Hosono Haruomi, Suzuki Shigeru, Tatsuro Yamashita - Nostalgia Of Island

This song, 'Nostalgia of Island', is from the 1990 collaborative effort Pacific, released by what is essentially a supergroup made up of Haruomi Hosono from Happy End and YMO, his former Happy End bandmate Shigeru Suzuki, and the chart-topping popstar Tatsuro Yamashita. Naturally, the result is a coming together of those musicians backgrounds: namely psychedelia, electronica and funk. Yet, the group also show their versatility and breadth of musical interest by exploring exotica, bossa-nova, jazz and lounge musics. The record is aptly named, for probably the biggest influence on its aesthetic is Polynesian and Hawaiian music. This track is a perfect example of what the record is all about; it is playful, exotic, aquatic but, most importantly, sophisticated. Also, watch out for quick interpolation of The Beach Boys's 'Girls On The Beach' towards the end.

Label: Sony 
Year: 1990
Genre: Fusion, Exotica, Electronica, Funk

Profile: The Motifs

It's taken a while for me to write about The Motifs because I've been trying to find words to do them justice! I still haven't got there, but I think it's time to publish something about this special little band. The group come from Melbourne, Australia, and are based around vocalist Alexis Hall, who actually started The Motifs as a solo project back in 2003. Over a series of releases in the 00s, The Motifs defined a sound that is about as close to 'perfect' as I can imagine. A combination of acoustic guitars, cheap Casio keyboards, drum machines, handclaps and shakers makes for the exquisitely warm instrumental base on top of which Alexis's lush vocals sit (although 'sit' may not be the best choice of words, as every component of the music feels so entwined and compatible). Alexis simply has one of the most gorgeous voices I've ever heard - it's hushed, breathy and utterly enchanting. And yet, this isn't a band that focuses on the quality of a voice, or the aesthetic of the its 'sound'. Nope, the lyrics are strong - beautiful, often melancholy - and the instrumental arrangements are far more sophisticated than one may imagine. No one area of The Motifs is stronger than the next, they're a band that's mastered a sound with nothing amiss. This is indie pop at its finest, for fans of Architecture In Helsinki, Camera Obscure, Mutual Benefit, Tenniscoats. If you'd like to hear more, I'd say their sound comes together best on tracks like Night Sky, Envelopes, Tell Me More and Yours & Mine (which I've posted above) - all stunning short pop songs; sweet, infectious and fun.

Label: Knock Yr Socks Off / Music Is My Girlfriend /  Cosy Recordings
Genre: Indie Pop, Twee Pop, Folk, Electronica

Nagisa Ni Te - Premonition

Despite putting out multiple records on zeitgeist label Jagjaguwar, Nagisa Ni Te (渚にて) have remained criminally overlooked over the course of their career. Affiliated with Maher Shalal Hash Baz, the Japanese couple make breezy indie pop that sounds like the junction between their aforementioned contemporaries, as well as 90s alt-rock and 60s psych-folk. I guess that essentially means they sound like The Pastels or, more specifically, the incredible Pastels/Tenniscoats collaboration record from a few years ago. Which would make sense, as Nagisa Ni Te have also released music on Stephen Pastel's continent-crossing Geographic label.

Label: Jagjaguwar 
Year: 2008
Genre: Indie Pop, Psychedelia, Folk Pop

Nancy Leticia - Would U Like Some Flan

Nancy Leticia is a pianist based in Vancouver whose music inhabits - but seamlessly blends - two different worlds. A formally trained pianist, she's posted videos of herself playing Chopin, Satie and Scriabin on YouTube. Yet, the music she composes herself is electronica in a similar vein to producers like Hot Sugar (who she's collaborated with in the past). Her music embraces net art, Classicism and Hypermodernism and the combination of classical influences with internet-age means produces something really beautiful; her piano playing is elegant and fluid, but the musical aesthetic belongs in the considerably 'kitsch' world of the internet. This track, 'Would u like some flan', is a perfect example of her work - an aesthetically gorgeous piece, whose lush synthesisers and modest beat build slowly and warmly.

