Record Review: Logic System – Logic JPN CD

logic system - logic cover art
Express | JPN | CD | 2008 | EGDS-27

Logic System: Logic – JPN – CD [2008]

  1. Intro
  2. Unit
  3. Domino Dance
  4. 天変地異 (Convulsion Of Nature)
  5. X?
  6. Talk Back
  7. Clash (Chinjyu Of Sun)
  8. Person To Person
  9. Logic

Recently, I got around to making a CD of Masami Tsuchiya’s “Rice Music” album and talk in the comments from Schwenko went in the direction of the role that Hideki Matsutaki’s sequencing and programming played in it. I’d heard the track “Talk Back” from the”Logic” album on the “Terpsichore [Silly Not To]” compilation and I’d liked what I’d heard, but schwenko averred that I really needed to drop what I was doing and listen to “Logic.” Easier said than done, but it transpired that schwenko was entering his collection into Discogs, and discovered that he had multiple copies purchased in his ardor [it happens to me too] and…would I like one? Well, if enough free music is thrown in my direction, I have no problems with that, as long as I’m not taking food out of the mouths of the artist. So along with the Cosmpoolitans CD he also had multiple copies of, the Logic System CD showed up in my mailbox last week. What’s it like?

Mr. Matsutaki came by his synth pilot’s wings honestly, by assisting Isao Tomita and probably the earliest example of his programming and sequencing I have in the Record Cell was his support work with Ryuichi Sakamoto on his “The Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto” album. Now that album was shot through with luscious, warm, analog modular loops and sequencing! “Logic” was his own project from three years later. There were stylistic similarities but technological differences, of course.

“Intro” was a selection of jittery, high pitched loops suggesting frantic energy that acted as the intro to the magnificent “Unit.” The latter opened with a haze of chorused synth drones doppler shifting across the soundscape, that sounded like they were ripped screaming from the intro to John Foxx’s “Underpass!” In other words, a sound I can’t get too much of. Bleep loops began intruding as the complex, warm, rhythm loops built up a methodical, lurching vibe. The “x factor” was the woman talking in French over the music; in a manner not unlike that on Simple Minds’ “Twist/Run/Repulsion.”

Once the “chorus” of the instrumental kicked in the sound was regal and glorious. ascending in pitch over each subsequent bar. The vibe was not a million miles away from Prog, yet it also shared some Krautrock DNA to give it a real hybrid vigor. There was actually a lot of “synthesizer records” that came from this era that are neither fish nor fowl if one is trying to classify them. When the rhythm programming and percussion was this excellent, it’s best to accept it and go with the flow!

hideki matsutaki of Logic System
Hideki Matsutaki of Logic System in his studio in the 80s

“Domino Dance” was quite another thing entirely. A quirky, almost techno-reggae number with squelchy, liquidized synth leads trilling like birds while an electric organ chord rambled through it all. Jabs of guitar, courtesy of YMO live member Kenji Omura dialed down the slightly cartoonish nature of this song.

“XY?” was a tour-de-force of sequencing with fast tempo drum machine programming and trilling synth leads that recalled crickets. As the song progressed, flute-like leads were offset with subtle, yet stinging guitar leads from Mr. Omura. Meanwhile, an American voice processed and slurred down to a dead stop in the climax of the number added a quixotic element.

Most of the music here was written by Matsutaki’s partner, Ryo Kawakami. The song “Talk Back” was the only one here with real lyrics and singing. The 808 programming links it to Bill Nelson, but it’s a little more minimal that that. The gated sound bites laden with effects played well with the guitar licks carefully applied to the track. Omura’s probing, insistent solo in the song’s climax was excellent.

I enjoyed the minimal sequencing that opened “Clash (Chinjyu Of Sun)” but once it got underway there were dubby leads {and lovely syndrum hits!] until the shocking middle eight where the heraldic horn-like leads and sequencers seemed imported from a Wendy Carlos record for maximum “wha…?” factor.

