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Julian Sakata - See?


Julian Sakata

Rainstar Records

Available from

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Some songwriters retain a unique narrative style setting them apart from the herd. Dylan pretty much set the standard in folk, Ray Davies crafted it into the baseline rock element, Billy Joel enshrined it in pop, and Springsteen, as repellent as his post-Born to Run oeuvre is, fused the three. Consequently, a number of indie artists have labored to varying degrees of success to emulate any of the manifestations. It's a hellishly difficult genre, if genre it indeed is, to master. Julian Sakata makes the attempt here, and, well, this is a quite unusual disc.

The opening cut is a bit puzzling, but Suffer the Young is hypnotic as an incredibly well played blend of cinematic music, 20s refrains, megaphone toss offs, flourishes (think Beatles and Sgt. Pepper's), progressive classicalisms, and mutable rock and roll matrix. This is transitioned over to The Restoration of a Child's Robot, with its sad orchestral rose garden flanking the suggestive rhymes, fusing metaphors for lost love and childhood's baubles. These two tracks, then, orient the listener so that Little Sun's bandoneon and melodica find themselves able to sit comfortably in what is now understood to be an intriguingly shifting swell of expectation and surprise.

Sakata provided the score for the film Flourish so well that the filmmaker was sparked to sit in the studio for the making of See?, turning it onto a full-length documentary...equally a puzzling act, but, well, this is an era for filmic experimentation, isn't it? After all, who expected Clerks, Ghost World, and similar movies to be so successful? See? is indeed a beast of a different mode, one attempted before, not often, and usually not well-accepted—too often not because the result wasn't worthy but because the audience is rarely equipped for its own duties. If anything is going to open the access door, Moth, with its Bowie-esque ambience, will be the vehicle. As to my own reaction, I'm intrigued by the high literacy present in all aspects but still scratching my head. What the hell do we have here? Judge for yourself, the trip is well worth the risk. Dig the very cool painted cartoon cover by Mary Loup while you're at it; should help a lot. This is a CD that grows on you with every listen.

Track List:

  • Suffer the Young
  • The Restoration of a Child's Robot
  • Little Sun
  • Lights On
  • Moth
  • No Good Bye
  • Everything's Beautiful Once
  • Turning
  • Toast
  • Little Sun (bedroom version)
  • Everything's Beautiful Once (lo-fi mix)
All songs by Julian Sakata.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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