The discotheque of Babel contains an infinite set of records made from all possible permutations of cool sounds – mellow marimbas and fuzzy basslines, tropical percussions and phased drums, Pacific Highway sunrise guitar solos and synthesisers made of fireworks.
The overwhelming majority of the results are pleasant enough. If you are lucky they will improve the quality of the time you spend on hold during a call to customer services, or your ascent up a skyscraper implemented by sound designers in a retro-ironic mood.
And from time to time, an exception: a similar form animated by a spirit of melancholy, existentialism and sadness, an awareness of the nostalgia we will feel for the present we live today, which adds an irresistible dash of complexity to what otherwise would be a shallow pastel façade.
These records have a touch of genius and are frantically tracked across the Discotheque by otherwise suave gentlemen and ladies straight out of a Michael Mann flick.
And they are frequently produced by Haruomi Hosono. He needs no introduction. Yellow Magic Orchestra member, hyper-creative solo artist and producer extraordinaire, Japanese left-field pop’s version of Conny Plank. And you will know him by the trail of smooth.
We have only started exploring his catalogue recently, and in doing this discovered two 1980s albums by Japanese synthy loungers Interior, which is what we will focus on today. These records are called Interior and Design, and they perfectly represent what we said before: a confluence of cool styles arranged in exquisite harmony, above which hover a spirit full of enigma and soul that helps them transcend what could have otherwise been cheesy or banal.
Just listen to the joyous ‘math rock soundtrack for a John Hughes film’ of Giant Steps, and Shadows of You, which begins as you enter the dressing room of a fashion-store to try on a white suit, and instead step into a Narnia-style fantasy land of flying dragons and Jean Michel Jarre wizards.
Find out (a little) more about Interior in Discogs.