Yuji Toriyama – Choice Works 1982 – 1985

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Japanese fusion guitarist Yuji Toriyama’s early 80s selected instrumental tracks first time on 45 rpm loud cut vinyl with original artwork by Ben Arfur

The 2nd installment from the label is an anthology of guitarist, composer and producer Yuji Toriyama, regarded as one of the pioneering Japanese fusionists alongside Hiroshi Sato, Ryo Kawasaki and Yasuaki Shimizu. Toriyama has not enjoyed as much recognition as his contemporary, after shunning a solo career in favour of pop and TV arrangements in the 90s and composing video games soundtracks like Street Fighter II and Final Fantasy XII.

Choice Works 1982-1985 represents his first reissue title, with Kay Suzuki compiling work from three rare albums to showcase the best of Toriyama’s sound, most appealing to modern ears. Drum machines and live drums combine to create rich depth, complimented by the boogie tenacity of funk fusionist Toshiki Kadomatsu and the crying spiritual solos of Pat Metheny. It’s no coincidence that Metheny and Toriyama used the same Roland GR-300 and G-505 synth guitars.

LM-1 funk boogie A1 ‘Night Together’ is lifted from Aerobics LP (1982), a TV soundtrack where Toriyama collaborated with keyboardist and producer Ken Morimura. Vocoder mellow funk A2 ‘Stranger in the Night’ and slap bass sexy fusion B1 ‘Donna’ come from his self-titled third solo album Yuri Toriyama (1983). Pat Metheny inspired one man production of B2 ‘Maze’ and balearic boogie down B3 ‘Bay/Sky Provincetown 1977’ are taken from subsequent solo album A Taste of Paradise (1985).

“Yuji Toriyama is an unsung guitar hero in Japanese fusion. While there were so many talented Japanese guitarists in the 80s, Yuji’s production and arrangement in the era were very experimental and raw. I chose tracks that would somehow resonate with the feelings we have in 2019.” Kay Suzuki

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