Let us tell you something about our latest obsession, Toshifumi Hinata:
Toshifumi Hinata is an accomplished piano player who studied classical piano and composition in several US universities. He is a prolific composer of soundtracks for TV series and dramas, and he has been referred to as ‘The Henry Mancini of Japanese Drama music”. According to Google’s knowledge graph thing, he operates in the ‘new age’ genre, and we did in fact first stumble on him in one of our frequent algorithmic explorations of the Japanese ambient/minimal composition labyrinth in YouTube.
He also has some pretty neat glasses.
As it often happens with the Japanese artists we are interested in, there is little information about him in English (here is his website, in Japanese), which only enhances his mystery and makes his music our primary source of information about him. This leads us to assert that Toshifumi Hinata is one of the coolest dudes ever. We hope you will agree after listening to three songs from albums released between 1985 and 1987.
Let us go through them in chronological order.
Is Sarah’s Crime a soundtrack? The record’s title suggests as much. We imagine it providing the backdrop for the romantic comedy scenes of a Japanese version of Profondo Rosso, or Agent Graham’s moody reveries in a storm of Manhunter blues (cf. above).
Although you will not find any slasher horror moments here, a hint of weirdness and perhaps even danger lingers. Chaconne’s music box melody is as close as we’ll get to finding out what Sarah did, and seeing her face. But the truth fades into silence, like memories of a dream.
Reality in Love is all francophone elegance and pastel panache. The dance of strings and piano convey the complex, intricately urbane and harmonious rituals of modernity. In that sense, it works like lounge music during the optimistic 1960s, or a collection of Bacharachian gems.
However, in its art deco progressions we also feel nostalgia, perhaps for the fantastical make-believes of religion and myth which fall by the wayside as rational individualism holds sway. Perhaps that’s what connects it, in our minds, with Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli soundtracks, which tell with many voices a single story: the loss of magic that comes with maturity.
We could certainty imagine the dissatisfied protagonist in Iain M Banks’ Player of Games listening to it, as the glaciers slide by.
We conclude our tour of Hinata land in a netherworld or limbo for people whose capital sin has been to be too chill, like a version of Black Mirror’s San Junipero set in a never-ending Ibizan summer.
Broken Belief is the perfect example of how this plays out: a chorus of synthetic angels march up the right side of the uncanny valley, beyond which awaits a blissful Balearic arcadia whose sunset dulls all edges and blurs all pains. It is a known fact that David Mancuso consulted on the Singularity, and this is where we’ll all come together and hold hands, after the machines of loving grace have taken over.