Boomkat Product Review:
Long-awaited collection of "Ape Escape" composer and Far East Recording boss Soichi Terada's beloved OMODAKA material, a collaboration with Japanese folk singer Akiko Kanazawa. Completely bizarre gear - one part chiptune, one part J-pop, one part '90s house, one part ethno-folk?
Is there anything Soichi Terada can't do? The Japanese composer built a reputation on his knack for composing sickly melodies - just listen to the "Ape Escape" series for proof of that. But he's been just as successful penning innovative cross-genre dance music, releasing a slew of jungle and house-inspired albums on his own Far East Recording imprint. Terada initiated the OMODAKA project back in 2001 when he was attempting to write a boat racing song - the project stuck around and attracted a cult following for its uncompromising blend of video game bleeps, light dance bumps and Akiko Kanazawa's virtuosic vocals.
The best early example of this odd fusion comes with 'Iyano Kobiki', a simple '90s house bouncer that sounds like it could easily have accompanied any PS1-era videogame. But Kanazawa's vocal turn elevates the music to a different tier thanks to her training in min'yō, a traditional folk style that shifted from its original role as work songs or ritual songs into virtuoso performance music. Her vocals are deviously complex to the point of being acrobatic, and alongside Terada's earworm melodies and cheeky video game power-up sounds it sounds as if we're being dropped into a world that's familiarly surreal, and simultaneously alien.
"Zentsuu" is an anthology so it's not surprising how different it is track to track, but the raw concept is always the same. Sometimes the vocal parts are less present, and often Kanazawa's vocals seem to burst straight out of left field, but the album's always breathtakingly bizarre in the best possible way. Just head over to 'Chakkiri Bushi', a robotic interpolation of Anita Baker's 'Sweet Love' that's remarkable in its wackiness. Fourteen of the 18 tracks presented on "Zentsuu" have never hit vinyl before, so you know what to do.