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STOMU YAMASH'TA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Japan


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Stomu Yamash'ta biography
STOMU YAMASH'TA was born in 1947 in Kyoto Japan, with the name Yamashita Tsutomu.
Since the late 60's he has developed an international reputation as a composer and performer (percussion, keyboards) of serious music, jazz rock fusion, rock, electronica as well as multi-media projects for the theatre, a ballet score ("Shukumei" ) and cinematic soundtracks. He studied jazz. He has toured and played with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and the rock group Come to The Edge. YAMASH'TA has recorded not only jazz rock fusion and rock but music by the serious modern composers Maxwell-Davis and Henze.

He came to Europe in the early 70's working briefly in France on theatrical multi-media projects (e.g. the precursor for "Red Buddah Theatre" and "The Man From The East") before moving across the Channel to England. Through the 70's YAMASH'TA recorded the majority of his 70's albums in the UK but alas very few of the Island Records recordings have been issued on CD. He has composed the soundtracks of the David Bowie film "The Man Who Fell to Earth" (which borrowed significantly from earlier recordings), Ken Russell's "The Devils", and race car documentary "One By One".

STOMU YAMASH'TA is probably best known nowadays as the leader of the supergroup GO with STEVIE WINWOOD, AL DIMEOLA, KLAUS SCHULZ and MICHAEL SHRIEVE for three albums and related performances. However, prior to forming GO, YAMASH'TA played not a small part in nurturing musicians who were subsequently better known for playing in important 70's UK jazz rock groups, e.g. BRAND X and ISOTOPE - this is worth expanding since this aspect of his work (relevant to Progarchives) is often neglected on the web. YAMASH'TA attracted musicians such as MORRIS PERT and GARY BOYLE (previous known for working with BRIAN AUGER) to his "Red Buddah Theatre" project/recording (one of the few albums available on CD) and then on several later recordings. MORRIS PERT with that other future BRAND X player PETER ROBINSON recorded first as SUNTREADER. YAMASH'TA recruited ex SOFT MACHINIST HUGH HOPPER to what would become the critically acclaimed 1973 recording "Freedom Is Frightening" - one of those albums that is crying out for CD release, with BOYLE and HOPPER working together for the first time. GARY BOYLE went on to form ISOTOPE, which of course HUGH HOPPER joined for their second recording "Illusion". In 1974 YAMASH'TA formed the band EAST WIND.

After leaving Europe in 1980, STOMU YAMASH'TA retired to a Bud...
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Red BuddhaRed Buddha
Import
Spalax 1996
Audio CD$26.93
$14.39 (used)
come to the edge LPcome to the edge LP
ISLAND
Vinyl$25.00 (used)
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VANGUARD
Vinyl$10.99 (used)
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STOMU YAMASH'TA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STOMU YAMASH'TA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.09 | 4 ratings
Metampsychosis (with Masahiko Satoh)
1971
2.10 | 12 ratings
Red Buddha
1971
3.78 | 13 ratings
Floating Music (with Come to the Edge)
1972
2.93 | 10 ratings
The Man From the East (OST)
1973
3.95 | 10 ratings
Freedom Is Frightening (with East Wind)
1973
3.04 | 7 ratings
One By One (with East Wind)
1974
3.53 | 7 ratings
Raindog
1975
3.17 | 25 ratings
Go
1976
2.43 | 13 ratings
Go Too
1977
2.67 | 8 ratings
Sea & Sky
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
Listen To The Future, Vol. 1
2001

STOMU YAMASH'TA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The World Of Stomu Yamash'ta
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Uzu: The World Of Stomu Yamash'ta 2
1971
4.06 | 16 ratings
Go Live From Paris
1976

STOMU YAMASH'TA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

STOMU YAMASH'TA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 13 ratings
The Complete Go Sessions
2005

STOMU YAMASH'TA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

STOMU YAMASH'TA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
  Floating Music  (with Come to the Edge) by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.78 | 13 ratings

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Floating Music (with Come to the Edge)
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

3 stars No doubt, Yamash'ta perfectly befits the stereotype image of a somewhat crazed, avantgarde and totally unpredictable Japanese artist, one that couldn't be accused of consistency.

