Song of the Day: Yasuaki Shimizu “I’m Dying For Love”
Fusing synth-pop with traditional Japanese music, Yasuaki Shimizu‘s “I’m Dying For Love” is a left-field classic in his native Japan. Appearing on his wonderful 1988 LP, Dementos, the track comes from amid a multi-album purple patch enjoyed by Shimizu that stretched across a number of venerable labels including much sought after Japanese label: Better Days, respected Belgian indie label: Crammed, and obscure Japanese label: Invitation.
“I’m Dying For Love” opens with an English language poetry recital over a strange, ambient drone, before the backing track kicks in. Shimizu, who came to prominence in Japan as a bandleader and saxophonist for the ’70s and ’80s indie-rock group, Mariah, only includes a little of his signature horn here. When it does show-up, it is highly electronically processed (think Jon Hassell‘s trumpet treatment) and recalls Hassell‘s fourth world musical experiments.
The track is fleshed out with some gorgeous hand percussion, synths, and muted guitar stabs. Shimizu is in great voice here, singing in his native Japanese and accompanied by female back-up vocals. This feels like deeply soulful, low-key music. Despite the linguistic barrier, Shimizu conveys a deep sense of longing while also creating a vibrant electro-organic soundscape.
Shimizu is an artist with an incredible diverse back catalogue, ranging from left-field synth pop like this, to jazz-fusion, to neo-classical to ethnographic interpretations to straight indie rock. He remains a real gem of the Japanese underground and at the age of 65, shows no sign of slowing down.