Motohiko Hamase - Intaglio LP
Label: Studio Mule
Studio Mule present a reissue of Motohiko Hamase's Intaglio, originally released in 1986. Currently the rediscovery of long-forgotten Japanese electronic, jazz, and new age music is at a peak like never before. Although many reissues have already hit record stores, the large, diverse musical culture of Japan still got some gems in store that are really missing. For example, the work of Japanese bass player, new age and ambient musician Motohiko Hamase. When the now 66-year old artist started to be a professional musician in the 1970s, he quickly gained success as a versed studio instrumentalist and started to be part of the great modern jazz Isao Suzuki Sextet where he played with legends like pianist Tsuyoshi Yamamoto or fusion guitar one-off-a-kind Kazumi Watanabe. He was also in the studio when legendary Japanese jazz records like Straight Ahead of Takao Uematsu (1977), Moritato For Osada of jazz singer Minami Yasuda (1978), or Moon Stone of synthesizer, piano, and organ wizard Mikio Masuda (1978) were recorded. In the 1980s Hamase began to slowly drift away from jazz and drowned his musical vision in new age, ambient, and experimental electronic spheres in which he incorporated his funky meditative way of playing the bass above airy sounds and arrangements. His first solo album Intaglio is not only a milestone of Japanese new age ambient, it is also a fresh sonic journey in jazz that does not sound like jazz at all. First issued by the Japanese label Shi Zen, the record had a decent success in Japan and by some overseas fans of music from the far east. With seven haunting, stylistically hard-to-pigeonhole compositions, Hamase drifts around new age worlds with howling wind sounds, gentle bass pickings, and discreet drums that mind remind listeners of the power of Japanese taiko percussions. Also, propulsive fourth-world-grooves call the tune and all compositions avoid a foreseeable structure. At large his albums seem to be improvised and yet are deeply composed. Music that works like shuffling through an imaginary sound library full of spiritual deepness, that even spreads, in its shaky moments, some profound relaxing moods. The release marks another highlight in Studio Mule's mission to excavate neglected Japanese music that somehow has more to offer in the present age than at the time of his original birth.