R.I.P. SUSUMU YOKOTA

susumuR.I.P. SUSUMU YOKOTA.
um dos mais influentes músicos japoneses morreu no passado dia 27 de Março após longo tratamento médico com a idade de 54 anos.

PS:Ainda há pouco tempo ouvi e gravei uns temas de Susumu Yokota. Conheci e tive o album “Sakura” na altura da discoteca Valentin de Carvalho.

A trágica notícia foi divulgada hoje com um comunicado lido pela família à comunicação social:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Susumu Yokota, who passed away on 27th March, 2015 at the age of 54 after a long period of medical treatment. We are deeply thankful to the people who listened to and supported Susumu’s music during his lifetime. Please accept our sincere apologies for the delay in this announcement, as we were until recently unacquainted with Susumu’s music industry contacts.”

Susumu Yokota (横田進 ou ススム・ヨコタ) foi um compositor japonês conhecido na cena de música independente pelos seus álbuns de ambient/experimental, embora também tenha tido uma longa carreira como DJ de house music, chegando mesmo a lançar vários cds neste estilo musical.

(July 14) Lo Recordings released the following statement – “Yokota’s music was always completely individual, always esoteric yet never wilfully indulgent. His touch was that of a master craftsman, creating intricate musical jewels that sparkled like no others. There’s no doubt that if he had been in a position to play live concerts his reputation would far exceed many of his contemporaries. He will be sorely missed by those who value quality and originality in music.”

Multi-talented producer Susumu Yokota returns to the ambient realm with the beautiful and diverse Sakura. When he indulges his fondness for pop hooks with his dancefloor material, Yokota’s melodic choices are glossy and extroverted, but his music for home listening is focused, controlled, and deeply internal. His knack for blending traditional instruments like guitar and piano with simple electronics harks back to ambient music’s birth in the mid-’70s; at times Sakura recalls the work of pioneers like Brian Eno, Cluster, and Manuel Göttsching.

Susumu Yokota emerged in the early ’90s as one of the most versatile and prolific electronic producers going. In his native Japan, he was known for many years as a top-tier dance music talent, Yokota released a string of fantastic albums back in the day – his glorious ambient masterpiece “Sakura” from 2000 was probably the pick of the bunch, though there was much to admire in his back-catalogue such as “Grinning Cat” – as he moved away from the house music he was best known for at the time and began exploring more dreamy fare.
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THE LEAF LABEL released six of Yokota’s albums over a period of four years (1999-2002), including three that have come to be considered classics of ambient music: Sakura, Grinning Cat and The Boy And The Tree. Those records helped put us on the map, and are still some of the best selling releases in The Leaf Label’s 20 year history. Their word-of-mouth success was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Yokota barely promoted them, visiting Europe to play live just once in the entire period we worked with him. Yokota returned the compliment by releasing a personally selected compilation of Leaf releases on his own Skintone label (Leaf Compilation, 2001). My personal favourite of his albums was the first we released, Image 1983-1998, a collection of delicate, otherworldly archive recordings.

As well as his ambient work, Yokota was respected for his house and techno music, with releases stretching back to 1993.

I only met Yokota three times, twice in the UK and a third time when I visited Japan in 2001. Yokota drove me (sometimes at alarming speed) through the endless sprawl of Tokyo and Yokohama to the tranquil city of Kamakura, where we visited ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines and an extraordinary vegetarian restaurant (a rarity in Japan) that only served variants of tofu (it tasted immeasurably better than that sounds). Later we visited an onsen (hot spring baths), a real Japanese treat. Though he spoke very little English, he was always a charming and thoughtful companion. A sign on a harbour wall in Japanese and English we saw on the trip inspired the title of a Leaf compilation: “Watch for tsunami when you feel earth quake”, an instruction that would haunt me years later.

Tony Morley

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