“Person To Person” was perfect soundtrack music to a tech noir film in your mind. The electric violin by Hiroki Tamaki really got the spotlight in this song to shine. I would ae liked to have heard a little more of this player in the mix. Then the brief album ended with the technopop of the title song, which slotted into the more playful sound of “Domino Dancing” with a relentless underlying energy that lasted until the song’s phased cold fade.

I have to say that the album was certainly the delight that it was touted to be. Fans of “A Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto” definitely need to expand their collection to include this one. I’m chastened that I’m so late to the game but it’s always better late than never, right? Besides, it’s not as if I’ve ever seen a Logic System release ever in my life? If not for the kindness of strangers I’d still be out in the cold but there’s a reason why Matsutaki is all over the periphery of Japanese technopop that we love. He’s a demon of modular synth programming! Listening to Logic System, I can’t help but wonder that a pair-up between himself and Benge would end up sounding like? Let’s go suggest that to Benge himself…


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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9 Responses to Record Review: Logic System – Logic JPN CD

  1. slur says:

    I’m still missing this one… good to hear it is such an excellent one as I hoped. The “Domino Dance” UK 12″ I owe since years (and years) and love both tracks, absolutely stunning. Can’t tell if they’re the same versions but per discogs the track times do not differ a lot.
    On the strength of this I bought the (also 1981) “Venus” LP some years later which was the only other release I could find in my part of the world I called home but was perplexed and disappointed as it missed all the brilliance of the 12″.
    Maybe I should give it another try now, nearly forgot that I kept it all this years or finally shelve out some money for the proper first one…


  2. critterjams says:

    great album….really love the final track here


  3. Paul says:

    Your review led me to checking out these tracks on ITunes. And as soon as track 2 started… OMG… I’ve been wanting to find this track for 35 years! Back in 1984 I started my degree in graphic design, and specifically animation. I was at Leicester Polytechnic in the UK. These were the days before computer animation of course! One of our set projects was drawing directly onto clear 35mm film (25 drawings per second etc, time consuming!)… it was fiddly stuff, colourful lines and shapes… but some detail was possible. I have no memory of how the track we used as a team was chosen (we all got 30 seconds to animate to). And now I know it was ‘Unit’! And that has put a HUGE smile on my face PPM… thank you so SO much! I need to check the rest of the album out now!


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Paul – Welcome to the comments! A fellow graphic designer, eh? So you were animating directly on film? That’s a kinetic look. I’m here to tell you that I was making computer animated videos in 1982. I had a Radio Shack color computer and I made a medley of technopop that was about 3 minutes long with OMD and Human League [I have forgotten the others I used] tracks edited together while the images were programmed in extended BASIC to the CoCo, which output to an RCA video jack where we recorded to videotape with the audio coming from the tape. I used that as my final in Graphic Design II! At the university we had to do “slide sound sequences” which were already passe by the time we were taught them. At university we were not allowed to use computers, but that ship had already sailed for me! I started using computers for visual design from day one in 1978. Until the Macintosh in 1984, every graphic and animation I created had to be written in code!


  4. drivel says:

    Logic Systems – Venus’ (1981) is also definitely worth checking out. Recorded in L.A. and featuring session musicians, it has a more laidback, jazzy and unsurprisingly west coast vibe.


  5. Vlad says:

    THE successor to the first two YMO albums. It’s quite amazing, all of it (thought it’s interesting how little Matsutake himself had to do with music, and also how many guitar stuff there is for an allegedly all-synth album). Love all of it to bits – and pretty sad his later work has little to do with it both sonically and melodically (it’s, as was pointed out above, jazzy and laid-back, which is not my thing most of the time). Though even YMO themselves strayed from their early brilliance rather swiftly and widely. Even the solo stuff is abjectly different, which was a huge let-down for me (maybe except for some early Sakamoto and bits of Takahashi). I understand the well seemingly dried up and/or they wanted to experiment with all these new influences, both musical and technological, but really all I love without reservation are those two amazing 1978-1979 albums (1980 if we include the guitar-less live record). So to find the LS debut was like manna from heaven! Great, great stuff.


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