This was the first of his albums I've heard in the early '70s and back then when every new release in Jazz-Rock was eagerly tracked down and appreciated, it came across as a worthy addition to the genre.

My old tape copies are long gone, leaving me only with fond memories of (some) of his albums. It took me decades to hear Yamash'ta's music again. Well, it appears that things have changed since and the abundance of other artists releasing enormous amounts of material has left this piece sounding rather mediocre in comparison.

Credible effort has s gone into "Floating Music", but in all sincerity, today it appears rather dated, eliciting only limited excitement. Even the presence of my greatly admired percussionist, Morris Pert (RIP) is not enough now to rate this album above "good, but not essential".

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 Freedom Is Frightening (with East Wind) by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.95 | 10 ratings

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Freedom Is Frightening (with East Wind)
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by dreadpirateroberts

4 stars Stomu's East Wind was formed off the success of his touring theatre shows but the group delivers something more than a 'side project.' The compositions on Freedom is Frightening do have a theatrical feel and are quite dramatic at times but I enjoy that. In some ways, the music reflects longer moments from his earlier soundtrack to Man from the East, making good use of builds and dynamics, especially on the title track, where the swirling and droning eventually gives way to soloing from Boyle, and actually, Stomu plays with a fair amount of restraint. It works for the song, but I still would have liked some more aggression from him in the closing minutes.

The album is actually a fairly high-energy outing for the most part, evidenced by the repetitive but spiky 'Rolling Nuns' which is like the downhill slope after the build up on the title track. Once more Boyle is all over the piece and again he's assisted by Gascoigne's fuzzy synth, which brings just enough menace to the piece. Stomu plays harder, driving the song from the drum stool and it doesn't really let up until everything stops for a reverb heavy vocal outro. Some of the nice percussive touches here are continued in the more mid-tempo centrepiece, 'Pine on the Horizon' which almost brings Gentle Giant or Mahavishnu Orchestra to mind at times, or at least, a more sedate version of either band. Not just due to violin and guitar interplay but in the composition, it's probably the most varied song structurally, bringing in a range of rhythms and moods to its eleven-plus minutes. It really gets rocking toward the end as Boyle cuts loose again, where a horn section makes a surprise appearance, and while not awkward, seems to be a little bit tacked on, as if the brass could have been incorporated further.

Bringing down the curtain is 'Wind Words' where Stomu's wife Hisako takes the lead, her violin soaring over Gascoigne's vibes and the acoustic guitar. It's a haunting piece and a fantastic way to end a mostly charging album.

Stomu fans will want to get this one, it's one of his best, in a varied discography, and those who enjoyed Go may want to do so too. Just keep in mind the space-feel is not present here, it's classic fusion with a flair for the theatrical, though fans of Isotope may want to check this one out for Boyle alone.

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 Go by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.17 | 25 ratings

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Go
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars This was the first Stomu Yamash'ta album I listened to. As the music started I was immediately enchated by it. Gorgeous, slow and symphonic playing, and the excellent vocals of Steve Winwood that soon entered, was the cherry on the top.

The album cover - not surprisingly - names the stellar cast accompanying Stomu who plays percussion and keyboards: Winwood (keyboards, vocals), Al DiMeola (guitars), Michael Shrieve (drums) and Klaus Schulze (synths). The complete list of players is a whole lot longer. Oh, I see that this particular cover seen here doesn't mention DiMeola and Schulze. Anyway, these names make one expect a lot from this music - and seemingly there is the risk of a disappointment. Neither I was intact for slight disappointment when listening to the latter half of the album, where there are more portions of soul/funk. Winwood of course is very much at home with these genres too, and the whole band moves skillfully from one style to another, but I personally would have enjoyed the album more without the most straightforward beat sections (and sadly the Go Sessions edition plays Parts One and Two as single tracks of 20- 21 minutes long, which means I can't edit worst parts out on my own CD).

