Sample of The Week #2 – Mai Yamane

Check out this melancholy number from Japanese singer Mai Yamane in this weeks' sample of the week.
Welcome to the 2nd post in the sample of the week series! This week’s pick is Tasogare by Japanese Singer-songwriter Mai Yamane (b.1958). It was released on her 1980 album たそがれ (Tasogare).
Any watcher of Cowboy Bebop will instantly recognize Mai Yamane’s voice from her work on the OST. The Real Folk Blues by Mai Yamane & The Seatbelts closed every episode of the anime.
But enough of that, on to the song proper. As an avid listener of citypop, eventually the algorithm starts throwing out some deeper cuts past the typical shiny veneer of 80s pop. Among many of these somber Japanese cuts you’ll find Tasogare.

The English translation of the song is Twilight. This completely captures the feel of the song. This is one of those tracks that really encapsulates the mood of dusk or a lonesome evening watching the sun set. This song oozes melancholy.

The keyboard builds up the opening of the track, under cut by the sound of wind. The wind gradually fades away and the bass and drums join in after the keyboards swell. Right after that one of the smoothest guitar riffs glides over all. This part is ripe for sampling. Once Mai starts singing you’re already riding the bass groove and feeling the vibe between her words. The palm muted electric guitar is bring serious funk energy filling the background as Mai sings her heart out. The electric piano also cuts in throughout the track adding a tremendous layer of mellow. At the 3:36 mark a wicked guitar solo (possibly) played by Makoto Matsushita (or Hiroshi Narumi) fully enamors the listener with such a clean tone that I think my room got cleaner just by listening to it.

I say possibly because the production credits for this album are a bit unclear when it comes to who played what on each track. The first bass credit is given to Getao Takahashi. Drums are credited to 4 people, first being Masahiro Miyazaki, and a few others. Same with keyboards.

Even though I couldn’t find out who played what which is sadly the case for a lot of session musicians, they did a bang up job crafting this track. From Mai’s soaring sorrowful vocals to the jazz-funk backing instrumental, Tasogare is a beautiful track. Clocking in at 6 minutes, it hardly feels like it. The track is so smooth that I had a hard time not listening to it on repeat. Much like the track opens it closes with the sound of wind. The instrumental drops away to focus on the lonely sound of a wind gust. Perfect for your next chopping session or just listening pleasure.

For the curious out there the English lyrics are on this site.

Tune in next week for the next SOTW!



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