1983 - 渚にきこえて

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1983. The launch of the Nintendo Famicom, the beginning of the internet as we know it, the establishment of ROYCE' chocolate.

Also in that year, 1983 band leader Shinma Yoshihito (hence the band's name) and I were born.

Although the 80's were filled with technological advances and synthesizers, at that time my father was still watching tap dancing musicals, Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin movies and listening to Nat King Cole/Frank Sinatra. It gave me a lifelong appreciation of things like latin music, jazz, and the big band sound. But if I had been a child on the side of the other ocean, maybe I would have grown up in a household with Kayama Yuzo movies and the sounds of legendary 70's musicians like Minami Yoshitaka and Ozaki Kiyohiko, and I might have still ended up with the same appreciation of mood latin, easy listening jazz and lush instrumentation.

So listening to 1983's 渚にきこえて is a breeze, a gorgeous romantic throwback not to the 80's as you might think, but actually the 70's, when musicians were real, arrangements were rich and sounds were organic. The six members of 1983 are almost all born in the 80's, and they seem to share the same passion for that era’s sound while being regular contributors individually for other groups and artists like Tokumaru Shugo, Siamese Cats and the Hasunuma Shuta Philharmonic Orchestra.

With trumpet, flute and keys, 1983 can do roots, jazz, latin, soul or city pop, they can dial it up for a full sound when required or even change it up mid-song. Led by Seki Nobuhiro's soft and sweet singing, 渚にきこえて is the perfect backing for clumsy dancing under the stars, evening strolls by moonlight, or Sunday drives with the sunlight sparkling on the water. It's all very romantic and easygoing, without being too maudlin or melodramatic (no strings or flugelhorns*). There's always a great balance between the band members, while the lyrics and vocal melodies are important, they often step back to ensure everyone gets a chance to shine and contribute with solos and riffs - the trumpet and flute combo on "夜に歩けば" is especially a treat.

Perhaps your mileage may vary, but as someone who is the same age as the band, there's something really familiar about 1983's sound and in particular with this album. I get flashbacks of the Carpenters/Burt Bacharach, "The girl from Ipanema," Al Kooper’s "Jolie" and there's some actual hints to their musical influences like starting a song with the phrase "Night and day," calling a track Rhapsody in Blue in Japanese, namechecking the Beach Boys. Despite that, the interesting choruswork, dynamic bass and purposeful drumming keep it grounded in the present day.

As their third full album, 渚にきこえて is more focused and stronger thematically than their previous works. Even when they have a proper album intro complete with in-flight announcement or a latin jam like "Hotel Havana," it all fits in with the exotic, romantic mood, recalling a time when parts of the world were still undiscovered and magic was still possible. Thankfully, 1983 proves more than capable of creating magic today.

*Okay maybe just one

Royce Leong