Coastlines - Coastlines 2LPBe With Records (UK)
Coastlines is the self-titled long player from the new Japanese production unit of DJ and producer Masanori Ikeda and solo artist, session musician, and Cro-Magnon keyboard player, Takumi Kaneko. Masanori and Takumi have been part of the Japanese dance music scene for years and Coastlines was born out of their working together on soundtracks for video projects. The pair wanted to make laid-back listening music for now, laying Takumi's playful keys over Masanori's widescreen Balearic jazz-fusion to conjure beautiful and breathtaking "coastlines". A couple of two-track 7"s put out in late 2018 and early 2019 on Japanese house music label Flower Records soon sold out. Those four tracks were expanded to a full album of music, "a joyous, relaxing, summery soundtrack for everyone's after hours wind down" that was released just in time for summer. The album opens in the horizontal with the sophisticated, cocktails-by-the-pool groove of "Sunset Reflection". Their re-imagining of Ralph MacDonald's "East Dry River" removes all the original's bells and whistles (quite literally) and re-gears it with a subtle Balearic chug -- a percussive gem. "Coastline" is a beach-jazz noodle. "Drifting Ice" is as chilled and glacial as its title would suggest, yet Masanori's head-nod slo-mo house beats throb not far below the surface. "My Fire" is another soft killer, all swelling, swirling organ over muted kicks and snares. A pair of insistent tunes of the deeply Balearic variety raise the tempo, but not by too much of course. On "Woods And My Guitar" a half-heard vocal refrain breathes life into the synthetic xylophone and guitar. Deft piano-work turns "Half Moon Shadow" into lounge-house for the sophisticated beach bum. The self-assured re-work of Azymuth's "Last Summer In Rio" is arguably the album's centerpiece. Ten minutes of casually propulsive slapped bass, steel pans, and slick '80s soul beats. Cue the steel drum interlude of "Maracas Bay" before album closer "Down Town" transitions one with a shuffling, string-hinted hit of ethereal, euphoric piano bliss. Gentle disco for the new decade. Among the nods to revered Japanese artists like Hiroshi Sato, Sakamoto, and Casiopea, there are also hints of Marcos Valle and Mtume, of the aforementioned Azymuth. "The production though is very much now, not then. Not retro, just proper". Coastlines was originally a CD release only available in Japan, with HMV putting out a super-limited, Japanese Record Store Day vinyl version. Mastered by Simon Francis and cut by Pete Norman, Edition of 500, pressed at Record Industry.