Admittedly I knew nothing about Shintaro Sakamoto when my wife Katie found herself smitten with the cover art for How To Live With a Phantom, on display on the ‘new releases’ wall at AKA Music in Philadelphia last weekend. The black & white cover image—tinted ghostly green—of Sakamoto (leader of Japanese avant noise outfit Yura Yura Teikoku No Memai) posing with a mannequin has a very deliberate, immediate quality to it, with him looking like a Greenwich Village bohemian art-punk circa 1978 (with an addiction to styling products instead of heroin). So it wasn’t a difficult decision to roll the dice on some new, unknown music.
The music contained inside has the same deliberate immediacy, evoking a musical dream of the 1970s, where yacht rock, disco, samba, and smooth jazz are treated with fascination and reverence in equal measure. On “You Just Decided,” I’m reminded of Cornelius’ similarly wonderful Point album from ten years back or some of The Sea and Cake’s poppier moments. Very cool sounds for long summer days.