Artist of the Week: Tatsuro Yamashita

A pivotal character in Japan”s 1980 City Pop genre, Tatsuro Yamashita is a perfect introduction to a sound that described the era. It was known for the country pushing itself forward to become a leader of Asia. As “Back to The Future” explained perfectly, no one expected Japan to find itself producing all the electronics of the world. Captured in Yamashita’s mix of disco, surf rock, and new wave are the sounds of cruising in a car by the beach. The guitar work is slick, the bass is funky to such a superb degree, and Yamashita voice glides over all of this in such a cool persona. Often he is accompanied by backing singers to provide some chilled out melodies both in English and Japanese that stick in one’s head long after they have been heard. The repetitiveness of the guitar in some songs reminds me of the modern day band The 1975 in how the chord progressions are used more as a backing for creating a certain atmospheric sound. In Yamashita’s case, the creation is like one is a surfer on the waves. This music is just so damn happy, you don’t need to understand the words. In Yamashita’s vocals that have the ability to be held out or reach those high notes, the glory of a period of time is felt. Yes I found this listening to the Vaporwave artist Sailorwave, but Yamashita is so much more than a sampled artist lost in time.

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