Koharu Kisaragi / Ryuichi Sakamoto

Koharu Kisaragi / Ryuichi Sakamoto

This utopian avant-synth-pop ace from Kisaragi was hurled out of the Japanese reissue cyclone on new label LAG and we’re bloody glad to have caught it. Originally released in 1986 (as a single from the full-length Tokai No Seikatsu album), the A-side and title track, co-produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto, is the point at which all our most fevered new wave, Balearic and techno-pop fetishes intersect. The production and sampling has that quintessentially pert, pellucid YMO quality; the drums are programmed with the full flex and force of early hip-hop...Fairlight funk in excelsis. But Kisaragi's voice is rich and charismatic enough not to be upstaged by these future-rushing (for '86), hyper-lush surroundings, and combines something of the loucheness of Lizzy M.D. with the controlled hysteria of Kate Bush - the English lyrics, which are absolutely as bizarre as you would hope, can only be deciphered with the help of the thoughtfully provided gloss insert (sell!).

The flip is equally blissful, for entirely different reasons: ‘Traumerei’ (‘Daydreaming’) offers all the elegant oddball chanson/folk mysticism of Emmanuelle Parrenin’s Maison Rose (which is back in stock btw), Koharu's voice here a pure, pre-lapsarian shimmer of loveliness, with something of Robert Wyatt or Raincoats in the eccentric instrumentation (bassoon, piano, raucous chamber choir) and wilful, inspired amateurism steering it. The short closing instrumental 'Tail' is similarly pastoral, a hypnotic shamble of droning, modal guitar, painterly synth tones, woodwind and pepper-pot percussion.

Sakamoto is the obvious selling point, and make no mistake, his fingerprints are all over it, but it’s Kisaragi that gives this mini-masterpiece its essential character. One of the best new wave / disco / italo maxi single 12”s this year, and crispy artwork too (gloss with obi-strip).

You can't go wrong. 




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