Shintaro Sakamoto begins a new and perhaps unexpected chapter in his storied career with the release of his debut solo album, the otherworldly folk-pop masterpiece How to Live with a Phantom. For over two decades Sakamoto was the frontman and leader of Japanese psychedelic phenomenon Yura Yura Teikoku, a Tokyo-based band that formed in 1989 as part of the burgeoning underground scene based around Koenji’s legendary UFO Club, appearing on the PSF label’s iconic Tokyo Flashback compilations and signing to the Captain Trip imprint. And yet across their 20-year trajectory, they rocketed out of the underground and achieved massive mainstream success throughout Japan with an always-evolving psych-pop sound that eventually found them working with Sony Music and headlining major music festivals across the country. It was a rare case where great, boundary-breaking music resonated with the masses. While the group only ever played a handful of shows outside of their homeland, they achieved cult status throughout the world and saw several albums reissued in limited pressings in the U.S., including the critically acclaimed Hollow Me/Beautiful on James Murphy’s DFA label.
Immediately following Yura Yura Teikoku’s break-up in 2010, Sakamoto began recording as a solo artist - truly solo, he plays all the instruments here save percussion and woodwinds - and after more than a year holed up in his home studio, How to Live with a Phantom was born. The resulting album is a bold stylistic departure, even for an artist whose career has been defined by them. It is a single-minded exploration of the sounds of 1970s radio pop from around the globe, combining American folk-rock and the evocative Japanese pop music that was influenced by it, but simultaneously referencing everything from French pop to Afro-funk, tropicalia, Krautrock and the lighter side of psychedelia. Most of the songs are built around Sakamoto’s hypnotic electric-bass grooves (he learned to play for these recordings), a crisp drum set and bubbling percussion, layered with dreamy guitars and vintage synthesizers, and topped by meticulously arranged female vocal harmonies, horns, and Sakamoto’s own languid yet deeply expressive lead vocals. It’s a set that’s both sun-drenched and full of melancholy, and while the musical references and inspirations may be clear, How to Live with a Phantom is a wholly original album that will connect to a broad spectrum of listeners - from folk and pop aficionados to world music fans, psych-heads and many more. We could not be more excited to be releasing How to Live with a Phantom as Other Music Recording Co.’s debut full-length, and we know you will be as moved by this record as we are.