Welcome to ISC HiFi. Explore new records daily from our growing collection of classics and rarities from around the world. Discover the stories behind the records.

“To hear more, say less.”

Our website uses cookies
Read our privacy policy.

I Agree

10 Essential Haruomi Hosono Productions

Written By: 
DM
Tags: 
Share:
  •  

Essential productions from one of the major architects of modern Japanese pop music.

To find an individual as prolific and influential as Haruomi Hosono is almost impossible in any country’s pop music history. His discography is encyclopedic and spreads across sounds and genres. This is true not only as an artist, but as a band member, songwriter, session player and, maybe most importantly, a producer. Hosono’s relentless work ethic and his obsession with creating new sounds mixed perfectly with his deep-seated interest in advancing technology, especially in the 1980’s. For the artist, the possibilities of production became boundless due to the rise of synthesizers and samplers, which propelled Hosono into his most explorative and curious period.

His solo albums from 1982’s Philharmony through 1989’s Omni Sight Seeing might best represent this experimental growth, but we’d like to shed a light on his lesser-known collaborative projects. They too contain his unmistakable signature.

Below, a retrospective on the master builder’s work as a producer during this innovative time, and how it helped further his idiosyncratic musical world.


Testpattern – Après-Midi (1982)

The most sought-after of the bunch is this masterpiece collection of visionary techno-pop and semi-ambient by Hosono via the duo Testpattern. Some lovely monochromatic synth work and oberheim drum machines (instead of a Roland 808, which you’d come to expect from the YMO productions) can be heard throughout this silly, wonderful and forward-thinking record. Hard to choose a favorite, but the deadpan salesman lifestyle tune “Modern Living”, the floating ambient “Ocean Liner”, proto tech-pop “Beach Girl” and the darker grooving “Catchball” are all highlights.

Sandii – Eating Pleasure (1980)

Hosono would go on to produce all of Sandii’s output in the 80’s, but the highlight is her album Eating Pleasure, especially the track “Zoot Kook”. Although a pop song, a layer of atmospherics produces an airy, ambient feel. Mechanical drum programming, synth manipulations, weeping reverb guitar and stunning vocal treatment make this one heady and heavenly piece of pop.

Chiemi Manabe ‎- 不思議・少女 (1982)

Check out our recent write up for more details, but in case you missed it, here is the standout Untotooku” (うんととおく), a must-listen. With its flawless and quirky Hosono production, the work utilizes off-beat delays and a dog bark sound to create a sort of sci-fi dream world.

Interior ‎- Interior, 1982

The short-lived Interior seems to be a passion project for the artists and Hosono. Built on a lot of melodic tinkering and experiments in sound collage that drift through ambient/new age/ and minimal synth-pop realms, the record’s highlights include “Cold Beach” (which is only on the original Yen LP because it was apparently “too weird” for Windham Hill), the pleasant gem opener “Technobose” and the jammy “Giant Steps”.

Inoyama Land – Danzindan-Pojidon (1983)

A hands-down classic of “environmental music” from Japan, Inoyama Land’s Danzindan-Pojidon is the debut by sound installation and scorers Makato Inoue and Yasushu Yamashita. A full-listen piece that’s minimal and melodic, the sonics fully draw you in. Hosono even invented a very DIY effect unit called the “water delay system,” in which he placed four full-range speakers in a fish tank and re-recorded sounds through water. 🙂

Miharu Koshi – Paralellisme (1984)

Hosono and Miharu Koshi spent their lifetimes collaborating, but one of the pairing’s best is ’84’s Paralellisme. Hosono’s more refined YMO synthetic textures and Miharu’s confectionary idol voice at the front of the mix combine to make uptempo japanese synth-pop perfection.

Mikado – Mikado (1985)

Kind of the blueprint for Air’s Moon Safari and 90’s electronic pop bands like St. Etienne, Mikado was the only full-length by the chanson synth pop duo and the only French artist to be released on Hosono’s Non-Standard label. A through-and-through good one, but one mentionable standout is the opener and early single, “Naufrage En Hiver.” Listening now, it’s a pretty incredible work considering it precedes the dominating indie/electronic pop sound of the 90’s by nearly a decade (!).

Urban Dance – Urban Dance (1985)

Not too many people talk about this record, which was co-produced with fellow YMO bandmate Yukihiro Takehashi, but it stands as their only attempt at 80’s boy band pop. “Whisper of My Love,” in particular, sounds a lot like a lost American 80’s hit.

