Butai no ue de by Bitei Matsuki with Souki Urakami

Released: 22.05.02 / Label: Self-released

I’d never heard of Bitei Matsuki or Souki Urakami before, but I’m officially a fan after hearing this song.

This whole thing is just incredible. The horn parts are well constructed and the rhythm section just burns through the song. The melody makes it clear that this is definitely a feature piece for the guest vocalist, and it shows off his range quite well. I just…I just hate the glockenspiel doubling the melody. Every J-pop song ever does this and I don’t know why…please stop.

The whole band is incredible here, with a lot of jazz players brought in to work on the song it seems. The solos are just delightful, with every choice screaming style and taste. The vocalist is on top of their part and sings with class and a special flare. This combination of great playing and singing draws you in and keeps you listening.

They had some great recording work for this piece, really capturing all the depth and emotion of each part. The mix is incredible for a track this busy, and after some research it seems like it was mastered at a Victor run studio. So the work is pro level and it sounds like it. My only nitpick is that the piano can be a bit too loud at times. Clearly he’s the band leader here, but I wonder what it would sound like with it moved into the background a bit.

A note about the album art: CATS IN SPACE! So the cat iconography is the composer’s branding, which makes sense for the focus of the song as a set piece for the two stars. Not something I’d have picked from a shelf, so I don’t know if it does the best job conveying the value of the music here. Kind of a shame, and I think they could have done a better job given the amount of work they put in everywhere else. The music video goes a completely different direction with a fun 8-bit art style. That definitely raises the score a bit.

Verdict: Must listen (4/5)

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