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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

HARUOMI HOSONO - "Omni Sight Seeing" (Epic, CD, Japan)

In my first long stay in Japan, somewhere in 1989-1990, I purchased this CD, I think, at the music store THE WAVE.   The store was located in Roppongi part of Tokyo, and it was a six-story building filled with music and film DVD's.  It also had an art movie house in its basement.  The perfect home away from home for me.  A few laters I come back to the area and I was shocked to see the store gone - and not just the store, but the entire building as well.  It was just an empty hole in the place of the structure.  It's like a dentist pulling a tooth and just leaving the open wound for the world to view.   I'm just now, getting over the depression of losing such a store and building.  Nevertheless, Haruomi Hosono's album "Omni Sight Seeing" was one of the purchases I have made at THE WAVE.  Twenty-six years later, I'm still paying attention to this album, and when I do hear it, the horrid humid summer comes to mind, that was taking place that summer in Tokyo. 

But to focus on the album, it is very much a travel-log of sorts for Hosono.  It's going around the world with Hosono, or to be even more precise, Asia.   At the time, I never heard an album like this - it is various sorts of music and its history, but through the eyes and sounds of Hosono.  In the West, he's a famed member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), a band that I admire, but not love.  On the other hand, Hosono solo albums are always interesting. He's sort of the Ry Cooder of Japan - in that he's very much a historian of music and its various cultures.  But that is everything from techno-pop to Americana roots music. He works on a big canvas.  If I was to recommend one album for the new listener it would be "Omni Sight Seeing." 

There are traces of John Cage to Middle-Eastern melodies to Parisian tourism to techno to Duke Ellington on this album.  Hosono's version of Duke's "Caravan" is a solid delight.   Accordion, sax, and electronic keyboards is a very good mixture for this tune.   The whole album is very much a variety pack of goodies.  It's traveling without a passport or the fear of security.  The other highlight of the album is "Laugh-Gas," which has to be the ultimate 11 minute minimal techno cut.   Superb entertainment for all!