Like a small chamber orchestra, clarinet and piano gently improvise around one another as if in a mime or play. Bright pizzicato skips. A big bass drum makes the whole thing dance. Like a meeting of Swing Out Sister`s “Communion” and the Jazz pretentions of Sting`s “An Englishman In New York”. There`s some background to this one. “Let me tell Fairy Tales”.
I think it was Jamie Tiller who found a copy of “On Retinae” in Tokyo, and it was Jamie who contacted me a year or so ago, under the mistaken impression that I also owned one of the 50 (?!) vinyl promos released back in 1989. I`d only managed to pick up the CD, on spec, based on the group`s connection to Seigen Ono (he produced Dip In The Pool`s first LP “Silence”). When I was digging in the city`s 300 yen bins 9 years ago I was limited to a handful of recognizable names such as Ono, Hosono and Sakamoto and a well-thumbed, yellowed piece of paper containing classics cribbed from Snowboy`s Jazz Dance book. The ever-diligent Stu at Emotional Rescue had of course long added it to his Japanese wants list, and the guys at Organic Music, Chee & Dubby, secured one each and a copy for Tako (something is telling me that it was for his birthday but I could be wrong). Legend has it that the album from which “On Retinae” is lifted was initially only available on laser disc, manufactured in an impossibly affluent `80s economic bubble, attested to by the duo`s (Miyako Koda and Tatsuji Kim) perfect Comme Des Garçons catwalk styling and extravagant, romantic Issey Miyake pleats, and subsequently lost like the host of luxury hotels, upkeep now unsustainable, falling empty in high season, slowing holding only ghosts. That may or may not be a wind up but the laser disc was a popular format out here, and the second hand stores still have sizable racks of the things for sale.
I`m so glad that the Red Light Records / Music From Memory guys persevered with this one and managed to make it through the assumed nightmare of dealing with a Japanese major. Hopefully it will pave the wave for the re-issue of more of the country`s sought after gems.
You can order directly here.
Koda-san & Kim-san continue to make music and the press release states that a comprehensive retrospective is on the way.