- This 1988 reissue from the Japanese artist embraces adventurous '80s pop.
- You might not know it, but if you've found yourself infatuated with Japanese music in the last few years, you probably have Yasuaki Shimizu to thank. One of his most curious traits, other than the ability to mutate his sound, is how he rarely occupies the foreground. The reissue of Utakata No Hibi, his revered 1983 album as Mariah, was key in kicking off the current '80s Japan music renaissance in the West. And if you found yourself swooning to Music From Memory's reissue of Dip In The Pool's "On Retinae," you'll hear Shimizu's clarinet soaring over the sleek pop arrangement.
Shimizu's 1988 album, Dementos, is his unabashed pop peak of that decade, but even here he shared the spotlight. The Japanese artist, then living in Paris, recorded the album in the UK and brought in Tears For Fears' drummer Manny Elias, the percussionist Pandit Dinesh, who had worked with Thompson Twins and Heaven 17, and Flying Lizards' David Cunningham, who has since collaborated with Shimizu into the 21st century. He also recruited his sister, Mieko, and recorded her engaging in "hours of idle talk."
These collaborators nurtured Dementos' adventurous musical approach. One moment, you'll be cast adrift in Japanese new age, only for the song to break into a pop tune both thunderous and funky. The title track is quirky enough in its rhythms and melody to suggest that Shimizu might have been able to pull off the Japanese version of Talking Heads. The suave backdrop of "I'm Dying For Love" is plush enough to recall late Roxy Music. Cunningham's peculiar touch comes to the fore on "Find No Word To Say," his syllabic splicing in the intro dovetailing nicely with Shimizu's saxophone. When the voices of Berbadette Mordi, Mal Henry and Mieko are added to the mix, the sax now darting amid their wordless sounds, it makes for a discombobulating peak.
On his website, Shimizu recalls that playing word games with the producer Aki Ikuta yielded all manner of tongue twisters and non-sequiturs that make up the lyrics of Dementos. "I came to realize that song lyrics were more about feeling the tonal quality behind words than their actual meaning," he said. For those who don't understand Japanese, the lyrics become just another sound, though this also means missing out on layers of wordplay. Fitting, then, for an album that embraced all strains of global music of that era, Dementos both eludes easy understanding and celebrates the sheer euphoria of this sonic world.
01. Blue Suits
03. Madame Shriek
04. A Normal Day
05. Find No Word To Say
06. I'm Dying For Love
07. My Friend The Secretary
08. Anaconda Mon Amour
09. Soul De Rock