Sunday, 10 June 2018

Yoshio Suzuki ‎– Touch Of Rain (1986)

Style: New Age, Ambient, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  JVC ‎– VDP-1085

1.   Our Sunday Morning
2.   What Do You Do When It's Spring?
3.   From Country To Town
4.   Empty Blues
5.   Shinjuku
6.   A Letter From N.Y.
7.   Touch Of Rain
8.   Sailing In The Blue

Composed By – Yoshio Suzuki

Yoshio Suzuki writes in a way that breaks up my style of writing. You see, I have a ritual I go through when I write for FOND/SOUND. Normally, I put on the album I feel inspired to write about and try to write my post in the allotted time that album runs through. I do so, because I feel like it allows the tempo and rhythm of the music to inform my own writing. So, that in turn I can round back and give you the reader a “feel” of that specific album through my writing. Yoshio Suzuki’s Touch of Rain has me at a crossroads, though.
You see, Yoshio Suzuki’s final album for the Music Interior series has a certain atmosphere that makes me want to trail off, sit back, and pine (for lord knows for what reason) – rather than wax poetic about its creation. Vacillating through crystalline Smooth Jazz, ECM-style European modalism, and barely-there ambient keyboard pings, Yoshio Suzuki’s music sounds exactly like the pictured album cover: mellow, for rainy day moods, without an iota given to the sad connotations of “rainy day moods” – due to the feelings (as heard here) being profoundly weatherproof/different. Plainly stated, this is music for reminiscing and comforting one’s self in. A product of one musician aiming to make beautiful music that favored delicate clarity and precision over complex ambiguity and superfluousness.
If we’re not training ourselves to expect the second coming of McCoy Tyner, we’re justly rewarded with music that sounds, feels, and inspires simple, timeless emotion. Elegant in a way that reading a special book while drinking your favorite wine is, Touch of Rain is grown folk’s music for whisking away time the moment you put it on.
In Touch of Rain Yoshio tweaks the modality of Morning Picture with a scale that’s weighted more towards the acoustic side of the electro-acoustic balance. Touch of Rain also features some of Yoshio’s most profound impressionistic playing. Favoring spacious, sonorous piano or clean electric guitar melodies with dreamy electronic embellishments, Touch of Rain is an intriguing refinement of his earlier environmental jazz music.
Although one get hints of the mannered new age jazz of Pat Metheny or George Winston, Yoshio wisely avoids its tropes. It’s a difference you can plainly hear. There’s no strained technique in Touch of Rain. Rather, Yoshio let’s all these heart-warming melodies breath and stay in focus. I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone, but if anything shows why he is the nephew of the Suzuki method’s creator it’s this attention to compositional detail.
Audiences sometimes need to get lost in that dream and Yoshio (wisely) lets them. Whenever the dreaded instrument of “smooth jazz” threatens to ba-bu-bup-bup its head above all else, Yoshio adds a touch of electronic percussion or a sublime bass or piano chord change to send it back in its place, wisely leaving you in that inner headspace.
For those who can appreciate 40-some odd minutes of impeccable, interior, comfort music, Yoshio Suzuki’s Touch of Rain (I think) just gave me 70-some odd minutes of it  – sorry, I just had to play it again – and now it’s time for someone else to drift away…
Diego Olivas / FONDSOUND

Yoshio Suzuki ‎– Morning Picture (1984)

Style: New Age, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl, Digital, Cass
Label: JVC ‎– JVD-3306

1.   Kane
2.   Dancing Snow
3.   Meet Me In The Deep Meadow
4.   Valpolicella
5.   September Walk
6.   The Bagel
7.   Morning Picture
8.   The Mirage

Art Direction – Pater Sato, Taki Ono
Design, Illustration – Taki Ono
Executive-Producer – Akira Taguchi
Mixed By – Hideo Takada, Jim McCurdy
Producer – Hiroshi Aono
Recorded By – Hideo Takada
Recorded By [Assisted By] – Hideyuki Akimoto
Written-By, Performer – Yoshio Suzuki

A promise tendered is a debt owed. I hinted at more music from Music Interior and here’s my first share. Let’s begin our brief sojourn discovering the albums released by Music Interior with Yoshio Suzuki’s meditative Morning Picture. Who was Yoshio Suzuki? On this album he wasn’t quite the musician he was known to be. Three prior releases and a long list of session work pointed him out to be your standard issue, technically gifted, but straight-arrow Jazz bassist. This is all true. However, on this record you’d hear Yoshio manning all sorts of other instruments – mostly keyboards and Linn Drumm drum machine — to present his own take on peaceful quasi-improvised ambient ambiance music. The album itself sounded unlike anything he’d ever done before. What you should hear is a brilliant mix of ECM-style European Jazz, Eno-like electronics, and that unmistakable Japanese electro-acoustic minimalism. Simply something to drift away my friends. 
Diego Olivas / FOND/SOUND