day. For some reason, Wikipedia and J-Wiki are having issues today so I was able to get the information from another site.

January 2, 2020: I was glad to hear that LiSA was able to perform "Gurenge" at the 70th Kohaku Utagassen, but the red tape of bureaucracy forced TV Japan to mask almost all of her bristling performance. Apparently due to licensing agreements, or the lack of them, TV Japan couldn't show any of the scenes of "Kimetsu no Yaiba" playing behind her to anyone outside of the country watching the Kohaku. Fortunately for now at least, I can see the hidden performance on YouTube (or at least, I was able to...the above video is probably from a regular music show).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Reiko Minaki -- Setsunakute(せつなくて)

In a way, I guess this article can also be considered to be an All-Points Bulletin since I have no idea who this singer is. I'm not even sure if the family name is pronounced right since apparently according to, there are multiple readings for it and I couldn't get any clarity on the singer's biography. But for right now, I will be calling her Reiko Minaki(皆木麗子).

So scarce is the information on this singer that it even took me a while to track down the fact that this particular single "Setsunakute" (Heartrending) was released in November 1994. However, I could guess that this was a 90s release from the shape of the CD single cover seen above and that particular arrangement for the song which reminded me of a number of other not-so-well-known singers from that time period that have ended up on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" and one famous singer from that decade, ZARD. It's a pretty nice song and despite the fact that it's of average length at a little over four minutes, it's also quite zippy.

It was kind of the uploader to include the songwriting information. Lyricist Kiyoko Kitagawa(北川清子)and composer Akemi Kubota(久保田朱美)were behind "Setsunakute" with Masaki Iwamoto(岩本正樹)handling the arrangement. Ah, and the song was the ending theme for the TV Asahi drama "No Make"(ノーメイク...Sans Makeup). Aside from that, I have no other information on this lass, so if any of you know anything more about Minaki (along with the proper pronunciation of her last name), please drop me a line.

BEGIN -- Shimanchu nu Takara(島人ぬ宝)

Well, it's been a day. It was a day which had an all-morning and all-afternoon session of major jackhammering and drilling due to the ongoing balcony renovation project, all hot water cut off due to pipe replacement for far longer than scheduled due to a gas (?!) leak, and the annual condo owners' meeting tonight whose "guest of honour", the independent auditor went completely AWOL. Well, the drilling and jackhammering has stopped for today, the hot water has finally returned and somehow the meeting went on fairly cheerfully. Glad I just live here.

Still, under the circumstances, I want to go with something pleasant and relaxing. So I remembered that on a recent episode of "Uta Kon"(うたコン), a singer performed a cover of "Shimanchu nu Takara" (Treasure of the Islanders), the 23rd single by the Okinawan band BEGIN released in May 2002.

I never got to Okinawa but wouldn't mind a vacation over to the peaceful islands with plenty of long-lived centenarians. If I did make it over, "Shimanchu nu Takara" would be the theme song for my journey to places like Naha, Churaumi Aquarium and Shuri-jo Castle.

According to a July 2017 article in the Yaeyama Mainichi Newspaper(八重山毎日新聞)in the city of Ishigaki in Okinawa (via J-Wiki), "Shimanchu nu Takara" was born when vocalist Eisho Higa(比嘉栄昇)had asked a former classmate who was now a teacher at Ishigaku Junior High School for his students to come up with their thoughts about the island. From there, Higa was able to distill those thoughts into the lyrics for the song.

"Shimanchu nu Takara" got as high as No. 47 on Oricon and won the Kenkichi Yamamoto Prize for its lyrics. Later on in the year, BEGIN was able to make their first of two appearances on the Kohaku Utagassen to perform the song. It is also a track on the band's July 2002 album "Begin no Shimauta ~ Omototakeo 2"(ビギンの島唄 〜オモトタケオ2〜...Traditional Okinawan Folk by Begin ~ Omototakeo 2).

Now, if you'll excuse me...I will take that hot shower now.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Tomoko Aran -- Fuyuu Kuukan(浮遊空間)

The last article that I wrote for Tomoko Aran(亜蘭知子)the singer was just over a couple of years ago in 2017 for the song "Hitonatsu no Tapestry"(ひと夏のタペストリー). Strangely enough, my first Aran article in 2 years is going to be devoted to the album that it came out on "Fuyuu Kuukan" (Floating Spaces).

