Five Lines

‘from totally opposite parts of the musical globe’

Dai Fujikura had an early and unusual fascination with David Sylvian’s work. ‘I grew up listening to his music—which is a bit strange, as I was born in 1977. The first album I listened to was Secrets of the Beehive. At that time I was 13 years old or so, and I hadn’t listened to pop music—well, maybe I’d heard it on TV, but I’d never purchased it nor was I interested in any music other than classical. Being a classical musician was my life from the age of five! Practicing every day, doing homework, going to “juku”, which was a sort of “extra school” that lots of kids in my generation attended. So, I had no time to waste, and no time to search in other genres of music.

Secrets of the Beehive, as you know, uses classical instrumentation, so when I first heard the album, it was so easy for me to get into. I’ve bought this album four times in my life, to give to people as gifts. I think David owes me a pint of beer! But the main reason I was hooked by his work was, of course, his voice. The most beautiful voice in the world. I just love that voice.

Continue reading “Five Lines”

Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)

‘where trouble sleeps and the light is found’

In 1991, commemorations planned to mark the 100th anniversary of The Japan Society in London grew into a festival promoting the art and culture of Japan. Celebratory events included Sumo wrestling at the Royal Albert Hall, Grand Kabuki at the National Theatre and an exhibition of Buddhist sculpture at the British Museum. On Sunday 13 October, Ryuichi Sakamoto played a one-off gig at the Hammersmith Odeon. The show began with a recording of a stirring traditional chant which reverberated around the auditorium, a piece we would later come to know as ‘Nuages’ when Ryuichi’s album Heartbeat was released in the UK the following year. His set-list included tracks from his previous solo offerings B-2 Unit, Neo-Geo and Beauty, YMO’s ‘Tong Poo’, as well as exquisite themes from the soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky, The Last Emperor (for which Sakamoto had been awarded an Oscar) and his latest film-music, High Heels.

Continue reading “Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)”

The Other Side of Life

‘a new high mark of maturity’

There were fundamental differences in band preparations for Japan’s third LP. The material for the first two albums, Steve Jansen explained, ‘was performed extensively live before we had the opportunity to record it. Therefore, those albums serve more as a document of what we’d learnt as a group performing together. There was very little recording craft involved, just a lot of energy and influences from an eclectic mix of styles, which were all a part of our early teenage years onwards.

Continue reading “The Other Side of Life”

Zero Landmine

‘a real hope’

‘Lt Colonel Colin Mitchell became famous in the late 1960s as commanding officer of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders,’ explains Chris Moon, recalling his job interview with the colonel early in 1993, as he searched for the right assignment to follow his own service in the military. ‘He set up a mine clearance charity after visiting Afghanistan, where he saw farmers unable to work their land, refugees who couldn’t go home and a Red Cross hospital full of amputees.’

Continue reading “Zero Landmine”

Praise (Pratah Smarami)

bhagavatīstutiḥ – ‘so moving…so pure’

‘I met Shree Maa in the Spring of 1996, when my wife asked me to accompany her to a friend’s house where the saint was visiting,’ recollects Charles Seward. ‘When we arrived everyone was singing, ringing bells and dancing about the room. I thought, “Is this a wild party, or a spiritual gathering?” Trying not to feel out of place, I sat in the back of the room and watched. There were song sheets but I could not pronounce the words which were in Sanskrit. The atmosphere was alive with a kind of infectious loving, joyful feeling. Slightly out of character for me, my hands started to slap my crossed legs, and before long my knees were bouncing, my head waving and my hands clapping. My heart started to open, as the boundaries that separated me from others faded. The whole experience contained a great sense of elation.

Continue reading “Praise (Pratah Smarami)”