Shintaro Sakamoto : unique musical playfulness and masterful arrangements
Shintaro Sakamoto released his 3rd solo ALBUM Dekirebaaiwo on 27th July 2016. Shintaro previously played in the three-piece psyche-rock group YURA YURA TEIKOKU. His new record fuses lyrical and musical content that is full of humour, tempered with moments of melancholy and sobriety. The following review was written by London-based broadcaster and DJ Nick Luscombe.
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dekirebaaiwo (Live In-Studio Performance, 7/12/2016)
Review : Shintaro Sakamoto
If you’ve enjoyed the musical output of Shintaro Sakamoto to date you’ll no doubt be eager to hear more of his unique musical playfulness and masterful arrangements. The 10 tracks that make up Sakamoto’s new record, Love If Possible, don’t disappoint.
Shintaro Sakamoto fronted the renowned Tokyo three piece psyche-rock group YURA YURA TEIKOKU for 21 years, until their break up in 2010, and since then has carefully constructed a style of his own with a distinct knack for song writing and performance which reverberate with a timeless sense of style.
His two solo albums to date, 2011’s How to Live with a Phantom and 2014’s Let’s Dance Raw were packed with delightful summer pop tunes throughout, fused with soulful, sweet backing harmonies and 70s West Coast guitar solos, often reminiscent of earlier musical moments by Steely Dan, Prefab Sprout and The Blockheads. Sakamoto’s love for Hawaiian guitar, Beach Boys-style backing and slow burning funk grooves have also become a bit of a signature sound. Oh, and so too a really strange but charming tuned up helium-voiced sound that has a cartoon chipmunk quality…
If one is looking for comparisons, recent European contemporises would include artists such as Dutch alt/soul/pop group Benny Sings, The Whitest Boy Alive from Norway and London’s The High Llamas – artists that, in many ways, share Sakamoto’s parallel sonic / pop universe.
His records are always surprising and captivating on first listen with songs that develop in unforeseen ways and often into freshly creative areas (banjo-funk anyone?). That said his records also work fully within the classic album format ensuring an essential listen for fans of genuinely soulful and quirky (in a good way) pop music….
Sakamoto continues to hone the sound and feel that he has developed to date with his third outing.
There’s a laid back and lazy summertime haze drifting over the music with slow builds, chilled vocals and a tropical innocence laced with Hawaiian blues.
Sakamoto has lost none of the inventiveness of the earlier albums - and that lovely chipmunk vocal sound continues straight away on the opening (title) track, which seems takes us gently by the hand and lead us into a tropical lair, full of the sounds of hidden creatures having a little party far from civilisation.
There are hints of the work of Shuggie Otis during Animal Rashiku and You’re Goofy could have been written by David Byrne. Flute sounds reminiscent of British composer Vernon Elliott’s work for Oliver Postgate’s childrens TV shows of the 1960s and 70s, a lonely saxophone solo straight out of the early 1980s and even a little whistling, (that much underrated form of human musical expression), all contribute a deeper sense of nostalgia to the proceedings.
This is a brilliant record from the opening beat of the first track to the shake of a tambourine at the end of the album’s closer. Like its predecessors, it’s super -skilfully arranged and beautifully performed. Wide-eyed music for city dreamers that’s sure to make you smile.
text by Nick Luscombe
Broadcaster and DJ Nick Luscombe presents BBC Radio 3's Sony Award Winning Late Junction programme, as well as the syndicated Flomotion radio show for Resonance FM and British Airways.
Nick's previous roles include Director of Music at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), as well as Chief Music Editor at iTunes.
He is the founder and director of Musicity, an international location-based digital and live event platform that explores the intersection of music, space, memory and experience.