Label: n/a
Year: 2014
Genre: Electronica, Classical

Selomon Shibeshi - Fikre Tetchawetchi

This track from Ethiopian jazz musician Selomon Shibeshi is dressed to kill; it is bold, slick and holds a real tight groove. Typically of Ethio-Jazz, the rhythm of the track evolves around hypnotic polyrhythms. Harmonically, obvious comparisons can be made to Gétatchèw Kassa or the 'pioneer' of Ethio-Jazz, Mulatu Astatke. Unlike those two prolific artists however, Shibeshi seems to have only released two songs - on a single that sells for all of £200+. That, or he's released a load of other records that I embarrassingly can't track down.

Label: Philips
Year: 1974
Genre: Ethio-Jazz, Funk

Harpers Bizarre - Come To The Sunshine

Despite working with Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman, Harpers Bizarre are a rather obscure name in 60s pop terms. They released a few records between '67 and '76 but never seemed to 'make it' in the way that many of their more memorable contemporaries did. Still, they put out some great tracks, thanks to the songwriters they worked with and their choice of cover versions. Written for the band by Van Dyke Parks, 'Come To The Sunshine' is a typical Sunshine Pop song, with jangly guitars, vocal harmonies and a heavily orchestrated arrangement; woodwind, strings and brass all put to use here. I've been a big fan of this track for a couple of years and although I probably prefer Van Dyke Parks's recording, I'd say this version captures the 'swinging 60s' better.

Label: Warner Bros.
Year: 1967
Genre: Sunshine Pop, Baroque Pop

Resonance FM 9/4/14

Last night's Resonance show was the final Dig That Treasure radio show for the foreseeable future. Of course, I'll try and launch a new series at some point, regardless of whether it's on the wonderful Resonance 104.4FM. But for the time being the show's over, folks! I ended with a bang though, playing some of my favourite treasures, including: soulful art-rock-synth-pop (Adrian Knight), video game jazz (Asuka Sakai & Yu Miyake), Japanese indie-pop (Three-weeks-old Lovesick Puppy), a piano-playing nun (Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou), casiotone spoken-word (The Mennonites), 60s Northern Soul (The Groove) and finally the first song I ever posted on this blog, a special rarity from a very famous punk outfit (The Stranglers).

Dig That Treasure (9/4/14)
Adrian Knight - Pedini Cabinets
Asuka Sakai & Yu Miyake - Overture II
Three-weeks-old Lovesick Puppy - Empty Park
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou - Presentiment
The Mennonites - If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Right Now
The Groove - Love, It's Getting Better
The Stranglers - My Young Dreams

Brenda Ray - D'ya Hear Me!

Brenda Ray is a musician who put out various releases in the 1970 and 80s, in and around Cheshire. While much of her work was heavily dub and reggae influenced, this track is a raw new-wave rarity, not unlike tracks I've posted on the blog or played on my radio show before by Warfield Spillers, Mag & The Suspects or Trixie's Big Red Motorbike. It's a lovely track; jazzy and sugary, yet somewhat dissonant.

Label: EM
Year: 1979
Genre: New-Wave, Experimental, Dub, Post-Punk

Shankar Jaikishan - Title Theme From Bombay Talkie

Shankar Jaikishan were a duo of composers (Shankar Raghuvanshi and Jaikishan Panchal) who composed music for the Hindi film industry from the 1940s right up until the 70s. Jazz (or jazz influenced music) gets its fair share of coverage on this blog, so it's worth mentioning that these guys are credited with pioneering 'Indo-Jazz'. Their melodies have been described as "everlasting" and "immortal" and this theme from the film Bombay Talkie is no exception, a familiar and yet curious melody; charming, mellow and memorable.

Label: ?
Year: 1970
Genre: Indo-Jazz, Raga, Folk

Dig That Treasure 2/4/14

Wednesday's Resonance show was the penultimate Dig That Treasure. It's been a great run and I'm deeply sad to be ending, but next week's final show will be special! That's not to say this week's wasn't; I span Indonesian garage rock, Caribbean outsider music, and a couple of tracks from Nick Drake's mother.

Dig That Treasure (2/4/14)
Dara Puspita - To Love Somebody
Superstar & Star - I Ain't Missing You
Shankar Jaikishan - Title Theme From 'Bombay Talkie'
Selomon Shibeshi - Fikre Tetchawetchi 
Molly Drake - Happiness
Molly Drake - Never Pine For The Old Love
Television Personalities - Wonder What It Was