Masami Tsuchiya: Rice Music – UK – LP 
- Rice Music
- Se! Se! Se!
- Neo-Rice Music
- Rice Dog Jam
- Secret Party
- Silent Object
- Night In The Park
It was while investigating the Arcadia album last week that I came to the very painful realization that I have owned Masami Tsuchiya‘s “Rice Music” album from 1982 ever since visiting Ron Kane in 2014 and rifling through his discard pile! [which was larger than most people’s record collection] The facts in Discogs did not lie. No, instead they mocked my pathetic inability to enjoy music I already own. So last weekend I was determined to do something about it! With the three day weekend in America, I made sure to digitize and denoise the LP and now I can report back with my findings.
Like many, I first came across Tsuchiya when he was the guitarist enlisted to play on the final JAPAN tour; memorialized on “Oil On Canvas.” His aggressive, metallic tone enlivened that recording. What would I find on his solo album, which had been recorded in Britain and Japan at roughly the same time? I knew one thing for certain. The guest list here was beyond impeccable with Bill Nelson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Percy Jones, and Mick Karn and Steve Jansen of JAPAN along for the adventure. The attention to Art Rock detail was such that Bowie’s lensman Masayoshi Sukita shot the cover photos.
The title track featured Japanese instrumentation like koto and traditional percussion with modern accoutrements woven into the mix like Nelson’s eBow and Tsuchiya’s guitar duetting along with Karn’s fretless bass. The resulting track was like a more cheerful late period JAPAN instrumental. Much more angular was the frantic “Se! Se! Se!” with Percy Jones laying down languid clouds of fretless bass over the hyperkinetic music bed that saw Tsuchiya puncturing the New Wave vibe with roaring, metallic solos.
It opened up with thin, metallic synth loops and chirps before the traditional drums and bamboo percussion and Karn moved the track into a far more organic place. The female backing vocals, incorporating trills, whops and whistles, made this one seem to be very close to the vibe that Ryuichi Sakamoto would explore with “Okinawa Song – Chin Nuku Juushii” on his “Neo Geo” album on 1987. The loping rhythm track was punctuated by stick percussion and piccolos. And when it ended, the long ambient coda was largely bass and piccolo.
“Tao-Tao” was exploring a similar space to where Nelson was also investigating on his “Chimera” EP of the next year. The frantic programmed drum track was almost a peek into the drum-n-bass of the future but Nelson’s eBow was never a part of such hijinx. Tsuchiya’s English vocal here had almost a rockabilly feel to it that painted this track into a unique space.
Side two opened with the unique “Kafka,” which seemed to be a Sakamoto track flown in whole cloth to the otherwise Tsuchiya album. The writing and instrumentation was pretty much down to Sakamoto here. The odd filtered vocal loops made for what counted as a rhythm track as the melodica and Tsuchiya’s rhythm guitar attained a Funk groove [complete with handclaps!] as Sakamoto oplayed all of the rhythm here as well.
The Funk kicked into overdrive of “Blind Dog Jam” which had Jones hanging back behind the beat on the fretless bass yet still matching the fast and furious tempo here. The squealing guitar harmonics jabbing into the mix would make this cut a more than a match for the sort of work that Adrian Belew was committing to wax around the same time on “The Lone Rhino.” The channel shifting and doppler mix on the guitar only served to crank up the velocity of this one. The loops of a dog barking throughout were the one light hearted touch here.
“Secret Party” opened with Polaroid SX-70 magazine percussion by none other than photographer Sukita. One of his two musical credits for 1982 on Discogs! [The other was on Haroumi Hosono’s “Philharmoony”] Steve Jansen was playing a drum pattern so close to the one from “Visions Of China” such as to be an unauthorized sequel. But the processed vocal soundbites were miles away from the croon of David Sylvian. Later in the song Sukita’s Olympus OM-2 motor drive served as a percussion fill. The lyric “gentlemen take Polaroids” fairly leapt out of the dense mix following that. Leading me to think that any similarities here to the JAPAN oeuvre was strictly intentional. Surely anyone craving more of that “Tin Drum” flavor would get it in spades here. In hindsight, one of the leading lights here was probably Hideki Matsutake of Logic System on programming. Some of the more berserk pacing on cuts like this, “Se! Se! Se!” and “Blind Dog Jam” were probably down to his participation. I enjoyed the Logic System track I’ve heard on “Terpsichore?/Silly Not To!” and I should probably add him as well to the endless want list.
The placid and beautiful “Night In The Park” brought the eclectic album to a close. If not for the fretless bass, it almost had a Be Bop Deluxe ballad feel. Tsuchiya’s elegant, sustained guitar solo was certainly up to the Nelson standard. In fact, I wish it were longer. I loved the sax solo in the song’s coda, though it was uncredited.
It’s good to see that Tsuchiya has kept busy in the time following his band Ippu-Do, beginning here. His history has intertwined with that of the JAPAN members with further linkups with Jansen + Barbieri, as well as Karn and Sylvian. In 2001 Tsuchiya formed a project [The d.e.p.] that was completely beneath my radar. I wish I had not waited seven years to play this record! Tsuchiya made an album that mixed Japanese and British Art Rock royalty together into a delightful fusion that I should have been all over like…white on rice in 1982. It would behoove me to investigate his body of work more closely. Watch this space. Hopefully not seven years later.