SHINTARO SAKAMOTO - HOW TO LIVE WITH A PHANTOM Vinyl LP
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"Solo debut of Shintaro Sakamoto, former frontman for Tokyo's Yura Yura Teikoku, a powerhouse of contemporary psychedelic rock who gave over twenty years of service, and when they announced their dissolution in 2009, it was unsure where the trio's members would turn up next. We loved it enough to decide to give the album a domestic release. On How to Live with a Phantom, Sakamoto channels an era and sound from 1970s Japan that I'm a bit of a fanatic about often referred to as 'city pop'. The beauty here, though, is that he's taking American influences and re-contextualizing them in ways that Americans seldom pull off due to the lack of distance from the source; he's fusing these sounds because they simply sound great together, and he pulls it off with astonishing results seldom heard since Haruomi Hosono's pre-Yellow Magic Orchestra solo career. It's also worth noting that Sakamoto not only wrote all of the material, he's also performing nearly every note on the record himself, save for percussion, horns, and the chorus of female backup vocalists. He allegedly learned how to play a few of these instruments for the making of the album, and he nails it with the precision of a seasoned session player, knocking things down like a one-man wrecking crew. As sunny and groovy as the album sounds in vibe, the song topics are a whole other ballgame, with Sakamoto's dark-hued lyrics (full English translation included in our edition) dealing with death and despair, but more so in learning how to reconcile those emotions and struggles. It is, quite simply, an astonishing, rock solid, and hugely impressive debut outing for Sakamoto as a solo artist, and one which proves his skills as a songwriter, arranger, and producer. You don't have to be a fan or even familiar with the sounds and history of Yura Yura Teikoku to get down with this album; it appeals to the stoned psych and folk set, the cosmo fashion heads, the worldbeat/international funk diggers, and many demographics in between." - Other Music Recording Co.