I am JD Twitch, one half of Optimo (Espacio), a DJ, producer, remixer, promoter and record label runner based in Glasgow. I am blessed that my work has taken me to Japan on many occasions.
On my record shopping excursions I am always particularly interested in releases by Japanese artists, and initially started buying them purely based on the sleeve designs. Over time I got to know a lot more about the artists and various releases.
A notable constant in Japanese releases is the uniqueness and strength of sleeve design. Here are a selection of my favourites – all from the 1980s.
Green & Water
I discovered Masumi Hara through their 夢の4倍 album which I bought purely due to its striking design. I then became a fan of their music and Imagination Exchange is my favourite thing I’ve heard by them. It is all over the place, in the best possible way. From hi-tech New Wave ballads to crazed tribal dub workouts.
Bought on sight just for the sleeve design and then I went on to fall hopelessly in love with the music.
The Tale Of Genji
Haruomi Hosono is perhaps the most influential musician ever to come out of Japan.
Former member of Yellow Magic Orchestra and former partner of Ryuichi Sakamoto, still very active to this day.
I kept seeing this in Japan but didn’t buy it as I initially thought it was an early 80s R&B record but eventually I noticed it was on Yen Records and produced by Haruomi Hosono so I bought a copy. I’m so glad I did as it is perhaps one of thee greatest Synth-Pop records ever made and it has gone on to become an all time favourite. It is now a very hard record to find and is perhaps top of the list of records I’d like to reissue on my label.
I didn’t even know what this record was called until I came to write this – there are two words of English on the sleeve and luckily they gave a clue that led me to find out what it is. Strangely it hadn’t mattered to me too much up until now. I had just loved how it looked and sounded. Gamelan, pianos and synthesisers. Quite eerie in places, could be a soundtrack.