Yes, after seeing a number of other people gleefully proclaiming their acquisition of the singer-songwriter's 3rd album (May 1983) over the past few years in which folks outside of Japan discovered the treasure of Japanese City Pop and their own brand of AOR, I finally got my own copy of "Fuyuu Kuukan" in the last few weeks. Certainly, because of the surging popularity of this album in recent times, I think that cover has become one of the more recognizable in City Pop.

Strangely enough, though, "Fuyuu Kuukan" can't really be listed as wholly City Pop/AOR. There are tracks such as the aforementioned "Hitonatsu no Tapestry", "I'm In Love" and "Midnight Wanderers", which I've already given their own articles, that do belong in those categories. However, the other songs on "Fuyuu Kuukan" are far more in the pop and even New Wave genres. In fact, I should be slapping myself upside the head since the look of the cover has made that rather obvious. Does that photo of insouciant Aran sitting in that icy-cool blue grid room with the title in computer font look anything like something for a City Pop album?!

Brief self-flagellation aside, the City Pop tracks have been covered so let's get straight to the New Wave-y pop. The first track for "Fuyuu Kuukan" and Aran's 2nd single which came out on the same day as the album is "Body to Body". It starts out strangely reminiscent of a Mike & The Mechanics song and reflects that album cover as Aran on a night out and getting really hungry like the wolf (inside 80s music joke) for that guy. Nothing City Pop about this one with those hard-hitting synths and percussion. I can only imagine Aran stepping out into that disco wearing very angular clothes and blush that goes up like daggers up her cheeks.

"Fuyuu Kuukan" was produced and arranged by Masatoshi Nishimura(西村麻聡), later of the rock group Fence of Defense which would begin its time from 1985. His future band mates, guitarist Kenji Kitajima(北島健二)and drummer Wataru Yamada(山田亘), were also a couple of the musicians helping in the endeavour. Both Aran (lyrics) and Nishimura (music) would be responsible for most of the songwriting for the album's tracks. Tetsuro Oda(織田哲郎)would provide the music for "Midnight Wanderers".

Track 2 "Lonely Night" spells out a funky New Wave tune about a somewhat dysfunctional relationship: the guy treats his girlfriend like dirt, the girlfriend knows this but still loves the guy for some unfathomable reason.

I first heard "Hannya"(般若...The Horned Demoness)on Van Paugam's YouTube radio for City Pop and my initial impression was "Why?!". The folks who were giving their play-by-play comments on the side were also expressing the same sentiments. This is as far away from the genre as a bacon-wrapped steak is from a vegetarian's dinner table. The nightmarish tone brought about from "Hannya" is totally on purpose as Aran sings/shrieks out the story of a woman consumed with rage and jealousy. Reminders of Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Rap Phenomena" and Nina Hagen's "Smack Jack" come to my fragile little mind. Not so much New Wave as it is avant-garde.

"Shaku na Yesterday"(しゃくなイエスタディ...Bye-Bye Yesterday)is the one other song that was not composed by Nishimura but by Masanori Sasaji(笹路正徳)as a playful techno-swing tune. Aran is enjoying her time in a bubble bath with a martini as the hours and minutes tick away before she dumps another boyfriend by the wayside. Obviously, her hannya is no longer an issue.

The final track from the original 1983 LP is "Baby, Don't You Cry Anymore". It's a tune which kinda weaves between jazzy torch song and pop/rock ballad, and is the one track on "Fuyuu Kuukan" that has me thinking of all those Journey and Chicago love songs.

This is actually Track 4 on the album but I've saved it for last. "Dilemma ~ Ni-Juu-Go-sai no Yuutsu"(ジ・レ・ン・マ-25才の憂鬱...Depression at 25)seems to be about an office lady who's already going through a mid-life crisis of sorts in her middle 20s.

"Dilemma" is wrapping up things here since I found out an interesting story about this one from the J-Wiki profile on "Fuyuu Kuukan". The original 1983 LP had the above version recorded, a slow-cooking New Wave tune (with all of the blips and blops) with Aran fairly cooing her own lyrics as if she were Deborah Harry of Blondie.