World Standard – World Standard (1985)

World Standard is the alias of Sohichiro Suzuki, one of the two heads behind the band Everything Play (who you may know from their 1988 record Loulou Mon Amour), and is his solo debut on Non-Standard. World Standard takes a more acoustic approach while also embracing Hosono’s learned atmospherics, delving into territories that are at times playful, freaky and beautiful.

Also worth mentioning is their extremely strange music video for “La Suno Kaj Dalio”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyQWIPrOuTo

Tamao Koike – 鏡の中の十月 (1983)

Although produced by all of YMO, you can’t help but hear Hosono’s cadence and influence on this rare 7″. It’s also a great representation of Hosono as a producer, since it’s essentially an exercise in production. The two sides of this work are the exact same song but polar opposites in design. The A-side being the overproduced, big, loud take — almost to the point of abrasion. Added in: Arpeggios, clashing drums, a very mechanical groove that make the vocals stick out a little awkwardly, even isolated, and a bit removed from its computerized context. The B-side is the definition of simplicity: Same song, same arrangement, but a beautiful minimalist reflection. Synthesizer and voice remain, but instead of loud and cold, it’s warm and intimate — an inviting reconfiguration that is simply a beautiful slice of synth-pop.

Related Articles

Sort By
12th Isle
2020
33rpm
45rpm
4AD
5 Selects
7"
99 Records
A&M
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Ace Tone
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid House
Acid Punk
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afro-Cuban
Afrobeat
Alan Ginsberg
Alan Greenberg
Alan Thicke
Albert Ayler
Alice Coltrane
Altec
Amazon Music
Ambient
Amoeba Music
Amplifier
Analog
Anatolian Rock
Andy Warhol
Animation
AOR
Aquarium Drunkard
Archie Shepp
Archival
Art
Art & Design
Art Dudley
Art Film
Art Pop
Art Rock
Artform Radio
Arthur Russell
Article
Ash Ra Temple
Audiogon
Audiophile
avant
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Balearic
Bali
Ballad
Bargain Bin
Baroque Pop
Basquiat
Bauhaus
Bayou Funk
BBC
BBC Radiophonic
Beats in Space
Bebop
Belgium
Bennie Maupin
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Beverly Glenn​-​Copeland
Bhutan Stamps
Big Band
Bill Laswell
Black Ark Studios
Black Jazz
Blaxsploitation
Blue Note
Blues
Blues Rock
Bob Marley
Bola Sete
Bollywood
Boogie
books
Boredoms
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazil
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Bruton Music
Buddhism
Cabaret
Calypso
CAN
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Cartridges
Casio
Cassette
Cats
CD
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Charles Lloyd
Charles Mingus
Chee Shimizu
Chet Baker
Chicago
Choral
City Pop
Classical
Classics
Coctueau Twins
Commercial
Community
Compass Point
Compilation
Condesa Electronics
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cornelius
Cosmic
Cosmic Disco
Cosmic Folk
Country
Country-Rock
Covers
Cult Classic
Cumbia
Daft Punk
Dance
Dancehall
Dark
Dark Entries
David Bowie
David Byrne
Davida
Deep Dive
Deep Listening
Delia Derbyshire
Demo
Dennis Bovell
Denon
Detroit
Devotional
Diasporic Disco
Dick Verdult
Diggin in the Mags
Disco
Discogs
DIY
DIY / Amateur
DJ
Documentary
Don Buchla
Don Cherry
Donald Byrd
Doom Metal
Downtempo
Dr. John
Dream House
Dream Pop
Dreamy
Drone
Drum Break
Drum Machine
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dub
Dub Poetry
dublab
Dubwise
Durutti Column
Düsseldorf School
Eames
Earl King
Early Electronic
East African
EBM
ECM
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Environmental Music
Eric Dolphy
ESG
Esoteric
ESP Institute
Essential Listen
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Event
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Factory Records
Fela Kuti
Field recording
Films
Fingertracks
Fingetracks
Fishing with John
Fleetwood Sound Company
Floating
Floating Points
Folk
Folk-Rock
Fonts
Fourth World
France
Free Improvisation
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Frippertronics
Funk
Fusion
G.S. Schray
Gal Costa
Gamelan
Garage Rock
Garrard
Gems from the Dollar Bin
George Martin
Gilberto Gil
Gogo
Gospel
Grado
Graphic Novel
Grateful Dead
Group Sounds
Guide
Guitar
Hard Bop
Harold Budd
Harp
Harry Nilsson
Haruomi Hosono
Heavy Metal
Henry Lewy
Herbie Hancock
hi-fi
hi-NRG
Hidden Gem
Highlife
Hip Hop
Hiroshi Yoshimura
history
Holger Czukay
Holiday
Hollywood
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
Iasos
IDM
Illustration
Improvisation
