Review: 'I Know You Like It' - Shinichiro Yokota
In 2014 Hunee sent Soichi Terada an email enquiring upon the possibility of releasing a compilation of tracks from Terada’s own record label, ‘Far East Recordings’. A year later, ‘Sounds from the Far East’ was released through Rush Hour. Its impact with enormous. Music which previously harboured niche, esoteric fanfare was then exposed to the wider community, and it was ravenously consumed.
Far East Recordings has been in action since 1988, it’s sound and aesthetic is instantly identifiable and inimitable. Though the influence from house music from Europe and America is noted, the output from the label has a definitive Japanese flavour. Easy-going, airy and deliriously fun, careful, painstaking attention is discerningly paid to ensuring beautiful simplicity is ensured - it is a meticulous effort to create more using less. It is undeniably soulful and distinct, it is, a scene which has grown in isolation and for the most part, only in the last few years has it found global attention directed towards it. This is the sound longtime friends and collaborators Soichi Terada and Shinichiro Yokota forged some twenty-five years ago, now new articles are awaited with bated breath. One year after the compilation dropped Yokota released his debut album, ‘Do It Again and Again’, which was a collection of productions stretching across a twenty-seven year period. In relative terms, the three years wait for Yokota’s second record, ‘I Know You Like It’ is barely a whisker of time.
The records title track, ‘I Know You Like It’, is akin to the aforementioned ‘Sounds of the Far East’ Yokota and Soichi Terada have manufactured. Conscientious attention has been dedicated to preserving the raw simplicity of the production and though it’s full of jaunty, twirling synth arpeggio’s and effervescent percussion and pads, each element is given time to breathe and be appreciated. It’s carefree, playful and immediately endearing. For an artist who is not fluent in English, there is a beautiful charm to the aphoristic samples he selects throughout the record, they nestle themselves so mellifluously throughout the record that I wonder whether they’ve been chosen for their phonetic qualities rather than any attached meaning and act as perfect layers of instrumentation - there’s not yet been an occasion where the ‘I know you like’ sample has not thrilled me at how spotlessly it fits itself in the tune.
‘Tokyo 018 (Watashi Wa Tokyo Suki)’ - ‘I am Tokyo City’ is equal parts a song which speaks to the city of Tokyo, of which both Terada and Yokota are denizens, and to the pairs working friendship which has spanned, give or take, for some thirty years. As, arguably, auteurs of the genre, it seems fitting that the pair come together on the record on a track which pays homage to their city and friendship with a product of an instantly identifiable brand of effusive production which the duo have constructed.
Timeless is the track on the record with the most incendiary potential on a dancefloor. The drum machine is put through its paces with a layered, busy section of percussion, on the high end the triangle motif from Manabu Nagayama and Soichi Terada’s ‘Low Tension’ is sampled, timeless. The track is ostensibly delightful, albeit a little predictable, until the introduction of the vocal sample hits and adds an entire new dimension to the song.
Fans of ‘Do It Again and Again’ will be directing curious eyes towards the redux of a cult favourite from the 2016 record, Night Drive. ‘Night Drive 2.0’, its 2019 sequel is a more club-centric evolution of the classic. Its evolution is more frenetic, the tempo is raised, the percussion is punchier and the hats are more piercing, but the original motifs are preserved and the same, inimitable Shinichiro Yokota sound is apparent.
Perceptive fans will be delighted to see the record rounded off with three tracks from an extremely rare 1991 white label release, ‘Twin Base, Vol.1’ from both Terada and Yokota. Simoon, a re-imagination of Japanese luminaries Yellow Magic Orchestra’s track of the same name, Lens, and Bass Man are all given a breath of fresh air on the release. The sound is definitively 90’s on the final three, Lens in particular opens in terrific fashion - a string of low pitched bass synths before the sample fantastically declares, ‘break down!’ Bass Man has a classic, Shinichiro Yokota drifting feeling to it. Similar to ‘This Moment’ the tempo is brought right down, it feels poignant, it has touching closer and a tear rolling down my cheek written all over it.
In what I find to be the ultimate testament, I’ve found that when listening to the record I’m inspired to, at first, begin tapping my feet, a pleasant feeling washes over, before long I’m sporting a perennial smile and soon after I’ve begun gleefully cavorting around the kitchen and despite my best efforts I’m completely unable to pin point at which exact moment I’m so emphatically possessed by the music. It’s an incredibly consistent album cover-to-cover and, to my ears, already feels like a timeless classic, definitely one of the releases of 2019.