However, when "Fuyuu Kuukan" got its first CD treatment in 1988, the below version of "Dilemma" was inserted in place without any announcement. Though the lyrics and songwriting team of Aran and Nishimura were intact, the music was dramatically different. It still had that New Wave feeling but with some more pop octane added. It's basically a different tune altogether. According to Nishimura (via an entry on Aran's blog), the original "Dilemma" had been due to be made into a B-side for what I assume was the single "Body to Body", but as it turned out, that honour was given to "Hitonatsu no Tapestry" instead. With the new CD version of "Dilemma", the original was left for posterity on the LP version for years. But with the release by Tower Records of the remastered CD in 2018, both the original is back with the poppier 1988 take brought in as a bonus track.

"Fuyuu Kuukan" is the mix of styles and I was quite surprised when I first listened to it. Thanks to the future Fence of Defense and Aran herself, the singer was given a lot of space and opportunity to give her vocals a workout. This album makes for an intriguing contrast with her next album in 1984 "More Relax" which keeps things solidly in City Pop/AOR with the guys in famed fusion band Casiopea handling the reins.

Tohoku Shinkansen -- Strange Wine(ストレンジ・ワイン)

Ahhh...Tohoku Shinkansen's(東北新幹線)"Thru Traffic", the urban contemporary gift from Japan that keeps on giving. Still cool and groovy with City Pop, AOR, Manhattan Transfer-type jazz vocal and even a bit of 50s/60s pop.

Yet another track from "Thru Traffic" representing the City Pop/AOR aspect is "Strange Wine". I would think that ingesting the real thing would be a recipe for an emergency run to the nearest hospital to exquisitely experience a stomach pump, but happily, such will not be the case here.

With lyrics by Etsuko Kisugi(来生えつこ)and music by one-half of Tohoku Shinkansen, guitarist Hiroshi Narumi(鳴海寛), "Strange Wine" is a pleasantly woozy song performed by Narumi about whimsy and loss. The protagonist is at a seaside hotel, nursing some of that good stuff which strangely triggers past memories of a former love who's now gone due to breakup or death. The sounds of the sunset surf are present as "Strange Wine" launches introspectively and keeps that feeling of hazy remembrances throughout the song. There is that also haunting background chorus in the middle of the song that adds to the fantastical feeling, and reading that the chorus includes the wonderful Junko Yagami(八神純子), Kayoko Wada(和田夏代子)along with the other half of the Tohoku Shinkansen duo, Etsuko Yamakawa(山川恵津子), I feel that "Strange Wine" is a truly magical experience.

Sakanaction -- Wasurerarenaino(忘れられないの)

A few days ago, I received a tip in the comments section under my article for Sakanaction's(サカナクション)"Boku to Hana"(僕と花)about a track from the eclectic group's new album, "834.194" called "Wasurerarenaino" (Can't Forget). And yeah...I cannot forget it!

I remember when in 2015 another commenter cottoned me onto Sakanaction and their video for "Shin-Takarajima"(新宝島)since it was a parody of the opening/ending of an old variety show featuring the comedy group The Drifters from way back when. Delightful hoot, it was...and with the earwormy song, it soon became a beloved tune in the "Kayo Kyoku Plus" collection.

Now, songwriter and vocalist Ichiro Yamaguchi(山口一郎)and the band have done it again with their video for "Wasurerarenaino" which takes a riff...a damn good one...on those Japanese music ranking shows from the 1980s. Video director Yusuke Tanaka(田中裕介)should be getting an award for his creation which brings back the performance segment from "The Best 10" or "The Top 10", and memories of Omega Tribe's(オメガトライブ)appearances on the shows right down to the "Miami Vice" suits, sunglasses and dancers.

"Wasurerarenaino" seems to meld together the City Pop of two different decades. It has a sound that had me thinking of some of the more contemporary stuff from the 2010s such as the songs of Especia, and then the 1980s music by the aforementioned Omega Tribe made by composers such as Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司).

If you're wondering about the old guy in the big powder-blue suit at 2:40 in the music video who looks like he was the biggest fan of Talking Heads' David "Big Suit" Byrne, that is actor Kyusaku Shimada(嶋田久作)as Sokudo Seigen Man(速度制限マン...Speed Limit Man). He's the so-called "villain" in the latest round of Softbank TV ads which even includes Yamaguchi very briefly as the hero...along with the famous white dog matriarch.

