For a Japanese label, Mule Musiq have put together an incredible catalog of leftfield techno and inventive dance music and have done so, remarkably, without favoring music from the land of the rising sun. Since 2000, they’ve given us classic records by DJ Sprinkles, Henrik Schwarz, Optimo and DJ Koze when they could have easily made a killing simply by issuing the troves of homegrown obscurities in their own record collections. In recent years, they’ve stood by while nascent American and European imprints have licensed holy grail Japanese house, funk, disco and ambient records (which we’re certainly not mad at!), and they’ve decided that now is the time to get in the game and put their own spin on it. This collection of rare Nippon disco and boogie is compiled by Mule Musiq boss Toshiya Kawasaki, who apparently felt so strongly that he christened a new offshoot to deal with these archival releases: Studio Mule. Aside from the obvious lyrics, and maybe the austere perfectionism of the tracks, there isn’t much about these songs that screams *Japanese* - this is just straight-up banging disco, any way you slice it. Check out the stepping jazz fusion of “Silver Spot” by a 19 year old Nobuyuki Shimizu, or the slick machine funk of “Samba Night” by Piper. Hitomi Tohyama’s bilingual “Love Is The Competition” is the would-be Garage classic that Larry probably never had the privilege of hearing. Some of the tracks wear their influences on their sleeves; “Koiwa Saiko (I’m In Love)” by Aru Takamura sounds eerily similar to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” (Japan's love for this record truly is real), and Honma Express’ “What The Magic Is To Try” is the long lost Herbie Hancock vocoder joint you didn’t know you needed in your life. Haruko Kuwana turns Japanese soul classic “Akogareno Sundown” into a lush & syrupy late nite groove, another major highlight. Thank your lucky stars for these 13 tracks, each one rarer than the next, remastered by Kuniyuki Takahashi and spread across four sides of vinyl. Recommended.
- double vinyl pressing
- music label: Studio Mule 2018
reviewed by sunrise mart 02/2018