This post is going to contain some Japanese characters. If they don’t display correctly for you, don’t worry too much, I’ll be putting Latin readings of the characters after each set of them. Although, you might want to look into enabling Asian characters in your browser and Operating System.
Previously when I’ve written about music suggestions, I’ve recommended bands based on their entire body of work, based on an interesting take on a genre or based on a single track. Today, however, I’m going to recommend some music based on an album.
Jazzin’ Park is the name of a pair of Japanese artists: Kurihara Satoru (栗原暁) Kubota Shingo (久保田真悟) who are signed to the Konami record label. They write and produce music across many genres, including: House, Rap, Hip-Ho, Jazz and Nu-Jazz.
Kuriahara is a DJ, Composer, Producer and singer; Kubota is a Guitarist, Producer, Composer and Vocalist. They have been working together, as Jazzin’ Park, since around 2006 and, as is often the case with Japanese house music artists, they quite often collaborate with singers and rappers.
We Are Together
In 2007 We Are Together was released, containing one remixed song with completely new lyrics: Long Time Ago was originally released on their first album (Jazzin’ Park, released in 2006) with Japanese vocals provided by Arlie. The version on We Are Together is a remix with English vocals provided by Stephanie Cooke.
We Are Together has a Latin/Nu Jazz flavour to it, rather than it just being standard House music. Betraying it’s December release, it’s always felt (at least to me) a very summery album; the tracks Perfect Blue and Summer Love feeling like they should have been big club hits during the summer of 2008.
The album contains a cover of the song You Are (originally by Niteflyte, a Disco band from the 1970’s, famous for their hit “If You Want It”). Perfect Blue was used as the opening theme for the anime Dreadnought – The Resonance; Prism and Dream Bird were used as the opening and closing themes (respectively) for 12人の優しい殺し屋 side R (a 38 part radio drama broadcast from April 2008 to March 2009).
Summer Love/Long Time Ago/Troubled Hands
By far, my favourite section of the album (if it can be split into sections?) is the trifecta of Summer Love, Long Time Ago and Troubled Hands.
Summer Love is a song that reeks of early 90s slow RnB (and that’s not a bad thing); from it’s opening electric piano line which is complimented by the bass line, all the way to the falsetto repeats of “Summer Love” at the end of the song.
Long Time Ago is a fantastic House remix of a Latin-eqsue Nu Jazz hit from the previous year. The re-recorded English lyrics seem to fit better with the new sound. The original Japanese lyrics are very good, and the performance is great, but it wouldn’t have fit with the slightly punchier sound that the remix goes with – which has more of an American house music feel to it.
Which leads me to Troubled Hands. Troubled Hands is a perfect example, in my opinion, of how to combine hip-hop and the sound of a jazz trio. It has a fantastic sound, and the rapping is mixed at the perfect volume to compliment the music. Skahlah (of Life Penciled Crew) performed the rap, which is about the mediocrity of modern life, the modern work ethic and the irony involved in it all:
Mired in the mediocrity,
Enough to get by fine,
But not enough to exercise authority,
Mired in mediocrity,
I’m working a 9 to 5,
But the bank close at 3,
Man, it’s irony.
I would definitely recommend this album, and Jazzin’ Park in general, based on these three tracks alone. I’ll leave an embedded YouTube link below, give it a listen and leave a comment or something.
Here’s a link to Jazzin’ Park’s official website, should anyone be interested enough to want to find out more: [LINK]