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SYOKO「SOIL」~album Talk~ 02


side A


Criminal Shuffle

Sphinx In The Night

side B


Sunday Never Comes


Looking through a stack of some of my go-to records, I came across「SOIL」by Syoko (originally lead singer for the Japanese goth band G-Schmitt) from 1986. The dark & brief LP is a collaboration between Syoko & Hisaishi Joe, who these days, is mostly known for composing the scores for many Studio Ghibli films. I had first heard of him when I came across the OST for Robot Carnival, which is a cool 80's collection of anime shorts about robots. His old work is definitely worth exploring. This is Syoko's debut album as a solo artist and it makes a bold statement right from the start.

I discovered this record while digging at a pop-up in LA that "RECORD SHOP rare groove" (a cool record store in Osaka) was selling vinyl at. I've dug at the rare groove shop when I was in Osaka a couple years ago and ended up with some amazing anime soundtracks, pop stuff & fusion LPs. Their ¥300 bin is also top notch. All of that aside, it was a special thing to find this unique favorite of mine here in LA on some random Saturday afternoon.

The opener on side A is "Erewhon" and it immediately reveals the dark vibe of this album: A metal shape covered in spider-webs & splashes of color from the production/Syoko's wonderfully harsh vocal style. The Siouxsie/Kate Bush comparisons come easy, but Syoko''s style is more bleak in that just as soon as you're feeling comfortable or scorched in flames, you're suddenly drenched in cold water or abandoned in a black space.

"Criminal Shuffle" is sung in English and Syoko's intense vocals highlight the evil pace of the song. The instrumental for the track sounds like Hisaishi Joe's more industrial flavored work that I was familiar with before hearing this album. It has a very cool ending.

"Sphinx In The Night" is a slower tempo track with a beautiful instrumental that closes side A. The mood of this song should appeal to people who enjoy old school video game and anime OSTs.

Side B opens with "MAGIE", an excellent track with a rhythmic collage-style production that elevates everything going on. Probably the "darkest" sounding track on the whole record, if that's what you're looking for.

The next track is an electric bossa nova tempo number called "Sunday Never Comes". More amazing synths & production from Hisaishi. The production on the album at this point sounds as if that robotic form from earlier grew flesh & blood & plant parts over the course of the last two tracks. I think the cover illustrates this very well with Syoko's form coming through the liquid to express the unique lyrics present on every composition. According to the liner notes, she came up with the concept for the cover photo which makes sense why the visuals on the album's sleeve match the sound so well.

The album closer is called "Sunset". At first, it comes across as a more straightforward 80's J-Pop ballad, but by the time the piano solo comes in you realize that the spider-web covered metal thing introduced at the beginning of the album has been completely overtaken by greenery & water pools.

Syoko in 1984

I'm going to try and find this G-Schmitt 12" and talk about it on here sometime.

*I recommend all of G-Schmitt's work.

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