Shintaro Sakamoto - How To live With A Phantom
Repressed and back in stock:
2012 release on Other Music Recordings
For over two decades Shintaro Sakamoto was the frontman and leader of Japanese psychedelic phenomenon Yura Yura Teikoku. Across their 20-year trajectory, they rocketed out of the underground and achieved massive mainstream success throughout Japan with an always-evolving psych-pop sound that eventually found them working with Sony Music and headlining major music festivals across the country. While the group only ever played a handful of shows outside of their homeland, they achieved cult status throughout the world and saw several albums reissued in limited pressings in the U.S., including Hollow Me/Beautiful on James Murphy’s DFA label.
Immediately following Yura Yura Teikoku’s break-up in 2010, Sakamoto began recording as a solo artist - playing all the instruments, save percussion and woodwinds - and after more than a year holed up in his home studio, How to Live with a Phantom was born. The resulting album is a single-minded exploration of the sounds of 1970s radio pop from around the globe, combining American folk-rock and the evocative Japanese pop music that was influenced by it, but simultaneously referencing everything from French pop to Afro-funk, tropicalia, Krautrock and the lighter side of psychedelia. Most of the songs are built around Sakamoto’s hypnotic electric-bass grooves (he learned to play for these recordings), a crisp drum set and bubbling percussion, layered with dreamy guitars and vintage synthesizers, and topped by meticulously arranged female vocal harmonies, horns, and Sakamoto’s own languid yet deeply expressive lead vocals. It’s an album that’s both sun-drenched and full of melancholy, and while the musical references and inspirations may be clear, How to Live with a Phantom is a wholly original album that will connect to a broad spectrum of listeners. An otherworldly folk-pop masterpiece!