Haruomi Hosono Titles (Hosono House, Cochin Moon, Philharmony, Paraiso, Omni Sight Seeing)
"After Happy End’s amicable break up in 1973, Hosono released Hosono House, an intimate slice of Japanese Americana recorded at home with a back-to-basics approach akin to Music from Big Pink or McCartney. While his former band helped pave the way for the rise of “city pop” that reflected upon urban themes and city life, Hosono took a 180 degree turn towards the countryside for his highly-regarded first solo album. Located an hour from Tokyo in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, the actual Hosono House was one of several American-style houses originally built for the families of troops stationed at the nearby Johnson Air Base, active during the post-war occupation years. By the early ‘70s this small community had become a hub for creative types looking for a break from Tokyo’s hustle and bustle – and cheaper rent. For Hosono, this was as close as he could get to living in America without leaving his home country. With rooms filled to the edges with recording gear, the house became a live-in studio for Hosono and his crack band – soon to become known as the in-demand session group Tin Pan Alley. The songs on Hosono House display the breadth of Hosono’s talents, from the hushed acoustic folk of “Rock-A-Bye My Baby” and the country twang of “Boku Wa Chotto” to the New Orleans funk of “Fuyu Koe” and the unexpected breakbeats in “Bara To Yajuu.” Lauded by artists such as Jim O’Rourke and Devendra Banhart, Hosono House remains a touchstone of the early phase of Hosono’s career."
"Released in September 1978, a mere two months before YMO’s debut, Cochin Moon is a clear precursor to the groundbreaking synth and sequencer-dominated sounds that would come to define the iconic trio. Credited to Hosono and Pop Art legend Tadanori Yokoo (who created the cover art), Cochin Moon is a fictional soundtrack to a journey into unknown worlds, inspired by Hosono and Yokoo’s trip to India. Initially the album was to be a kind of ethnographic musical document, using found sounds and field recordings made by Hosono himself. Instead, after Yokoo introduced Hosono to the sounds of Kraftwerk and krautrock during the trip, Cochin Moon became something much stranger. Created almost entirely on synthesizers and sequencers with the help of future YMO collaborators Ryuichi Sakamoto and Hideki Matsutake, the music on the album is the perfect encapsulation of Hosono’s concept of “sightseeing music,” transporting the listener to an exotic place that may or may not exist. This highly sought-after album sees its first-ever official release outside of Japan."
"The unbelievably prolific Haruomi Hosono is one of the major architects of modern Japanese pop music. With his encyclopedic knowledge of music and boundless curiosity for new sounds, Hosono is the auteur of his own idiosyncratic musical world, putting his unmistakable stamp on hundreds of recordings as an artist, session player, songwriter and producer. Born and raised in central Tokyo, his adolescent obsession with American pop culture informed his early forays into country music, which he would revisit later in his career. Hosono made his professional debut in 1969 as a member of Apryl Fool, whose heavy psychedelia was somewhat at odds with his influences, which leaned towards the rootsy sounds of Moby Grape and Buffalo Springfield. The latter was one of the main inspirations for his next group, Happy End, whose unique blend of West Coast sounds with Japanese lyrics proved to be highly influential over the course of three albums. After the band’s amicable break up in 1973, Hosono began his solo career with Hosono House, an intimate slice of Japanese Americana recorded inside a rented house with recording gear squeezed into its tiny bedroom. Hosono’s solo career would take many twists and turns from this point forward, with forays into exotica, electronic, ambient, and techno, culminating in the massive success of techno pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), who made their debut in 1978.
Following YMO’s first wave of success, Hosono took a break from the group and, with help from Alfa Records head Kunihiko Murai, established Yen Records in 1982. The label’s inaugural release was Philharmony, a masterwork recorded almost entirely by Hosono himself at his brand new LDK Studio. With unlimited studio time and freedom to explore, Hosono let himself loose with an array of synthesizers and the latest gadgets, from the Prophet 5 to the E-mu Emulator – all listed as “guest performers” in the album credits. Inspired by the possibilities opened up by these music-making tools, Hosono found new ways to approach his songwriting, resulting in a set of songs that showcase his ability to constantly and consistently innovate and create new standards. With ambient synthscapes like “Luminescent/Hotaru” and the abstract sample-based expressionism of “Birthday Party” sitting perfectly in tune alongside pop favorites like “Sports Men” and “L.D.K.”, Philharmony is one of the most well-loved of Hosono’s albums, and a favorite of the artist himself.
Admired by artists ranging from Van Dyke Parks to Mac DeMarco, Hosono continues to forge ahead as he heads into his fifth decade as a musician. With the re-release of his key albums for the first time outside of Japan, his genius will be discovered by a whole new generation of fans around the world."
Following Tropical Dandy (1975) and Bon Voyage Co. (1976), Paraiso is the concluding saga in his “Tropical Trilogy.” The album can be seen as a turning point in Haruomi Hosono’s career, having been newly signed to Alfa Records by label head Kunihiko Murai. Hosono expands on the Van Dyke Parks-inspired tropical funk styles explored in the previous albums, and arrives at a captivating fusion sound that’s at times equally earthy and exotic. Hinting at the breakthrough sounds he would perfect with Yellow Magic Orchestra, Hosono uses synthesizers to provide otherworldly textures and a spiritual undertone to songs like “Femme Fatale” and the title track. On his Caribbean-style take on the Okinawan folk song “Asatoya Yunta” and the synth/gamelan workout of “Shambhala Signal,” Hosono takes traditional melodies and mixes them into his own inimitable stew. Featuring a host of well-known musicians like Taeko Ohnuki, Hiroshi Sato and his future bandmates Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paraiso perfectly encapsulates Hosono’s eccentric worldview that has shaped his solo career, right before his techno-pop project would blast him into the stratosphere.
Omni Sight Seeing
"Omni Sight Seeing, originally released in 1989 during YMO’s initial hiatus, is an exhilarating musical journey around the world as filtered through Hosono’s kaleidoscopic lens. This work stands as a manifestation of his concept of “Sight Seeing Music,” putting his own tasteful spin on the “world” music encountered during his explorations of global cultures. From Japanese minyo and Algerian rai, to American swing jazz and the self-described, extraterrestrial “Ether music,” his eclectic influences coalesce into a sound that is unmistakably Hosono’s, and many consider this album to be the perfect summation of his mastery of pop music forms. Partly recorded in Paris with assistance from producer Martin Meissonnier (Don Cherry, Fela Kuti) and contributions from French-Tunisian singer Amina, omni Sight Seeing includes the mysterious “Orgone Box” (inspired by Wilhelm Reich and Steve Reich), the acid house “Laugh-Gas” (inspired by Rococo and the French Revolution) and the serene fan favorite “Pleocene” (conveying an “oceanic feeling”)."