Yasuaki Shimizu – Kiren LP


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By the early 1980s Yasuaki Shimizu had established himself on the Japanese new wave scene, producing many important experimental pop records and releasing several albums as the bandleader of Mariah. Following the release of his widely regarded solo classic Kakashi, from 1982, and the otherworldly Utakata No Hibi, by Mariah in 1983, he went into the studio the following year with frequent collaborators, producer Aki Ikuta and Morio Watanabe (bassist of Mariah), to record a mystifying collection of experimental dance music. Utilizing cutting-edge technology and studio trickery, Kiren showcases Shimizu’s trademark playfulness, marrying richly layered production techniques to off-kilter, sometimes traditional sounding rhythms and melodies. Portending his work with the Saxophonettes as well as forecasting trends in techno, new wave, and futuristic rhythmic music, this formerly lost album represents an important period of Shimizu’s artistic expression, an artist at his peak, while successfully exploring the intersections of fusion, synthpop, new wave, and jazz.

As Chee Shimizu (no relation) writes in the liner notes, Kiren, and his concurrent release Latin were “born out of a free environment of collaboration that existed between Yasuaki and Aki Ikuta … (exemplifying) his most energetic works.” In listening to Kiren, we might share with Yasuaki Shimizu the joy and excitement of experimentalism and movement that went into the making of this album, now released for the first time many years later.