LP version. The weirdest exploito-pop attempting to fuse western popular music with folkloristic elements of different origins came from the ’60s and early-to-mid-’70s. Among tons of more or less entertaining releases a few diamonds could be found and Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki (1971), the brainchild of French composers Jean Kluger and Daniel Vangarde, is definitely a stand-out production in this field. “Yamasuki” is a fictional Japanese person about whom Kluger and Vangarde created a musical concept story with a black-belt judo-master doing all the battle-shouts and a female choir, the so-called Yamasuki Singers, taking the lead vocal duties. All-Japanese-language lyrics, of course, with strange grammar. At least, it sounds Japanese – that’s all that matters. The music itself is a simmering mixture of typical bloomy late ’60s pop music with a psychedelic edge, elements of funk in the rhythmic department, and some fuzzed-out acid rock tunes thrown in for good measure. The Eastern flavor might just be an illusion due to the language but all in all Yamasuki is a beautiful western pop art vision of Japanese music. In fact it sounds and feels like many contemporary bands and projects that combined colorful power pop with a heavier guitar sound and regional peculiarities, resulting in a simmering sound cocktail with fresh and exciting melodies. Yamasuki comes close to Omega (Hungary), AKA (Indonesia), and San Ul Lim (South Korea), even as an exploito-pop project. Fans of rich melody patterns will have their minds blown by this album. With Latin-based funk and samba rhythms flowing beneath a lush vocal arrangement, as in “Okawa,” Yamasuki is made to abduct you from reality and lead you into some exotic dreams. Well produced and well executed. Close your eyes, drink some sake, and find yourself transported to an ancient Japan as it exists only in your dreams.
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