In Conversation
India
Indian
Indian Classical
Indie
Indie Rock
Industrial
Ingmar Bergman
instock
Instrumental
International
Interview
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Island Records
Isolation
Italo Disco
Italy
Jackie McLean
Jamaica
James Baldwin
Japananese
Japanese
Jazz
jazz kissa
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
JBL
John Fahey
John Martyn
Jon Hassell
Joni Mitchell
Judee Sill
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Keith Haring
Keith Jarrett
Kid-Friendly
Kitty Records
Klaus Schulze
Klipsch
Kompakt
Kosmiche
Kosmische
KPM
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
L.Shankar
La Monte Young
Labels We Love
Lafawndah
Lagniappe Sessions
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Last Resort
Laswell
Latin
Latin Jazz
Laurel Canyon
Laurie Spiegel
Leaving Records
Lebanese
Lee Scratch Perry
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Lester Bowie
Library
Library Music
Liquid Liquid
Listening bar
Live Performance
Live Recording
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Louisiana Blues
Lounge
Lounge Lizards
Love Songs
Lovefingers
Lovely Music Ltd.
Lovers Rock
Luaka Bop
Mad Professor
Marantz
Marcel Duchamp
Marcos Valle
mbaqanga
McIntosh
Meditation
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Melody As Truth
Meredith Monk
Metal
Michael Franks
Mid-Century
Miles Davis
Milford Graves
Mills College
Minako Yoshida
Minimal
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mizell Brothers
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs
Modal
Modern Classical
Moki Cherry
Mono
Mort Garson
Motown
MPB
MTV
Munich
Music Blog
Music from Memory
Music Interior
Music Therapy
Music Video
Mwandishi
Narrative
Neptunes
New Age
New Music
New Wave
News
Nico
Nina Simone
No Wave
Noise
Non-Profit
Northern Soul
Now Sound
NTS
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
Numero Group
NYC
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
On Screen
On-U Sound
online radio
Organic
Organic Music
Ornette Coleman
Ortofon
Oswalds Mill Audio
Outsider Pop
Overtone Singing
Painting
Painting with John
Pandit Pran Nath
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
Patrick Cowley
Paul Horn
Paul McCartney
Pauline Oliveros
PBS
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Pensive
Percussion
Pharoah Sanders
Phillip Glass
Piano
Pioneer
Plantasia
Plants
playlist
Playlists
Plinth
Political
Pop
Pop Rock
Popul Vuh
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Power Pop
Premiere
Prince
Private Press
Productions
Professor Longhair
Prog Rock
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Prophet-5
Psychedelic
Psychedelic Rock
Psyhedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
Quiet Storm
R&B
Radio
Raga
Rare Groove
rca victor
Receivers
Record Label
Record Stores
Record Stories
Reggae
Reggaeton
Reissue
Reissues
Releases
Remix
Rock
Rocksteady
Roland
Roland Kirk
Roller Skate
Room Recordings
Room Treatment
Roots Reggae
Rotary Mixers
Rough Trade
Rudy Van Gelder
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakmoto
Sacred
Sade
Sam Gendel
Samba
Samples
Sci-fi
Séance Centre
Seefeel
Sensual
Shamisen
share
Shibuya-kei
Shoegaze
Singer-Songwriter
Sisters with Transistors
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Solid State
Songwriting
Sonny Sharrock
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Collage
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
South Africa
South African
South America
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Staff Picks
Steely Dan
Stereolab
Stereophile
Steven Halpern
Stevie Wonder
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Streaming
Street Soul
Studio One
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Surround Sound
Susumu Yokota
Suzanne Cianni
Suzanne Kraft
SYNG
Synth
Synth Pop
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Takoma Records
Tangerine Dream
Tape
Tapes
TD-160
Techno
Techno Pop
Television
Terry Callier
Terry Riley
The Beatles
The Broad
The Loft
The Meters
The Mizell Brothers
The Music Center
The World Stage
Thelonious Monk
Third Side Music
Third Stream
This Mortal Coil
Thorens
Tim Sweeney
Too Pure Records
Total Luxury Spa
Traditional
Tribal
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
Tuareg
Tube
Turntable
TV
UK
Underrated
Val Wilmer
Vanity Fair
Velvet Underground
Vice
Video
Vince Guaraldi
Vintage
Vintage Gear
vinyl
Virginia Astley
Visible Cloaks
Visual Art
Vocal
Vocoder
Walearic
Wally Badarou
Water
Website
Werner Herzog
West Africa
West African
Windham Hill
World
Yacht Rock
Yasuaki Shimizu
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Zamrock
Zither