Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi is Left Ear Records 25th release – ‘Hakodate Lady’ mutates Japanese enka genre into darker and abstract versions – a fitting celebration for a wonderfully diverse label

We love Minoru Fushimi and his unique approach to music in the early 1980s – check out his interview with us after his In Praise of Mitochondria compilation was released in 2017 on Left Ear Records – now his catalogue is being revisited for the 25th release on this fantastic label, with a special 7″, Hakodate Lady.

Speaking to WTM, Minoru explains what was happening then: “Those days in Japan the music trend was “New music”, as they were different from “Kayoh-kyoku” (Japanese pop music ) which had been popular till then. Actually they were Japanese copycat version of western pop music (mainly rock and folk), and I hated the naming as well as such music. The music sounded boring to me and the reason why I hated the naming is that I didn’t think they were new at all. And I didn’t like that the older Japanese pop music especially “Enka” was just old and out-of-date. Because some Enkas were originally the mixture of some old Japanese traditional musical essence and western pop music. And they were not the copycat but very nicely mixed music. And there was a time of “Group sounds “, which was Japanese rock type of more contemporary music before the “New music” trend in Japan. (I loved many of them and my fav band was the Mops). So I decided to create a contemporary version of my fav Enkas.”

Chris Bonato, at Left Ear Records, adds: “To mark our 25th release, we’ve decided to revisit the work of singular Japanese musician Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi. In 1983, a young Minoru was working from his home studio in Japan’s Kanagawa prefecture and determined his first release would be an ode to Japan’s musical heritage. Minoru had noticed the younger generation become increasingly disillusioned with traditional enka songs and decided to breathe new life into the sentimental ballads of old. The multi-talented artist laid down the beat using a TR-606 and played all the additional instruments himself.

“The resulting tracks are two mutations from the energetic style of the originals into much darker and abstract versions, albeit managing to maintain the passion and spirit of the enka genre. Minoru utilised a number of vocal distortions to honour the original vibrato singing style, executing the tracks in a way that was more of a mesh between early punk squelching of the late 70’s and Troutman’s funk-fuelled voice-box of the early 80’s. In true Minoru style, his vision overshadowed the accessibility and ironically the tracks fell short of their appeal to the younger generation he was aiming to inspire, yet resulted in two timeless renditions.”

Good luck tracking one of these down, they’re limited to 250 copies and have already sold out on pre-order.

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