|Discovolante's Best of 1983 (Japan Edition)
From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
Ahead of their time by at least several years, if not a whole decade, Kikeji were pioneers of lo-fi ear-piercing noise punk. The release that captures their energetic, aggressive sound best is their self-titled debut EP from early 1983. The EP starts off with the uncompromisingly difficult "Meishin", before blasting off into punk rock oblivion with "Dorei Shigan". While there's only one other track on here, a live track at that, the energy that emits from those two tracks alone is something else and must be heard to really understood.
Similarly to Kikeiji, Taco was an avant-garde group that was far ahead of their time. Far, far ahead of their time lol. Their 1983 self-titled debut album is one that is very polarizing, even amongst fans of underground Japanese avant-garde. Its subtle satire on 80s Japanese new wave blended together with unhinged jazz fusion and punk is Japanese dadaism at its best.
Requiem (Biyuku Jidai e no Requiem)
Underground goth post-punk icons Auto-Mod have the reputation of being one of the very best of their genre, and that is a reputation that is definitely deserved. Their 1983 debut album "Requiem (Biyuku Jidai e no Requiem)" is full of eerie, cheesy 80s goth goodness, and while it isn't their best effort (that belongs to their 1985 follow-up "Deathtopia"), it's still a fantastic effort.
Gerard are widely regarded to be the crème-de-la-crème of the Japanese progressive rock universe, active (with some occasional breaks) since 1983. Their first album, which was self-titled, came out late that year, and is full of simply remarkable prog tracks. Undoubtedly one of their best efforts with hardly any bad elements.
Offbeat and endearingly bizarre, MetroFarce are unquestionably one of the most unique and one-of-a-kind bands that emerged from the 80s Japanese rock boom. Although they already had one album under their belts already, "Barizanveux" was really when their sound came together for the first time. Mixing elements of goth, new wave, dance pop and folk, this was the beginning of a brief yet highly effective gold period for MetroFarce.
Maten ~Hard Section~
X-Ray really are one of the best early Japanese heavy metal bands that sadly were only active for five years and, as a result, only released four full length albums and an EP before calling it a day. Releasing their first album in 1983 "Maten ~Hard Section~", the album is both heavy and melodic in all the right places, effectively crafting their sound right out the park with this killer album, a formula which would work wonders for their next few albums.
Following her breakthrough album "Ringetsu" with a decent but not-as-good "Kansuigyo", Miyuki Nakajima ceases greatness again with the release of "Yokan". The album shows further evolution into poppy territory, although maintaining a bit of a folk essence, albeit further distancing herself from the genre. Another crucial step on the path towards becoming one of the country's greatest songwriters ever.
Known as one of the first ladies of Japanese heavy metal alongside Mari Hamada, Misako Honjoh is a legend who released a few albums before retiring in 1990, and finally returning in 2005 as a touring artist, although she still has not released any new material since 1990. And while she released a good amount of material with most of it being pretty damn great, her finest moment is her second album "13th", which features the then 17 year old Honjoh teamed up with studio musicians from Loudness and Gerard to create a truly magnificent early heavy metal masterpiece. It's dazzling, hard hitting and just a total thrill to listen to.
"Fantasy" was another commercial and critical success from the then-still up-and-coming idol Akina Nakamori. It consists of some beautifully orchestrated old-fashioned pop which, like her previous album "Variation", still has a very Momoe-like sound to it. It would ultimately be the final Nakamori album to sound so similar to the idol pop of a few years prior before she embarked on a more modern sound.
|Yellow Magic Orchestra
It was bound to be difficult following up two albums (1978's self-titled and 1979's "Solid State Survivor") of such high significance as Yellow Magic Orchestra's, and for quite a while, they fell into that trap, with their two albums that followed them showing slightly decreasing sales and mixed reviews. But in 1983, YMO made a triumphant comeback with their fourth album "Naughty Boys", which not only brought them their first chart topping album in three years (which at the time in Japan with how prolific most artists were, might as well have been a lifetime), but also became one of their most beloved albums as well, up there with their defining masterpiece "Solid State Survivor". Quality electropop that, like most of YMO's material, was lightyears ahead of its time.
"Instant Love" was when the Boowy everyone knows and loves really started to come together. Discarding their previous punk-inspired sound for a more vast new wave rock sound, "Instant Love" is the sound of a hard working band finally stumbling onto their own sound and voice.
Onna Tachi yo
After 4 years of consistent mediocrity, Kenji Sawada finally starting making a decent comeback in 1982 with the release of "Mis Cast", which was his best album in 6 years and after 8 albums. But it wasn't until 1983 that he truly reached greatness again with "Onna Tachi yo". It's one of his most unorthodox and experimental albums which made for a great revitalizing breath of fresh air after his usual style went stale some years before. Fantastic stuff which ultimately also marked the end of an era with Kenji Sawada sadly wouldn't sound nearly as good ever again, with the rest of the decade of the 1990's being very hit-and-miss.
"Mobius Game" compiles all of Juicy Fruits' best tracks into one album, showing just why they were one of the best new wave bands Japan ever had.
Their magnum opus, Zelda's "Carnaval" is an oddity of an album that takes the avant-garde of their self-titled debut and cranks them up to insane levels. An album full of daring experimentations that toy with a dozen music genres over the course of its run, this is not only Zelda at their very best, but also one of the greatest Japanese albums of the decade as well.
Juunana Sai no Chizu
Ozaki Yutaka was a young talented songwriter and singer who was taken away at a far too young age under very suspicious circumstances that are still a mystery to this day. On his 1983 debut album "Juunana Sai no Chizu" which was released when he was only 17 years old, Ozaki shows off his knack of powerfully crooning beautifully crafted pop/rock songs of the highest caliber. The debut of an overnight superstar who truly had 1980s Japan in the palm of his hands.