You don’t always get what you bargain for and Equality, the latest album from the darling of Tokyo’s discotheques, Yukihiro Fukutomi, is more ambient recliner than dance floor filler. Nevertheless it is a super slick escapade that will send your senses fleeing to sundrenched beaches and channel chill out into your soul.
Fukutomi began DJing in Tokyo in the late 1980s and progressed via pilgrimages to New York, the home of House, to become a much feted composer/arranger/producer. He wrote or co-scribed every track on this album and such musical mastery has earned him acolytes like the infamous Norman Jay and �Dimitri’ from Paris.
Not unusual for such an artisan, Equality starts off distinctively mellow and naturally leaves the floor filling stormers like The Tambour and Continuous Function. with its soaring flutes and booty-shaking rhythms, till the end of the album. Lyrics when they do appear spread an evergreen message of peace and love and the album bristles with a yearning for a freer, peaceful, sweeter existence.
Also chucked into the mix is some brilliant Gil-Scot Heron-esque spoken word poetry and the Blackbeard remix of Equality featuring the deep and earnest voice of Rich Medina, is a spine-tingling reminder of just how well this kind of Jazz poetry fuses with dance music.
Another artist who makes a cameo on the album is the most elegant of soulstresess Lady Alma – big star of the Philadelphia Nu-Soul scene – on the track Hooked which is definitely more than a little inspired by that other voracious Philly superdiva Jill Scott.
However, the track that leaps out of the album is Is it featuring Lori Fine with its cacophonous, pulsing electronica that bursts and ripples over Ms Fine’s stunning syncopated voice. But Road To Nowhere, which succeeds it, is just jarring electro-garbage. But perhaps there are always a few waifs and strays that could do with being kicked out of most DJs sets.
I first listened to this album in the comfortable, familiar surroundings of home, utterly uninterrupted but it is the kind of music I would expect to hear late night in the dark, cavernous, uber-hip environs of Paris’ Buddha Bar. It is an effortless compilation of cool and destined to be the back drop for many a night this Autumn spent intellectualising the night away in bars and backrooms.