Electronic music pioneer Haruomi Hosono will be released for the first time ever outside of Japan. Hosono is a member of the legendary act Yellow Magic Orchestra – Japan’s finest music export. However, Hosono’s own music adventures are perhaps not so well known, but in fact equally interesting and forward thinking. Hosono in his solo works really worked to explore new musical frontiers, so it is with great pleasure that we will now have more opportunities to explore his early works.
Light in the Attic has announced a series of Haruomi Hosono reissues. Five solo albums from the Yellow Magic Orchestra member are set to be reissued on vinyl. 1978’s Paraiso, 1982’s Philharmony and 1989’s omni Sight Seeing will be available on August 10. 1973’s Hosono House and 1978’s Cochin Moon are out September 28. The reissues will include remastered audio, interviews, unseen photos, liner notes and more.
These reissues mark the first time four of the albums have been released outside of Japan, while omni Sight Seeing is set to make its vinyl debut. Visit the Light in the Attic site for more information. Hosono has also announced his first ever UK solo shows, with a performance at London’s Barbican Centre on June 23 and at the Old Market in Brighton on June 25.
Last year’s release of “Vu Ja De”, his 21st solo album, was not met with much fanfare. But for those who know the 70-year-old’s work, his impact can be felt in everything from pop, electronic music and hip-hop to film soundtracks and department store muzak. At this late stage of his career, he is returning to his early influences.
As a teenager growing up in Tokyo, Mr Hosono felt isolated from traditional Japanese culture, listening instead to the American military radio stations serving US forces. Happy End bears little resemblance to the synthesised, bubble-gum pop coming out of Japan today, but the band’s sound—recently described by MTV as “rock with psych smudges around the edges”—paired the cachet of post-war American cool with home-grown influences such as minimal, folky guitar riffs.
In 1978 Mr Hosono made another leap forward when he formed Yellow Magic Orchestra, a synth-pop trio. He was captivated by electronic music originating from Europe, where Kraftwerk were proving that digital sounds could be emotive rather than anodyne. Yellow Magic Orchestra’s eponymous first release sent up the West’s trite imitations of oriental music, replacing lilting percussion with synthesised electronic beats. One track, “Firecracker”, was not only a huge hit in Japan but charted in America and Britain too. It went on to be sampled on hip-hop tracks throughout the 1980s and 90s, and even served as an unlikely underpinning for Jennifer Lopez’s song “I’m Real” more than two decades later.
Yellow Magic Orchestra separated in 1985, but Mr Hosono has remained a performer and a prolific producer, championing experimental artists. He has composed film soundtracks and even a series of minimalist, Brian Eno-esque ambient tracks to be played in the fashionable Muji homeware chain. In recent years, he has cast his eye back to a pre-digital age. Boogie-woogie, the fast-paced precursor to swing that was popularised in the 1920s, is the latest focus of a rediscovery of jazz and pop that characterises his recent releases. He injects a buoyant energy to previously-plodding blues riffs, and his new album has the playful feeling of a live recording.