Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Amakudari 1987

"Amakudari (descent from heaven) is the institutionalised practice where Japanese senior bureaucrats retire to high-profile positions in the private and public sectors. The practice is increasingly viewed as corrupt and a drag on unfastening the ties between private sector and state which prevent economic and political reforms."-- from Wikipedia. It is also the name of a group which produced a completely unknown album in Toronto, Canada (by the CBC) in 1987 and disappeared without a trace, although they resurfaced 2 years ago with a follow up. They mixed an ethnic sound with well-crafted acoustic guitars, judiciously using some sitar, with very masterful compositions. The overall production sounds more like chamber music than new age because of the quality of the writing and use of piano and string instrument accompaniment in many places.
Listen to the E minor patterns in the second song, "Childhood yearned" which using the flat 7th and 6th (i.e. notes d and c sharp) perfectly convey the emotional state of nostalgia. As usual a cello playing sustained notes provides the deeper undercurrent of sadness. Suddenly the song will modulate into D minor, then A minor, then G minor, which is what separates it from the usual trancelike stuff which typically operates entirely within one key or even whole songs never stray from one chord. Although the titles definitely seem to suggest new age (shaman, incantation, caves, etc.) we wouldn't hesitate to classify this as progressive music.
"Ghosts of Christmas past" (terrible song title choice) in G minor weaves a melody with major third, minor third, minor sixth, second, virtually every chromatic note is used. In this case a xylophone I think has been brought in to accompany the sitar. The last song, "Whale song" has some nice soft synth waves under gorgeous guitar arpeggios. There is the customary and unfortunate middle section of whale song effects before the previous chords pick up again to finish out. Too bad no reference was made to the finnish, icelandic, and in particular japanese IWC attempts to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling-- thousands of whales are killed and served to schoolchildren in Japan -- although the IWC allows them to be killed for 'scientific purposes'. Although they are well aware of the celebrated intelligence of the cetaceans, not many people out there are aware that the majority of species including the right, the sperm, and the magnificent blue are still very much in danger of extinction. This is not going to stop the aforementioned countries from stacking the deck with political bribes to finally lift the moratorium on whale-hunting, an event expected to happen at the next meeting in a couple of years. By then presumably the insatiable appetite for bluefin tuna (maguro) will exterminate this magnificent animal as well.

Childhood Yearned...

17 comments:

Tristan Stefan said...

http://flameupload.com/files/1A3LNCJQ/Amakudari__Can_1986_.rar

Anonymous said...

chris, you forgot to thank the ripper again

Jigger said...

Why thank you very much for this wonderful album! I had it on vinyl many years ago and never thought I'd see it again. Less than 100 copies were ever sold I think.

A bit more about the band. They are from my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and the album was recorded here and not in Toronto, or if so, it was released here.

The driving force behind the band is a guy named Greg Gardner. He used to work for Winnipeg's best record store, "Into the Music" and used to live upstairs of their building.

He also jammed a lot with former Hawkwind/Pink Fairy Alan Rudolph. The Vancouver Canada born Rudolph lived in Winnipeg in the late 80s and worked at a bicycle shop. I saw them perform on a few occasions. I have no idea if anything ever got released.

Thanks again and have a great day!

Marc

The Cornbread Hour said...

Hi, do you have a track list for this album? Thanks for posting it, it sounds really interesting

isabelbc said...

hi The Cornbread Hour,

cover back here

http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/5844/amakudarisameback.jpg

cheers,

isabel :o)

Tristan Stefan said...

thanks for the info Marc, on the back cover it says recorded in Toronto, though I had heard the band was from the peg. It's such a sad loss for such great music that it came out in only 100 copies, hopefully more people will listen this time around. I really really love this album, it's cohesive, inventive and really professionally played.

The Cornbread Hour said...

Oh gee, thanks isabelbc. I don't know how long ago you posted that, and if you'll see this, but thanks anyway :)

Anonymous said...

Ehr, another dead link... very sorry, it is possible to re-up? Thank you, Mario - Genova

isabelbc said...

new link http://www.megaupload.com/?d=G1YZ7EBH

Anonymous said...

Perfect, all downoaded. Thank you, Mario, Genova

Anonymous said...

Could you repost both the album and the back cover you posted on comments?
Links are down.

isabelbc said...

cover back -> http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/689/amakudarisameback.jpg/

isabelbc said...

new link http://netkups.com/?d=4bfb5807797d8

Anonymous said...

Absolutely AMAZING, Isabelbc.
Thanks a lot!

Nick Nicholas said...

amazing music. any chance of a re up?

Julian Ryan said...

I will post it on my blog in the next few days, keep your eye out for it:
http://progressreview.blogspot.com

Julian Ryan said...

I reposted it on my blog:
http://progressreview.blogspot.ca/2013/11/amakudari-from-prognotfrog-requested.html?showComment=1383480576004#c4055669376803366643

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