Hiroshi Sato — ‘Orient’

The year is 2018. Ed Miliband, having fought off David Cameron in the 2015 general election — armed with nothing but a sock, a BT Landline Telephone and two rather odd-looking pieces of macaroni, in front of an audience of around fifty thousand middle-aged skinheads, accompanied by their archives of Heat magazines, has chosen to retire, aged twelve.

In this alternative universe, things are very different. Families are no longer broken by varying political opinions, generational inequality means nothing, and the word exploitation isn’t included in the dictionary. Ah, this is a utopia, sixteen hour working weeks, paid healthcare, employment opportunities that perfectly suits each individual’s skill set and creativity. This is it.

But rooted somewhere between 1979 and 1981, with one foot on each date, is an LP that is available for all. Ex-keys player for the almost mythological group, Happy End, Hiroshi Sato’s (not the Japanese footballer, nor is he the character from the popular Japanese anime, Avatar) Herbie Hancock styled synth-pop-funk masterpiece, ‘Orient’, has been around since 1979. And since then, it has been claimed to be a precursor to the eighties synthetic music scene, its creator has been tipped as one of the many Japanese Bowie’s and it also has uncanny similarities to an imaginary eighties Disney Pixar soundtrack that revolves around far-east culture. But it is simply much more than that.

It is heart-warming. It is tranquil at the best of times. And it is happiness on a floaty-giant-disc. At numerous moments, it reaches heights of musical experimentation with lapses of synth-funk. It features simple innovation; to mix in the standard crackle of the lead in groove and the dead walk, it utilises white noise to the sound of waves crashing along a rugged coast. And there are odd noises, which, weirdly enough, could have acted as a premonition and then the inspiration for the BBC’s hit children’s TV show, Pingu.

Although it has been a hard record to get hold of, it was never reissued after its original release in 1979, and when plans were made to reissue it via WEWANTSOUNDS, it hit an uphill struggle. Originally, it was due to be released in November, however, it hit some issues at the pressing plant, which led to a rescheduled release, February 2018. And even then, it was delayed by another week or so.

Alas, that trouble is over, and it is here to stay. Best of all, it is not limited to the macaroni wielding Ed Miliband alternative universe. But also, it exists in our sad and demeaning sack of shit world. Which, hopefully, it can turn around, making it into a fabulous Rutger Bregman styled utopia. Here’s to dreaming.

Music and society writer based in Manchester / Zine Creator @ Knee_Xap / araworth.writer@gmail.com / https://www.patreon.com/user?u=27933642&fan_landing=true

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