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Third release of Studio Mule’s new project with Miyako Koda aka Dip In The Pool. Following the cover versions of Ohnuki Taeko’s Carnaval & Mariah’s Shinzo No Tobira,we made the new version of japanese pop ambient classic ‘Face To Face’ by Yumi Murata. Extended edit on a side is full of the respect for the original version and ambient version on b side is simply emotional. The first album of Studio Mule is coming in the beg of next year. Stay tuned.

Motohiko Hamase

Reminiscence

Righteous expensive: Motohiko Hamase's 1986 album "Reminiscence" scores a decent prize at online vinyl selling platforms and it is worth every coin!

It's a perfect 'refuge from nasty reality', as the glorious British 20jazzfunkgreats blog once said, and it comes from a man that knows his trade: bass play - an artisan on which he also already wrote many theoretical books in his more than four decades long career.

In the 1970's Hamase was no stranger to Tokyo's vibrant jazz scene. Together with jazz pianist Tsuyoshi Yamamoto and jazz-rock guitar-ist Kazumi Watanabe he played in the Isao Suzuki Sextet and was part of their classic landmark jazz-funk album "Ako's Dream" from 1976.

In the following years he also participated on records like Mikio Masuda's latin-funk-jazz gem "Moon Stone" or Japanese female jazz singer, actress, and essayist Minami Yasuda's last album "Moritato". In the early 1980's his work shifted from pure jazz to electronic and ambient spheres and he started to compose his own music around his deeply emotional bass play.

From 1985 to 1993, Hamase released five solo albums. just recently Studio Mule dropped his first one, "Intaglio", in a new recording that sounds as stunning as the original release from 1986.

Now the previously mentioned "Reminiscence", his second work for the celebrated defunct Japanese new age record label Shi Zen, follows in a fresh shape on Studio Mule.

As the original, it features deeply touching moments of sheer pristine perfection and distributes Hamase's inner emotional landscape with a bewitching bass performance. a soothingly beauty of an album, that reflects Hamase's search for spaces of melancholy.

A rhizome of soundscapes that capture, settle and sound elusive while simultaneously being awe-inspiring. As for "Intaglio", the 66-year old artist gathered again some befriended musicians, rented a studio, staged his gear and recorded most of the original "Reminiscence" material new, while keeping the moving musical story arc of the original album alive in a fresh wrapping.

The result is a dazzling, blue mood seething, strongly hypnotic long-player, full of personality and hybrid ambient electronic jazz spheres that open doors to unheard sound universes and that perfectly work for all those stress-relieved souls that love the disclosure of the mind and seek for a 'refuge from nasty reality'.


Currently the rediscovery of long forgotten Japanese electronic, jazz and new age music is at a peak like never before, but although many re-issues already flood the record stores around the world: the large, diverse musical culture of Japan still has some gems in store that are really missing.

Japanese bass player, new-age and ambient musician Motohiko Hamase is one of the newer discoveries. In the 70s Hamase was part of Isao Suzuki Sextett, where he played with legends like pianist Tsuyoshi Yamamoto or fusion guitar maverick Kazumi Watanabe.

In the 1980’s Hamase began to slowly drift away from jazz and drowned himself and his musical vision into new-age, ambient and experimental electronic spheres, in which he incorporated his funky meditative way of playing the bass above airy sounds and arrangements.

His first solo album “Intaglio” was not only a milestone of Japanese new-age ambient, it was also fresh sonic journey in jazz that does not sound like jazz at all. Now Studio Mule is happy to announce the re-recording of his gem from 1986, an enchanted, majestic opus as likely to arrest and beguile as much now as it did then.

First issued by the Japanese label Shi Zen, the record had a decent success in Japan and by some overseas fans of music from the far east. With seven haunting, stylistically hard to pigeonhole compositions Hamase drifts around new-age worlds with howling wind sounds, gently bass picking and discreet drums, that sometimes remind the listener on the power of Japanese taiko percussions. also, propulsive fourth-world-grooves call the tune and all composition avoid a foreseeable structure. at large his albums seem to be improvised and yet all is deeply composed. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: For me, the uneducated, this sounds like Steve Reich meets Iasos on a houseboat moored at Lake Kawaguchi (Mount Fuji). Totally captivating and transportive and with a rich musical tapestry. Full marks!

Midnight In Tokyo 2, the second installment to the compilation series that rounds up hidden gems by Japanese artists that's perfect for listening at night in Tokyo, is here. This time the collection brings together some tasty electric jazz fusion from the '80s , compiled by Dubby, the man behind the online record store Ondas.

The compilation begins with "Hikobae," a dark and slow cosmic jazz by saxophonist Genji Sawai, followed by "Danza Lucumi," an odd Caribbean-style jam by Today'sLatin Project, a band fronted by Tadaaki Misago of Tokyo Cuban Boys, with arrangements by Yasuaki Shimizu. "On The Coast" is a soulful and mellow vocal track arranged by Ryuichi Sakamoto, from guitarist Shigeru Suzuki's album White Heat, and fusion boogie cut "In The Hot City" is by Mr. Theodore, which was a one-off project by a mysterious artist.

The melancholic soul jazz number "So Long America" is the title track from the album Yasunori Soryo released in '82, following a stint in America with the band Brown Rice. "Twisty" is a tropical reggae tune from the album Samba Kathy, an underrated classic by Jugando which was released on Trash, a sublabel of one of Japan's finest jazz labels, Trio. "Samarkand" is an electric Latin jazz jam that sounds like something Miles Davis and Santana could have played on, performed by a Latin funk band from Fussa. "Imagery" is a primal African fusion track by Katsutoshi Morizono, a member of the prog rock band Yoninbayashi.

