This morning’s post is devoted to the Japanese graffiti artist turned occasional music video animator Katsura Moshino. Though hardly a household name, and despite the minimal output available […]
Doopee Time: The healthy, mind clearing “Cute Music” of Yann Tomita
“Cute” space age healing music from Dr. Yann Tomita’s Audio Science Laboratory.
It’s Doopee Time! Here’s an essential listen that’s been posted about quite a bit online, but remains something of an underrated cult classic from the CD age (no vinyl reissue yet?). Doopees was a conceptual project and fictional band formed by genius composer and steel drum master Yann Tomita to create the ultimate “cute” album to “keep you healthy, mind clear.” The group released just one full-length studio album on For Life Records.
For those unfamiliar with Yann Tomita aka Dr. Yann aka Dr. Domestic:
One of the great Japanese experimentalists, Yann Tomita was highly influential to Japan’s underground music scene in the late 1980s — 2000s. His earliest credits are on steel drums, an instrument he famously called “the closest sound to outer space.” You might recognize some of the following classics featuring Yann: Ippu-do’s Night Mirage, Masumi Hara’s 4 X A DREAM, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia, and Pizzicato Five’s Bellissima! In 1984, he would expand on the Japanese exotica sound pioneered by Haruomi Hosono on Water Melon Group’s Cool Music with acid jazz, lounge, and dub influences. He produced the first true Japanese rap record, Seito’s MESS/AGE. His later collaborators include hip-hop legend Grandmaster Flash, The Boredoms, Cornelius, Kyoko Koizumi, and Kahimi Karie. The list of accolades goes on and on…
For a deep dive into the works of Yann Tomita, check out this feature on Sabukaru and this Medium post from writer Sam Leach titled The Most Prolific Composer You Have Never Heard Of — Yann Tomita, and the Doopees.
Getting back to Doopee Time… Who are The Doopees? What is a Doopee? Well, those questions can most easily be answered by listening to the music… The 20-track concept album plays out like a sci-fi stage musical about two young girls named Caroline and Suzi, voiced by Buffalo Daughter’s Yumiko Ohno and frequent Tomita collaborator Suzi Kim. Caroline is a young musical prodigy with a case of chronic sadness. At times, she is too sad to sing, and cries while playing Chopin. “Life’s not only about having a good time, is it?” Caroline asks, to which Suzi responds, “That’s right Caroline, life’s not only about being down and out.”
The production is wildly inventive and sort of a space age combination of cut-and-paste tape loop experiments with ’60s show tunes, exotica, Japanese pop-rock, and Brian Wilson / Van Dyke Parks’ Americana. Fond Sound’s Diego Olivas describes it perfectly in his writeup: “Doopee Time, is a special listen, it’s like transporting a young Martin Denny into our time and asking him to make sense of this future, then asking him to portray the next.” Some of the songs are funny, others will make you cry – it’s a total journey of an album, and you’ll surely feel much better after listening…
“When you’re down, you’ve got to realize: There’s a deeper kind of sadness. So, go ahead and sing!”
We highly recommend listening to Doopee Time in its entirety:
Visit Yann Tomita’s Audio Science Laboratory: http://asl-report.blogspot.com/
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