Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tomo Akikawabaya - 1985 7" (Castle, 1985)


Side A

Side B
A Dream of No Pillow

Some of you might have already heard the A-side to this fantastic single over at the Habit of Sex tumblr (which I hope all of you are following), but I thought I'd post it here at SD because #1 - it would be a little bit redundant to post it on HOS, and #2 - you wanna hear the B-side, right?
I had completely blown off (i.e. didn't add to my eBay watch-list) the works of Tomo Akikawabaya for a while, mostly due to the kinda cheesy covers (all featuring the same 80s-lady), but the huge prices they were fetching weren't helping to catch my interest either. Being not entirely proficient in determining the gender of some Japanese names, I had assumed it was some synthy dance-pop with female vocals, so you can imagine my surprise when I finally heard the song Mars on YouTube. I thought it must have been either a mistake, a guest vocalist, or a woman with a hell of a deep voice. When I eventually obtained 1985, I played it first at 45 and it confirmed my suspicions. But wait! The label says 33!
Now confident that what I was hearing was a crooning dude, I began to really enjoy this Akikawabaya stuff. The corny New-Romantic conviction in Tomo's voice as he delivers the fantasy-themed lyrics of Diamond strangely affected me, drawing me in to his no-doubt mirrored and fog-machined world. Becoming hooked on the song, I eventually moved past that sort of tongue-in-cheek nostalgia-loving and developed a full-on love of Akikawabaya's records. This stuff is moody, languid, brilliant minimal synth/New-Romantic music - possibly the pinnacle of it's certain sector in the genre.
A certain mystery develops when one really enjoys these records too. Who is this girl that appears on all the cover art? Her name shows up on the back cover as Rena Anju, credited as model. In fact, Anju is the title of another Tomo 12" from 1985, so did these two share a close relationship? It's possible, but for some reason I can't imagine this attractive woman going for the kind of guy who self-produces his own synthesizer records to complete obscurity. It's possible that she acted as sort of muse. Another curious tidbit is that the 12" immediately following Anju is the only cover that doesn't feature the titular model, but instead a woodcut. This 12" is titled Kojiki to Onna, translating to "Beggar and Woman," which one can certainly read into...
If you enjoy this one, keep an eye on Habit of Sex in the next few days, as I'll be posting Tomo's masterpiece: The Castle!


Anonymous said...

Marvellous 7''// pure genious! Thanks!!


Thank you so much for this. This is absolutely haunting, the kind of music that pierces straight through me. I thought I had a decent grasp on underground music in Japan before coming to your blog, but you post so much wonderful and obscure stuff I've never even heard of, it's almost overwhelming haha.


c.patera said...

Thanks for the kind words. Lemme know if you have any requests or general questions.
Interesting blog you have there! I'll start following... lot's of posts to catch up on...


Anonymous said...

this is hauntingly beautiful:)
could anyone post the lyrics please?

c.patera said...

Believe me, I've tried figuring out the lyrics for years, haha. Your guess is as good as mine!