But for the most part, this is a wonderful concept album with soaring, spacey melodies and beautiful sound. Friends of the more symphonic wing of the Fusion genre will surely enjoy this, and especially if you consider Steve Winwood (of TRAFFIC fame) as a great vocalist. The listening experience flows nicely from synth-centred symphonic and spacey instrumental sections to the ones with vocals, ranging from ballads to funkier style. Almost 5-star stuff.

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 The Man From the East (OST) by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.93 | 10 ratings

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The Man From the East (OST)
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars I write this as a preface to the review of Go (1976). I recently listened to Go Sessions 2-CD (including Go, the live album and Go Too) and this album, which music was made for a Japanese theatre production in 1972. I'm not surprised to see only two reviews on this one, but I'm most surprised of the fact that its rating was slightly higher than of Go's. For me it's obvious that whereas Go is at least a 4-star album, The Man from the East left me almost completely cold. I actually didn't even bother to listen to all the tracks til the end but used the skip button instead. (The more music I've heard in my life, the less I believe in the saying "it grows on you", ie. lerning to enjoy something I didn't enjoy at all in the first listen. But I believe this is one of those albums that NEEDS several listenings to get into - if you feel the need to get into it; I don't.) This is too avant-garde for my taste, not much of a melody for starters. I guess the music was very important part of the theatre production and worked powerfully, but for pure listening this is not, in my opinion.

The music is built on traditional Japanese sounds, though there are e.g. percussionist Morris Pert and Peter Robinson on electric piano involved. The music is mostly percussion-centred. My wife thought of a jungle as I played the CD. There wasn't, I suppose, any "ordinary" singing but some track featured something like tribal chant. The liner notes spoke of Hiroshima tragedy (the theme of the play?). So it's quite appropriate that the music isn't easy either. I did enjoy one track which had a beautiful sad melody and less percussion. Without that exception I would have rudely rated this one star (concerning my personal reception only), but two stars will be OK. This is not necessarily "poor" music in the objective sense, but at least for me it didn't work without the context.

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 The Complete Go Sessions by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2005
3.78 | 13 ratings

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The Complete Go Sessions
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by dreadpirateroberts

4 stars This compilation is where you should look for your dose of 'Go.'

Including both studio albums ('Go,' 'Go Too') and the 'Live from Paris' release, it's comprehensive and comes at a great price, generally imported from Raven Records in Australia, or second hand online. The best thing about the combination of the three albums is that you get the two most important releases from 'Go,' (being the self-titled release and the live one) along with the third as what could be considered a bonus.

'Go' itself is a good album, ranging from space-rock, jazz fusion and soundscapes, and featuring a bit of a super-group line-up that included Yamashta, Di Meola, Schultze, Shrieve and Winwood. Now, if the studio tracks didn't quite live up to the expectations set by the line-up, the performances revealed on 'Live from Paris' exceed or at east match them. Expanded versions of the pieces, with better solos and a looser feel to many of the songs, it's great stuff. Di Meola in particular is on fire.

This set also includes the 'Go Too' album, which is not at the same standard as either of its predecessors, but has some interesting moments, and should be of interest to the listener who enjoyed the first release. Having said that, I suspect that the 'Live from Paris' versions will probably get the most airtime of any on this set.

Four stars for the compilation.

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 The Man From the East (OST) by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.93 | 10 ratings

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The Man From the East (OST)
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by dreadpirateroberts

4 stars I only own three of Stomu's albums but The Man from the East stands out for me. It meshes traditional Japanese sounds and Jazz with more 'western' instruments, usually with fine results. As a collection of music, I find it tighter and more focused than Go, and think that it possess a wider sonic palette when compared to Floating Music.

