Sunday, 17 January 2021

Riuichi Sakamoto ‎– Left Handed Dream (1981)

Style: Synth-pop, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Midi Inc., Alfa, Epic

01.   Boku No Kakera
02.   Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo
03.   Kacha Kucha Nee
04.   The Garden Of Poppies
05.   Relâché
06.   Tell 'em To Me
07.   Living In The Dark
08.   Slat Dance
09.   Venezia
10.   Saru No Ie
11.   The Left Bank
12.   The Arrangement
13.   Just About Enough
14.   Once In A Lifetime

Violin– Kaoru Sato
Backing Vocals – Brigit Novic
Bass, Percussion – Haruomi Hosono
Drums – Yukihiro Takahashi
Flugelhorn – Kenji Nakazawa
Guitar – Adrian Belew
Vocals, Co-producer – Robin Scott
Tenor Saxophone – Satoshi Nakamura
Percussion, Marimba, Electronic Drums, Whistle – Kiyohiko Semba
Programmed By  – Hideki Matsutake, Riuichi Sakamotoo
Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Didgeridoo, Sho, Woodwind – Robin Thompson 
Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Marimba, Electronic Drums, Vocals, Music By, Arranged By, Mixed By, Producer – Riuichi Sakamoto

Of all the Sakamoto/YMO reissues, this is the one we’ve waited for the most. Hidari Ude No Yume (Left Handed Dream) was released in 1981 and is here reissued for the first time in decades in its rare Japanese edition - beautifully remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and sounding better than we’ve ever heard it before, including a 2LP version with a bonus album of instrumental versions pressed on vinyl for the first time ever. 

Recorded during a pivotal period for Sakamoto - around the same time as his stunning ‘Bamboo Houses’ with David Sylvian, and in between two classic YMO albums, 'Hidari Ude No Yume basically sounds quite unlike anything he made before or since its release, a sort of anthology of pop interiors made with hi-gloss synths and unexpected edits, from farm animals to simmering, percolated drum machines. 

‘Hidari Ude No Yume’ was Sakamoto’s follow-up to the seminal ‘B-2 Unit’, and sees him smudge that album’s angularities into weirder shapes that are somehow both more experimental and oddly accessible. The newly available instrumental versions offer previously unheard perspectives on the remarkably detailed production; including an amazing tweaked-out and extended mix of ‘Relâché’, plus a beautifully slippery mix of the album’s best known highlight, ‘Kacha Kucha Nee’. 

It’s a sound that has had countless imitators and acolytes; using the newest Japanese synths, traditional percussion, and his own vocals to create a sort of infectiously rhythmic future-primitivism recalling his work with David Sylvian in the Eastern electro orientation and new wave vocal affectations of ‘Living In The Dark’ and 'Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo’, which also sound incredible in their brighter instrumentals, along with more avant jags into collaged 4th world electro-steppers on ‘Sarunoie,’ and a psychedelic masterwork in the strutting ace ‘The Garden Of Poppies.’

What a record.