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Audio CD, August 17, 2010
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His debut album in the United States on Antilles (Island Rec.) released in 1976, Benzaiten, was a mix of progressive rock and traditional Japanese music, and was well received in US, captured numerous "underground" radio airplay and sold moderately well, in addition it was released abroad later including Japan.
And the album was chosen as #1 special mention album on the major music trading paper WALRUS at that time.
"One of the year's most significant recordings ..... A true unification of Eastern and Western music, the kind that enhances both .... for breaking new ground .... Osamu must be considered extraordinary." - WALRUS
The song #1 "Benzaiten" was produced by the late Hal Yoergler who was one of the greatest producers of all-time in American pop music history.
This short version of "Benzaiten" does not exist without him. What he has done for Osamu is greatly appreciated.
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Coming from an era when jazz-rock fusion was making headlines and when Isao Tomita made more headlines with his synthesized versions of western Impressionist music, Osamu made his own unique fusion. The short version of the title track (probably a remix of "Benzaiten (Reprise)") blends numerous Japanese percussionists with western funk--very catchy. Despite the combination of electric guitars and drum machines with traditional instruments, the rest of the album feels more serious, and (to this Westerner) very Japanese in character. The slow, almost hypnotic, compositions certainly are neighbors to what would become known as New Age music, but the instrumentation and compositions feel like much more than pleasant background; rather, it is a very successful and interesting blending of musical traditions and styles. In a way, this fusion of a classical Japanese music with guitar is parallel to (and predates) John McLaughlin's amazing and successful work with Shakti, a fusion of jazz with classical Indian music. Osamu is not the same guitar virtuoso that McLaughlin is (well, few are), but his playing here, acoustic and electric, is very well done. His use of traditional instruments seems very respectful and appropriate. No wonder, as the liner notes assert, he was able to entice some master percussionists to this project.
Note that this is a CDR of a fairly short LP. You won't get 70 minutes of music, but it is very interesting music. (I haven't been able to keep up with his work--so many good artists, so little time! But Youtube samples of Osamu's more recent work show he has returned somewhat to this style.)
Lost the record in 1984. Looked for it for years. Found it in the inter net and record wad selling for upwards of 120 dollars or more. No cd. ..till now. And it is on cd. I
am super happy. Gonna buy another copy, just in case. Track number 5 is supernaturally awesome. If the other song the album were total dogs, and the are not, I would
rate the album 5 stars. Tracks 4 and 5 take me to another place and time. Open your ears and soul. Feel this music and be transported to realm of Benzaiten. Totimo edesu yo!