But why do I notice everything? She thought. Why must I think? She did not want to think. She wanted to force her mind to become a blank and lie back, and accept quietly, tolerantly, whatever came.
— Virginia Woolf, The Years (via kyokus)
Japanese Girl is one of the most accomplished, fascinatingly hard to classify debuts I’ve heard. Avant-garde, folk, jazz, pop, reggae - just a few of the terms thrown at this album. A child piano prodigy, Akiko’s burgeoning career drove her out of high school to write this and her followup at age 19.
Nearly every track is a classic (the not even 3-minute “Denwasen” is considered a masterpiece) - with rhythmic complexity that baffled her more experienced backing band, Little Feat, and continues to surprise listeners even today. Strings enshroud songs like “Hekoriputaa” in mystique, sometimes disorienting in their surprise timing and intimacy (“Futa”, a woefully short song named after her child). The LP “was influenced by Japanese traditional music,” she says. “There’s a tendency to contain everything you’ve learned [on a debut]. That record had everything.”
The bizarre yet seamlessly interwoven mix of elements signifies how her career would continue to evolve. This uproarious song was the end of the album, but the start of many anthems she would create relentlessly, bending genres and collaborating with some of the biggest names in each of them (most significantly YMO), while remaining relatively unknown internationally herself.