These differences are no doubt influenced by the fact that the album serves as a soundtrack to a live show from the 'Red Buddha Theatre' touring Europe in 1972/3 (though only two tracks are recorded live, in Paris, the others are studio cuts) and so the listener hears mostly instrumental music that is meant to be set to a performance. It makes for a lively 'A' side backed with a sombre, and at times, disconcerting 'B' side.

Opening the album is Scoop, one of the more upbeat tracks, with electric guitar, electric piano and horns creating a festive sound, whereas Ana Orori is more percussive with nimble flute playing throughout. Especially effective in the later half of the album is the haunting violin that builds Memory of Hiroshima to a rousing brass fanfare, before the beautiful Mountain Pass finishes things up with its hypnotic soprano saxophone lines. It makes for a soothing end to an album that has some wild moments.

Less effective for me, possibly due to the nature of a recording meant to support a theatre performance, are the live tracks; 'What a Way to Live in Modern Times' and 'Mandala.' Here melody takes a backseat to storytelling, though some frenetic soloing and vocal work is employed in these tracks.

Probably for fans who lean toward a jazz/rock sound, but with traditional eastern elements, rather than say, a symphonic sound, overall, this is a great album that gets a lot of time in my player. Coloured as it is with Stomu's distinctive percussive touches and his skill in melding instruments from the east and west, it has definitely inspired me to hunt down his follow up, Freedom is Frightening.

Note: My pressing, the Raven CD issue from Australia (which includes Floating Music) lists the tracks as below:

1. Scoop 2:59 2. Ana Orori 3:12 3. What a Way to Live in Modern Times 9:19 4. My Little Partner 4:01 5. Mandala 12:58 6. Memory of Hiroshima 8:43 7. Mountain Pass 3:45

Track picks: Ana Orori, Memory of Hiroshima, Mountain Pass

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 Metampsychosis (with Masahiko Satoh) by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.09 | 4 ratings

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Metampsychosis (with Masahiko Satoh)
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Stomu Yamash'ta's debut album is ambitious contemporary avant and free-jazz mix, composed by Masahiko Satoh. Masahiko was graduated by Berklee School Of Music, and after his return to Japan in 1968 he became one of leading avant-jazz Japanese musician. His solo release "Amalgamation" from the same 1971 year is absolute avant-prog masterpiece.

There on their common project with another Japanese fusion future star Stomu Yamash'ta things don't go such a good way. Masahiko's compositions (album contains two only long free form compositions) are ambitious, but the realisation isn't successful at all. Stomu Yamash'ta plays percussion with support of Masahiko on piano and Masahiko's regular collaborator of that time brass section based ensemble T. Miyama & His New Herd.

Music on this release are free form long and bulky compositions without big internal logic or structure. Almost all of the time it sounds just as a collection of separate independent free form musical pieces, and even that pieces themselves too often sound as some ideas demonstration, not pre-composed music. From another hand, album absolutely lacks dynamics and adventure of improv work. In fact, all release could be described as collection of occasional avant contemporary music and free jazz pieces without connection between each other, filled with amorphous ambient-like sounds between them.

Big disappointment.

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 Raindog by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.53 | 7 ratings

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Raindog
Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Raindog, great Japanese drummer's Yamash'ta musical collection, began it's life as multimedia happening in London ( with two British vocalists from Jesus Christ Superstar fresh play). Then it was transferred to this album's recordings ( with Japanese rhythm section and avant-violinist).

Music on this album, even with some European jazz fusion elements, is kind of spacey progressive pop-rock soundtrack. With excellent guitar work of heavy guitarist Hozumi Tanka, many classical moments, interesting drumming and some violin explosions. I have a mixed feeling when listening to this music.

Some pieces are great, another are just interesting, and some are really pop-oriented and a bit out of place, but all album in whole is unfocused. More collection of different musical compositions, than conceptual work. Posibly, the main reason is it's in fact a soundtrack, and you need to see the show just to accept the music as it was planned by author.

