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Sakura

Susumu Yokota

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Album Review

Multi-talented producer Susumu Yokota returns to the ambient realm with the beautiful and diverse Sakura. When he indulges his fondness for pop hooks with his dancefloor material, Yokota's melodic choices are glossy and extroverted, but his music for home listening is focused, controlled, and deeply internal. His knack for blending traditional instruments like guitar and piano with simple electronics harks back to ambient music's birth in the mid-'70s; at times Sakura recalls the work of pioneers like Brian Eno, Cluster, and Manuel Göttsching. The icy "Saku" sets the meditative tone on Sakura, with gentle, winding guitar lines, relaxed synthesizer oscillations, and plenty of breathing space for the minimal instrumentation. Beats make their first appearance on "Uchiu Tanjyo," as smooth, semi-tribal hand drums blend organically with the repeating keyboard figures. "Genshi" adds house drum programming to the brew, and Yokota's knack for reflective electronic melody on the track rivals the best of Kraftwerk. Both "Azukiior No Kaori" and "Kodomotachi" use vocal samples to haunting effect, bringing to mind the favored techniques of Nobukazu Takemura without direct reference to machine glitches. The flow is marred by a misplaced jazz cutup ("Naminote"), but Sakura possesses an austere beauty and should not be overlooked.

Biography

Born: Japan

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Susumu Yokota emerged in the early '90s as one of the most versatile and prolific electronic producers going. In his native Japan, he's been known for many years as a top-tier dance music talent, specializing in all varieties of house while dabbling in techno, electro, and trance for the Sublime, Harthouse, and Planet Earth labels. Alternate aliases for his dance releases include Ringo, Prism and Sonicstuff. While his dancefloor tracks are funky and playful with a heavy debt to epic disco —...
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Sakura, Susumu Yokota
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