Shimada is well-known as the sorcerer protagonist Yasunori Kato(加藤保憲)from the "Teito Monogatari"(帝都物語...The Tale of the Imperial Capital) series. Never seeing the movie, I'd always thought that with his hulking presence and intimidating visage, he played the bad guy.

In any case, my thanks to the mysterious tipster for "Wasurerarenaino" since the album "834.194" also has "Shin-Takarajima" which therefore means that I'm really gonna have to get that release soon. It actually came out just five days ago. Perhaps the tipster was even Yamaguchi himself.😁

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Akiho Sendo -- Denki Hebi Hime Sama(電気蛇姫様)

Marcos V. has been the go-to contributor thus far when it comes to 90s aidoru Akiho Sendo(千堂あきほ)including his article on "Glass no ECSTASY" (硝子のECSTASY). But today, I've decided to put my own Akiho article into the mix.


Like Marcos pointed out in that article, most of my memories of singer/actress Sendo came through the Fuji-TV drama "Tokyo Love Story"(東京ラブストーリー)in 1991 in which she played the jaded Naoko Nagasaki(長崎尚子). Her character was pretty darn serious for the most part when compared to the turbulent Rika Akana(赤名リカ)as played by perky Honami Suzuki(鈴木保奈美).

However, any time that she appeared on variety shows and the like, she was the perky one. She had that 90s look of an out-on-the-town woman in Tokyo, and it was hard to see her in any state other than smiley and giggly. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any footage but there was one time on a show where she was wearing some pretty severe stilettos when she suddenly hit the floor like a finished Jenga game after which she was just a bubbly figure of embarrassed laughter. Then, there's the natsukashii commercial up above that I also remember.

Listening to the jingle in that commercial, I do realize that Sendo was never going to get anywhere near the vocal talents of singers such as Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美)and Midori Karashima(辛島美登里). Marcos has made that very clear, but hey again, we are talking about aidoru so ability was never going to be a predominant issue here.

Having said that, allow me to introduce one track from her second June 1991 album "Hot Box", "Denki Hebi Hime Sama" which translates as "Her Majesty, Princess Electric Snake". I had initially thought that the animal was actually an electric eel, but in Japanese, that would be a denki unagi(電気ウナギ), so indeed this is a snake. Not sure what Chinfa Kan's(康珍化)lyrics are all about since I couldn't find them anywhere, but Kisaburo Suzuki's(鈴木キサブロー)melody is all about the Latin bump n' grind and dance club. With all of the hoopla of the Lambada at the time, there was a subset of J-Pop songs which embraced the energy in swinging those hips and bottoms.

Nope, Sendo wasn't a great chanteuse but as had been the case with many aidoru in those several years, the songwriters and arrangers could whip up some magic for her. I don't think "Denki Hebi Hime Sama" placed too great a demand on her to jump through the vocal equivalent of flaming hoops. Plus, there is always the nostalgic element about hearing these old songs again after over a quarter-century.

Junko Yagami -- Mou Wasuremashou(もう忘れましょう)

Welcome to the first weekend of summer 2019! It's a great day here in Toronto, so I'm hoping that a good lot of us here are soaking up the sun and good weather.

With all of the high-energy music that Junko Yagami(八神純子)has provided us all these decades with my very first entry on her being the spicy Latin "Mizuiro no Ame" (みずいろの雨)and my most recent entry involving her 1985 album "Communication" with the R&B beats, it can be easy to forget that the singer-songwriter is also very capable of giving fans the feels with her balladry.

I received my welcome reminder recently when I heard "Mou Wasuremashou" (Let's Forget), a track from her debut album in June 1978 "Omoide wa Utsukushi Sugite"(思い出は美しすぎて). A ballad about trying to move on from the end of a relationship, depending on the listener's mood at that time, this could spark a quick move to the Kleenex box. Those violins, that oboe and of course, Yagami's alternately tenderhearted and soaring vocals. I guess because of that oboe, I was getting some Carpenters vibes from "Mou Wasuremashou" as well.

Though I did mention how the single "Omoide wa Utsukushi Sugite" fared on Oricon, I haven't done so for the album with the same title. It was a bona fide hit for Yagami, breaking into the Top 10 at No. 5 and not only ending up as the 22nd-ranked album for that year but hanging around for another year to finish 1979 as the 28th-ranked album. A great start to a great career.

