It’s been a moment since I’ve had a new Hidden Gems, but with a deluge of new releases in the last couple of weeks, things are back in business. This week’s comes from Tokyo songwriter Yuma Abe. Previously Abe had been the singer and songwriter for breezy pop band never young beach, leaning into a distinctly West Coast U.S. sound and opening tours for Devendra Banhart and Mild High Club abroad. On his solo debut he wanders into a more solitary, contemplative territory bringing along help from his former tour mate Banhart on guitar and enlisting his mentor Haruomi Hosono to produce the album. I asked Yuma to make a pick for the Hidden Gems series and he’s chosen a direct influence on his new album Fantasia. Check out his dive into Joe Hisaishi’s Digital Fantasia.
“The record I chose is Digital Fantasia by Joe Hisaishi says Abe. I learned about this record from my friend Yuma Koda, who played keyboards on my new solo album. Digital Fantasia is a cover album of songs from Yumi Matsutoya, a renowned Japanese singer/composer, by Joe Hisaishi, another prominent Japanese composer known for his soundtrack work with Hayao Miyazaki. This was a total hidden gem for me, since they are both one of the most famous music icons of Japan, but there is still very little information about this album. Inside the CD, the booklet lists all the synthesizers, drum machines, and all the instruments used on the record which got me really excited. It really feels like a hidden treasure box,” he confides.
“The record had a profound influence in the making of my first solo album Fantasia. This was the first project I’ve used keyboards all over the album, whereas previously, they were mostly written and recorded on string instruments. And I was especially influenced by the arrangements and the tonality of this album.
This one may fall further under the hidden designation than many gems. The album appears to be rather hard to come by at the moment — physically or digitally. The album can be streamed on Youtube, though, so there’s still a chance to get in a listen and maybe hope for a reissue. In the meantime Yuma Abe’s new album is out digitally today, and on vinyl soon from Temporal Drift.