Windmill" is the most acoustic sounding tune on this compilation, a breezy Brazilian affair with a Hermeto Pascoal feel. "Mystery Of Asian Port" is by the band Parachute, which consisted of Japa-nese fusion giants like Akira Inoue, Tatsuo Hayashi and Masaki Matsubara. The cosmic jazz record sounds like something Daniele Baldelli would play in his sets. "Bay Sky Provincetown 1977" is a classic Japanese fusion tune by guitarist Yuji Toriyama.

The set also features the mellow but danceable "Heatwave" by keyboardist Keiichi Oku, featuring a female vocalist (which some have identified as Rie Ida), and last but not least, closing out the 13 track compilation is "Day Dream At The Bob's Beach," a wonderful urban fusion with a beautiful vibraphone melody, from the Japanese fusion classic album that was a one-off project by studio musicians


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Studio Mule treat us to the second instalment of their Midnight In Tokyo series, this time boasting the curatorial élan of Ondas man Dubby. The famed Japanese digger collects thirteen rare gems from the 80s underground, each expressing a different strand of Tokyo's jazz fusion scene - mindbending, body moving magic.

Mule Musiq's in house production crew come through with their second release this week, featuring the vocal talents of Miyako Koda of Dip In The Pool fame. Following their cover version of Ohnuki Taeko’s "Carnaval", Studio Mule got back in the practice room and rocked out a fresh version of Japanese new wave classic “Shinzo No Tibia" by Mariah. Though the new version stays relatively faithful to the original, extended and unhinged bridges, softer sound design and brand new Japanese (the original is in Armenian) by Miyako Koda, make this a welcome alternative to Mariah's masterpiece. On the flip, Kuniyuki takes full control of the desk for a dub version inspired by Adrian Sherwood's remix of Depeche mode. Stripped back and drawn out with a whole load of delay and echo, the new interpretation is a darker take on the track with nods to Tubeway Army and Razormaid.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Studio Mule do their version thing to perfection here, offering a new cover of this Mariah classic, featuring the vocal talents of Miyako Koda. Flip it for a Sherwood inspired dub mix (brilliant) and you'll understand why Yasuaki Shimizu was delighted with their efforts.

After announcing themselves on the world stage with the wonderful “Midnight In Tokyo”, Studio Mule treat us to a vinyl reissue of one of the best and most complex Japanese jazz fusion albums, 1987’S “Breeze” by group Atlas. Hiroyuki Namba is one of the most important Japanese keyboardists of the 80s with a legacy which includes Japanese cosmic classic “Who Done It?” and “Tropical Explosion”, a sought-after gem by diggers. In addition to his work with progressive rock band “Sense Of Wonder”, he’s also an integral part of Tatsuro Yamashita’s band. Eiji Kawamura is a highly respected arranger who has lent his ear and skill set to projects by major recording artists Kyoko Koizumi and Hideaki Tokunaga. The trio is rounded out by skilled studio musician Toshiro Imaizumi, whose innovative keys have graced releases by Ichiro Nitta and Tazumi Toyoshima amongst others. The album opens with the soothing sounds of ocean waves, an evocative introduction to the melancholic fusion number “Mediterranean Breeze”, which sets the Balearic mood for the whole album. “Simpatia” is an album highlight with a euphoric feel that could be Tokyo’s answer to the sounds of Ibiza―an obscure Japanese gem. 'After Brunch With You” is a sunny samba fusion with a playful, bright piano melody, followed by “Summer Breeze,” an electric fusion jam that sounds like a lost Holger Czukay composition. Breezy mellow tune “never come into your eyes” reminds you of the sentimental feeling one gets around the time summer’s about to be over. Another album highlight, “Indige,” is one of Japan’s most unique dance tracks of the time, an electric disco stomper that sound like it could’ve been produced by Todd Terje. “Breeze For Siesta” features Toshiro Imaizumi’s beautiful piano paying, a relaxing song that wouldn’t sound out of place on ECM. “Love Beach” blends prog influences with fusion in a way only Hiroyuki Namba can, while the album ends with “Madrigl,” a magical song with dramatic and melancholic moments, full of quintessentially Japanese sense of beauty.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Another week, another Japanese classic, and this time it's another gem I've been begging gets reissued. Thankfully Studio Mule have heard my prayers, delivering an excellent pressing of Atlas' uber-Balearic jazz fusion winner "Breeze". Alongside coastal coolers "Mediterranean Breeze" and "Simpatia" be sure to check out the electrodisco insanity of "Indige".

Over the course of the last two decades, Toshiya Kawasaki has continually worked to introduce the world to a better class of electronic music, whether it be house, techno or ambient on Mule Musiq or weirder-strands of club tackle on Endless Flight. Now, the Mule family launch their latest stable, Studio Mule, taking a brief break from the club with a more diverse musical policy. In reaction to the recent appropriation of Japanese music by Western labels, Studio Mule's first release is a compilation of rare Japanese disco, boogie and soul, so far untouched by the Youtube algorithims. 
Selecting tracks which they thought perfectly soundtracked a night in Tokyo, they arrived at a setlist as suited to home listening as club play, with a wonderful tone of City Pop running throughout. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Mule's latest sub-section, Studio Mule opens its account with a great thirteen track selection of Japanese disco, boogie, soul and city pop, bringing something a little different to the current trend for Japanese music. I'm in, Ryan Horsebeach is in, how about you?


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