Anyway, some moments are really nice for listening, but I believe this album is not for a fusion fan. Psychedelic/space prog lovers will find there really more material for them to enjoy.

My rating is 3+

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 Go by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.17 | 25 ratings

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Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Every time I listen to Side 1 of this collaborative work, I wonder why it is not regarded as a lost progressive classic, but the answer might lie somewhere on the shapeless and insipid grooves of Side 2. While Yamash'ta is known more as a jazz/fusion artist, most of this is space rock, at times mellow and wonderful, at times slightly funky and equally wonderful, but too often lacking in development or character.

I would not be surprised if 90% of the effort was dispensed on Side 1, because the compositions, arrangements, melodies, directed jams, and vocals are all top notch, not to mention the sequencing of the material. There are several climaxes and several retrenchments. The blending of instrumental interludes and vocal tracks is executed to perfection, such that this sounds like a side long suite. As "Solitude" gives way to "Nature", Paul Buckmaster's orchestral arrangements are a revelation. Then it's Winwood's first appearance, accompanied my piano, rhythm section and more of Buckmaster. This might be what FOCUS would sound like in their quieter moments if they added strings.

"Air Over" and "Crossing the Line" make another lovely couple, the space sounds of the first slowly giving way to a timeless and mysterious tune. Yamash'ta's ethnic influences seem close to the surface here. The performance of Winwood in "Crossing the Line" is up there with his best, and light years beyond what he would attain stardom for a few years later. The orchestra remains in force to maintain continuity. I'm not sure who delivers the lead guitar solo, but if it is Al Dimeola he shows a remarkable adaptability to the mood of the disk, as it sounds nothing like his typical style.

This would almost be enough, but "Man of Leo" and "Stellar" form a third pairing to die for. The edge is harder and we are in more funky territory. Still it works as a contrast with the ethereal start to the album, and the full band collaboration in the instrumental "Stellar" is as good as it gets in that rare prog-R&B sub genre.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, side 2 is a major letdown, with a much less structured and authentic blend of space drivel and a few mostly conventional rock songs, the best of these being the TRAFFIC-like "Ghost Machine".

My advice is Go directly to Side 1 and enjoy one of the tighter and more accomplished cooperative and ego-free productions of it's time. I'd love to give 4 stars, but for half an album, I cannot go there.

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 Go by YAMASH'TA, STOMU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.17 | 25 ratings

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Stomu Yamash'ta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars All-stars project leading by Stomu Yamash'ta recorded a strange album. Or better to say -very eclectic album. Possibly, for the year of release it sounded as experimental work ( or at least there was a concept to record experimental album). Whenever I had listened it much more later, possibly I missed some atmosphere.

For me, this is a musical mix when few very different musical styles are mixed in one collection. Happily, all musicians are of highest class, so bigger part of separate pieces sounds attractive. But even trying hard it is difficult to imagine this compilation of very different songs as one album.

Big part of the music there is space-ambient rhythmless electronic figures, produced by Klaus Schulze and Stomu Yamash'ta synthesizers. Another part of music is down tempo simple ballads in vein of late 60-s, just with some electronic sounds additions. Steve Winwood vocal is quite nice on some songs, some Al Di Meola guitar work as well. But these compositions are coming just from another story. Excellent female background voices, r'n'b rhythms and jazz-funk. It's the ingredients, but the problem for me is they all aren't melted in one , but you can find some combinations in different places. Because of that all album sounds as soundtrack, it looks that so different compositions are placed in one place because of some outside reason, not because of musical project logic.

Looking separately on each song, the bigger part of them are really strong ones. Placed in right place and more acceptable combination, album's material could become possibly more attractive. But when listened as it is, still sounds more as never released film's soundtrack.

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Thanks to Dick Heath for the artist addition.

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