Review

Hako Yamasaki

Tobimasu

We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want • 1975

Who is Hako Yamasaki?  As an individual who grew up in western society, there is hardly any shame in not knowing the name of the Japanese artist who sings so movingly on this reissue of her 1975 début album.  But you have to be grateful to the gentlemen of We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want from Geneva, Switzerland, for reissuing »Tobimasu«.   

Hako Yamasaki was an only 18-year-old girl when the original label Elec released these eleven tracks, but on the reissue she sounds as if she had already spent half a lifetime performing on the stages of stuffy concert bars.  Not because there is something worn out about her voice – which more than just a few people reinterpret as a necessary characteristic for artistic credibility in the folk and songwriter business – but because Yamasaki shines vocally on every single number, conveying an emotional depth with a somnambulistic routine that is almost impossible to grasp.  

Whether on »Kazaguruma«, »Hashi Mukou No Ie« or the pathetic »Sayonara No Kane« with its lachrymose electric guitar solo, the singer shoulders every single number reliably and cloaks it in an atmosphere of abandonment, sadness, tragedy.  The grandiose »Sasurai«, which according to a quick Google search can be translated as »wandering alone in a strange country«, more or less sums up the whole record.  The tragedy she conveys with her voice did not stop at Yamasaki’s career either:  When folk and its ilk became more uncool, she was left on the verge of homelessness for a while.