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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Guernica - 電離層からの眼差し CD, album, Japan (Teichiku Records)

In my year-long exile (1989) in Japan, I discovered this remarkable CD I think at the Wave music store in Roppongi.   I was immediately intrigued by the graphics on this CD, and thought to myself, how can this possibly go wrong?    It's a masterpiece. 

Guernica is a musical project with music by Koji Ueno, lyrics by Keiichi Ohta, and most remarkable of them all - Jun Togawa singer.  She is like every great new wave singer from the 1980s rolled into one body or mouth.     The music is highly orchestrated with real strings, horns, and it's so retro that it's basically an avant-garde pop album.  The album even has tap dancing, which I think is real.  The roots go back to the 1930s, with a touch of Busby Berkeley.  Togawa's vocals are operatic, to small Judy Garland "Wizard of Oz" era vocals to the vocal range of someone like Yma Sumac.  

This is not easy listening music.  It's very much in your face and totally doesn't take any prisoners.  The closest thing I can think of is "Song Cycle" by Van Dyke Parks.   It's a militant aesthetic that looks toward the past but to make something totally new.   This album is totally unique.   Hard to find, even in Japan, but worth the hunt.   I strongly recommend this album to anyone who is interested in orchestrated pop, baroque pop, and experimental music.