Japanese Singer-Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist's
Follow-up To 2012's How To Live With A Phantom
Japanese singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Shintaro
Sakamoto returns with a new full-length, Let's Dance Raw, which
Other Music Recording Co. (distributed by Fat Possum) releases on
September 16. The album is the follow-up to Sakamoto's solo debut,
the otherworldly folk-pop masterpiece How to Live with a Phantom
(2012, Other Music).
While How to Live with a Phantom was the first many around the
globe knew of Sakamoto, he has long been an icon in his homeland,
having long fronted the psychedelic phenomenon Yura Yura Teikoku,
a Tokyo-based band that emerged from Koenji's legendary UFO
Club scene and, across their 20-year trajectory, achieved mainstream
success throughout the country. Following the group's break-up in
2010, Sakamoto began working on How to Live with a Phantom, a bold
stylistic departure that eschewed Yura Yura Teikokou's psychedelic
freak-outs for a much quieter and harder-to-define sound.
From first glimpse of the cover of Let's Dance Raw, it's clear that
once again, we are entering uncharted territory. The record's sleeve,
painted by Sakamoto, features the artist sitting upon a black throne,
a steel guitar resting on his knee like a child being protected from
the ominous mushroom cloud of smoke billowing behind him.
A grinning skull has replaced Sakamoto's face. This dichotomy of
bright, innocent beauty and subtle perversity is the essence of Let's
Dance Raw, with Sakamoto moving even further from the tough
underground power-trio psychedelic rock of his former band.
He hinted at the new sound throughout his solo debut, and here
the music is blown wide open, with the steel guitar as the unifying
force throughout. Sakamoto purchased and learned how to play the
instrument just prior to writing and recording Let's Dance Raw, and
it enriches the post-apocalyptic exotica on these ten songs, fusing
together the bright and breezy shimmer of Hawaiian slack-key hula
melodies, the dusty shuffle of southwestern desert blues, and the
space-age bachelor-pad music of postwar suburban dreamers. The
result is an album that revisits the soundtracks of musical escapism
made popular in postwar American and Japanese cultures-and
deftly updates them.
It's all anchored by deep, jazzy grooves straight out of a 1970s
AM radio broadcast, and peppered with flourishes of Brazilian and
Latin percussion throughout. Atop the music, Sakamoto sings of the
human race's downfall, the weight of the lyrics made contrastingly
perverse via duets with robotic vocoder voices and helium-voiced
cartoon chipmunks cooing in an unsettling fashion alongside him.
While Sakamoto once again handles the bulk of the instrumental
duties, faithful drummer and percussionist Yuta Suganuma also
returns for this set, as well as bassist AYA, on loan from fellow Japanese
psychedelic explorers OOIOO.
1. Future Lullaby
2. Birth Of The Super cult
3. Extremely Bad Man
4. Let's Dance Raw
5. Like An Obligation
6. Gently Disappear
7. You Can Be A Robot, Too
8. Why Can't I Stop?
9. Never Liked You, But Still Nostalgic
10. This World Should Be More Wonderful