Amsterdam-based label Sound Of Vast have unlocked the archives of (largely) unsung Japanese house hero, Shinichiro Yokota. Their Ultimate Yokota (1991 – 2019) collects 12 tracks from Shinichiro`s vaults – cherry-picking from nearly 30 years worth of material. Around half of the tunes were produced in the early 90s under the tutelage of Shinichiro`s friend and mentor, Soichi Terada. Issued on a CD a few years back, this will be their first time on vinyl. Likewise a further 5 tracks, completed within the last couple of years, make their public debut. While one, I Know You Like It was released in June as part of the Sound Of Vast 5th anniversary celebrations.
The 90s tracks bear the hallmarks of the times. They are simple. Confined to, and defined by bass, drums and keys. Dancing with the likeminded souls who recorded for Italian imprints such as Calypso and Irma, and New York`s Nu Groove. Key Tronics Ensemble, and Bobby Konders, before he went full-on dancehall. Employing classic disco acca pellas, game themes (Donkey Kong, Pacman, not GTA), hip house raps, even operatic arias. Cut up over rave riffs, beats and breaks.
Sometimes at the cheesier end of things (think Jinny`s Keep It Warm). Sometimes rocking with the rhythms of Dance Mania and Relief Records. Trippy trance sequences, TB-303 and muted bleeps, throwing shapes within Juno 60 b-line-led grooves. Whistle song flutes and skippy garage drums.
The standout for me is Shinichiro`s remix of Manabu Nagayama & Masakazu Uehata`s Sora Sky Magic. Intro`d by what sounds like a shakuhachi, it features the shamisen of Yutaka Oyama. Keys like koto crescendos. The traditional elements drawing comparisons to the fusions found on Juzu AKA Moochy`s Crosspoint. Executed with an enthusiasm that`s all late 80s Summer Of Love.