Wewantsounds is delighted to announce the first-ever release of 'Sunrise From West Sea', a mesmerising performance by Stomu Yamash'ta accompanied by Jazz pianist Masahiko Satoh (well known for his involvement in the New Herd Orchestra and his 'Belladonna of Sadness' soundtrack) and Taj Mahal Travellers founder Takehisa Kosugi on Electric Violin. The line up, also comprising Hideakira Sakurai on Electric Shamisen, is a spaced-out improvisational soundscape over the two LP sides. Remastered from the original tapes, the album is reissued here for the first time ever on LP and CDd. The LP comes in its beautiful original gatefold artwork with OBI strip, 2 page insert and a new introduction by journalist Paul Bowler.
Stomu Yamash'ta has been hailed as one of the best percussionists in the world by John Cage. Born Tsutomu Yamashita in 1947 in a musical family (his father was the conductor of the Kyoto Philharmonic), he studied at Julliard and Berklee in the 60s where he honed his skills as one of the most gifted percussionists of his generation, playing both modern classical music (Cage, Morton Feldman, Toru Takemitsu...) and improv jazz. In New York, he witnessed the birth of the New Thing revolution led by John Coltrane which had a profound effect on him and decided him to go to pursue his studies at Berklee in Boston.
There he met fellow Japanese musician Masahiko Satoh who was also studying there. Their friendship led to the recording of the landmark album Metempsychosis for Nippon Columbia a few years later. The album released in 1971 consisted in a "composition for percussion and jazz orchestra" that mixed Yamash'ta percussion and Satoh's piano playing with the full-on sound of Toshiyuki Miyama's New Herd Orchestra in a groundbreaking free improvisation. 1971 was also the year Yamash'ta released his highly-acclaimed 'Red Buddha' solo album which was released in Europe and in the US. Inspired by the Metempsychosis experience Yamash'ta set to recreate the flowing energy of the album in a live setting with a smaller line up. Recorded live at Yamaha Hall in Tokyo on April 18, 1971, just a few days after the end of the Red Buddha recording sessions, The all-night concert was recorded in front of an invite-only audience consisting of friends and musicians. Yamash'ta enrolled Satoh on keyboards together Taj Mahal Travellers leader Takehisa Kosugi, whom he'd met through his mentor, Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Hideakira Sakurai on electric shamisen was also added the lineup.
Edited down to fit two sides of an album that will become 'Sunrise From West Sea', the performance is both hypnotic and ethereal. It starts with Kosugi's distinctive electric violin and develops into a deep, spiritual free form conversation between the four musicians, giving them all the space they need to freely improvise and interact with each other, mixing electronics, percussion, electric organ and shamizen without ever clashing. The interaction alternates between mostly quiet, ambient Eastern meditations and more paced parts, fuelled by Yamash'ta's extraordinary percussion playing. Later known for his involvement in soundtracks for Robert Altman's 1972 film Images - collaborating with John Williams - and Nic Roeg's 1976 classic 'The Man Who Fell To Earth,' and also for his foray into fusion with his group Go, Yamash'ta never reached the creativity heard in 'Sunrise From Red Sea' again. The album was recorded during one of the most fertile periods in Japan where such groups as Les Rallizes Denudes and Taj Mahal Travellers and jazz musicians like Masahiko Satoh and Yamash'ta were revolutionising the Japanese music scene. Wewantsounds is pleased to reissue this key album which had oddly never been reissued in fifty years.