Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming.

Label: Wewantsounds.

Format: CD.

Release Date: 27th November 2020.

Usually, the compilation market is buoyant with a myriad of exciting, eclectic and esoteric releases hitting the racks of record shops each week. Sadly, 2020 hasn’t been like most years and this has resulted in many record labels have scaled back their release schedule. Many releases were pushed back until 2021 when hopefully, a degree of normality returns. However, with Bungling Boris, Hapless Hancock, Shifty, Notso and their Oxbridge chums in charge this could take a while. 

Meanwhile, many of Britain’s indie labels are struggling to stay afloat. This includes established and up-and-coming record companies. It’s a difficult market to trade in and sadly, some labels won’t survive. The British music industry could look very different by the second half of 2021.

It’s no different in other countries where many indie labels are also struggling to keep the lights on. Even before the global pandemic, many smaller labels were living from hand to mouth and were happy if they could break even on a release. If they were lucky enough to make a modest profit this was cause for celebration, albeit not at Hapless Hancock’s favourite eaterie.

Despite this being one of the most difficult markets since the birth of rock ’n’ roll, record labels still continue to release new albums, reissues and compilations. This includes the Paris-based label Wewantsounds who will release the Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming compilation on the ‘27th’ of November 2020. 

For Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming the British DJ, radio presenter, journalist and Japanese music expert was given access to carefully guarded Nippon Columbia vaults. For anyone with even a passing interest in Japanese music this was dream come true. It’s the type of things that crate-diggers dream of. However, very few people  are allowed access to the this musical land of milk and honey.

 After being granted access to the highly collectible Nippon Columbia label Nick Luscombe was also given access to the Better Days imprint. This was almost unheard of, and he found himself surrounded by the sound of Tokyo in the late seventies and eighties. 

As Nick Luscombe looked through the vaults, he discovered an eclectic section of tracks from familiar faces as well as a number of new names. They were responsible for a myriad of well known tracks, rarities, hidden gems and oft-overlooked obscurities. It was almost overwhelming and it wasn’t going to be easy for Nick Luscombe to narrow his selections down so that they fitted on one CD or a two LP set. However, he managed to so.

The result was Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming, an eclectic sixteen track selection that featured everything from ambient, city pop, electro, experimental, funk, fusion, new wave, and synth pop. There’s tracks from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mariah, Shigeo Sekito, Juicy Fruits, Hitomi “Penny” Tohyama and Yumi Murata. Some of their contributions have never been released outside of Japan. This definitely makes Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming of interest to collectors of Japanese music from the seventies and eighties. It’s a compilation that’s long on quality.

Opening Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming is The End Of Asia by one of the best known artists on the compilation, Ryuichi Sakamoto. The track is taken from the album Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto which was released by the Better Days’ label in 1978. It’s a captivating and joyous combination of electronic music and synth pop that sets the bar high for the rest of the compilation. 

Self Control is a track from saxophonist Chika Asamoto’s 1988 album Gypsy Moon. Jazz, funk and soulful harmonies combine on this memorable dance track. It’s one of the compilation’s highlights. 

Rainy Driver featured on Hitomi Penny Tohyama’s 1988 album for Columbia, Call Me Penny. It’s a beautiful AOR ballad that features an impassioned and emotive vocal.

The quality continues with the cinematic sounding La Maison Est En Ruine which was released by Yumi Seino in 1983. It sounds as if it belongs on the soundtrack to a spy movie and features a flawless vocal that’s slightly edgy and full of emotion. 

When Kazumi Watanabe released a cover of Bryan Ferry’s Tokyo Joe as a single on Better Days in 1979 he reinvented the track. Swooshing, swirling synth opens this captivating cover where elements of electronic music, fusion and synth pop are combined with dancing disco strings to take this familiar track a new direction.

In 1981, Coloured Music released their eponymous debut album on Better Days. It featured Heartbeat a fusion of new wave and experimental music where a pulsating beat and squelchy syncs combine with chanted vocals and later, traditional Japanese music on this genre-melting track.

When Akira Sakata released the mini album Tenoch Sakana on Better Days in 1980, it featured Room. It’s best described as a slice of skanking electro-reggae that’s dark,  menacing and cinematic

Saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu  released his album Kakashi on Better Days in 1982. It featured Semi Tori No Hi which is a moody, mysterious but memorable mixture of ambient music and synth pop.

Closing Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming is Shigeo Sekito’s The Word II. It featured on his 1975 debut album which was released on Columbia. Its an atmospheric and quite beautiful sounding track that encourages the listener to reflect and ruminate.

For anyone with even a passing interest in Japanese music,  especially from the seventies and eighties, then Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming  is one that they’ll be interested in adding to their collection. It’s an eclectic selection of tracks that features everything from ambient, city pop, electro and experimental music to funk, fusion, new wave, and synth pop. There’s something for all tastes.

Anyone whose familiar with Japanese music will spot some familiar faces on Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming. They’re joined by and what will be new names to many people. They play their part in Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming which is a lovingly curated release that features familiar tracks, rarities, hidden gems and oft-overlooked obscurities and is one of the best and most eclectic compilations of this month.

Nick Luscombe Presents Tokyo Dreaming.

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