Friday, June 21, 2019

SHE IS SUMMER -- Ai ni Ikanakucha(会いに行かなくちゃ)

Still have a lot of songs on the backup list, and so I found this one which is rather mindful of the arrival of summer today.

In fact, the name of the act has the word itself incorporated into it. SHE IS SUMMER is a solo project led by singer-songwriter Miko Yakumo(八雲ミコ)or as she is otherwise known, MICO. Born in Kobe in 1992, she began studying piano by herself at the age of 15 and took up songwriting, before giving her first live solo performance the following year. Then she became part of a trio called Phenotas(ふぇのたす)from 2012 to 2015 before starting up the SHE IS SUMMER project in 2016.

From what I've read, her career has delved into technopop, and under SHE IS SUMMER, she's released a couple of singles, a full album and most recently, a mini-album, "hair salon" in August 2018 which includes the song of note today, "Ai ni Ikanakucha" (I have to see you). It's a skippy and mildly funky number about doing the utmost everyday to keep on meeting the person of your dreams. However, in the music video, it looks like MICO is having some problems doing so since she seems to be trapped in the premise of "Groundhog Day".

MICO provided the lyrics while the composer was Kai Takahashi(高橋海)from the band Lucky Tapes.

TUBE -- Hanabi(-花火-)

Well, it is the first day of summer for 2019. I can't let that go without having at least one from Southern All Stars, Omega Tribe, Maki Ohguro or Misato Watanabe as some of the summer representatives of J-Pop. Certainly, there's no way that I would allow June 21st to pass by without having TUBE put up as an article on "Kayo Kyoku Plus". Strangely enough, the last time I wrote about Nobuteru Maeda(前田亘輝)and the gang was last year, just a few days before Xmas.

What better way to celebrate the arrival of the hot season with one of Japan's top summer bands embracing one of Japan's top customs? We, therefore, have "Hanabi" (Fireworks), another one of TUBE's dynamic, up-with-summer tunes that was also the band's 27th single released in June 1998.

"Hanabi" was written by vocalist Maeda and composed by TUBE guitarist Michiya Haruhata(春畑道哉)as a hearty welcome for listeners to leave the doldrums behind and hit the tropics of fun. I've only been able to find the concert version, but I think a lot of people would say that this is the best way to hear a TUBE tune. It starts off sounding like an intro from B'z and has some mellow parts but I still say that it's 100% TUBE goodness.

The song hit No. 9 on Oricon and was also a track on TUBE's 18th album from July 1998, "Heat Waver". It peaked at No. 2 and became the 53rd-ranked album of the year, going Double Platinum. "Hanabi" also became part of another Japanese summer was the theme song for the nightly baseball broadcasts on NTV for a while.

Happy End/Akiko Yano -- Aiaigasa(相合傘)

Ahhh...the aiaigasa (love umbrella) trope in anime. It's virtually mandatory in any romantic comedy. Frankly, I don't know about how sharing an umbrella is taken in North American society which probably means that it doesn't mean a whole lot. In Japan, though, it's connected with an emerging love relationship and in anime, that almost always hints at much hilarity to come. Even the touching of shoulders between a male and female student under a brolley would trigger a major flood of hormones that would dwarf any downpour outside of the umbrella zone.

Well, the whole mythos...or trauma...surrounding the aiaigasa goes way back, apparently. In fact, legendary band Happy End's(はっぴいえんど)Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)whipped up a darn cheerful tune with that very title on their 1973 "HAPPY END" album. The song seems to be a musical knowing wink to the concept and I think Hosono has always had a happy-go-lucky approach to his creations, including another track from "HAPPY END", "Fuuraibou"(風来坊). My image of Hosono outside of his Yellow Magic Orchestra period is beginning to coalesce as a good ol' guy sitting in a rocking chair just strumming away on his guitar, coming up with fun and relaxing tunes as easily as rolling cigarettes.

Y'know...I would get Akiko Yano's(矢野顕子)1977 "Iroha ni Konpeito"(いろはにこんぺいとう)simply for the famous cover of the singer-songwriter supporting Flipper over her shoulders while wearing that DEVO garb alone. Joking aside, I would like to get the album since it's a 1970s Yano release before her technopop phase. I've got some tracks of that early period via a BEST album, but an acquisition of one of those originals would be nice, too.

From "Iroha ni Konpeito", Yano performs a cover of Happy End's "Aiaigasa" that retains that same playful nature of Hosono's original but also adds in some of that famous Yano vocal play in the background chorus and during the instrumental. Still, it's obvious that when she is actually singing "Aiaigasa", she's also having plenty of fun.

Satomi Matsushita -- 16 - sixteen

That was indeed a nice cold glass of mango juice at the Tower Records Cafe in Shibuya back in November 2017...and I could've used that same glass today. It seemed like a bunch of disparate contractors just needed to alight onto my condo on the same day to do a number of things: clean out the dryer vents, search for the source of a leak in the master bedroom, and start a major balcony renovation. Plus, there was the whole issue of suddenly needing to secure a vent cover when the screw holes ended up breaking. Knock on wood, the day has ended peacefully with much less stress now.

Speaking of stress, I don't look at my teenage years too fondly. Lots of stress there. However, it seems for one singer named Satomi Matsushita(松下里美)from Yokohama, adolescence did fine by her. This is her debut single "16 - sixteen" from January 1989. And sure enough, she was indeed 16 (birthdate: April 28th 1972) when she recorded this.

According to her J-Wiki profile, she had belonged to the same management company as Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里), and with the two kanji in Matsushita's first name being the reverse of Watanabe's first name, a number of the latter's fans also joined the Matsushita bandwagon. I can also say that "16 - sixteen" has the same sort of cheerful pop/rock feeling that Misato's early songs possessed. However, Matsushita's vocals aren't quite the same booming vocals that Misato has had. In fact, I would say that maybe they are closer to LINDBERG vocalist Maki Watase(渡瀬マキ)when she was doing her solo pop thing.

The lyrics were written by the tandem of Rika Ooka and Yukiko Tanaka(大岡利加・田中友妃子)with Ichiro Hada(羽田一郎)providing the music. I just wrote about Hada's other composition last night for Anri's(杏里)"Morning Squall"(モーニング スコール). As for Matsushita's discography, she's released 14 singles up to 2012 and 4 albums up to 2007. "16" was in her first album "Doki Doki" from March 1989.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Yoshiko Sai -- Taiji no Yume(胎児の夢)

Yoshiko Sai's(佐井好子)"Taiji no Yume" (Infant's Dream) is quite the ride. The title track for the singer/poet's 3rd album in September 1977, it starts off as a lonely pianist's dreamy jazz riffing with Sai softly scatting away. Then a little over a minute into the song, it starts accelerating with a Latin guitar as an engine before the strings launch it into the heavens. From there, "Taiji no Yume" retains that Latin feeling but it also takes on the atmosphere of something grander and more operatic, perhaps fit for a movie soundtrack, thanks to the arrangement and Sai's vocals. I'm not quite sure if it would be too frivolous to designate this as a mere pop song which is why I categorized it as a New Music tune.

As we get into the latter half of this 9-minute-and-change epic, the rocket carrying "Taiji no Yume" seems to come straight down like a screaming missile and then even make a crash landing with both piano and then Latin guitar competing with each other on which can create the most sonic ruckus for close to a minute and a half. Finally, in the last several seconds, things go completely slow and spacey...I was expecting the Starchild from "2001: A Space Odyssey" to appear. As I said at the top, "Taiji no Yume" is quite the ride by Sai who wrote and composed it according to her website.

Initially, I'd thought that the song was a track from Sai's debut album "Mangekyo"(萬花鏡...Kaleidoscope) back in 1975, and "Taiji no Yume" could have fit that dramatic cover with the singer standing in the middle of those grassy hills. However, it had its own album which you can see here. It's got that weird and mystical design, and I think that the child in the glass vase minded by the cat (feel free to psychoanalyze) may actually be Sai herself.

One of the commenters for the YouTube video with "Taiji no Yume" noted that the title may refer to a concept from a mystery novel titled "Dogra Magra"(ドグラ・マグラ)written by Kyusaku Yumeno(夢野久作), an author who had a flair for the surreal and avant-garde. The trailer for the 1988 movie adaptation is above and the plot involves a young man who wakes up in an asylum with his memory gone and the revelation that he killed his wife on their wedding day. There might be something akin to some of David Cronenberg's early movies there.