MASAHIKO SATOH — Amorphism

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MASAHIKO SATOH - Amorphism cover
3.07 | 3 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1986

Filed under Fusion
By MASAHIKO SATOH

Tracklist

A1 Escape Velocity 5:42
A2 Shun Yo Sho 6:00
A3 Acid Reaction 5:46
B1 Ken Sen 3:51
B2 Utpala 4:52
B3 Quid Pro Quo 5:27
B4 Sai Ka U 5:05

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Eddie Gomez
Drums – Steve Gadd
Piano, Keyboards – Masahiko Satoh

About this release

Portrait ‎– RK 44194 (US)

Recorded by Yoshihiro Suzuki at CBS/SONY Shinanomiachi Studios, Tokyo in November, 1985 by using SONY 3324 Digital Recorder.

Thanks to snobb for the addition

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snobb
In early 1985, Masahiko Satoh recorded, with his newly formed American trio (with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd), an excellent progressive fusion album, "As If...", one of the best of the genre during the mid 80s. The main problem with that recording was (and still is) that it was released on the tiny Japanese Interface label (though distributed throughout Japan by Nippon Columbia). As a result, this great music wasn't noticed at all (you can't find this album in Satoh's discography, allmusic or discogs even now). Generally, only the heavy fans know this album ever existed.

Most probably at the time of its release, it was noticed by the people at Sony CBS, so just a half a year later, the same trio recorded another fusion album, "Amorphism", this time under the giant Sony umbrella. Even more - it was released on Sony's American subsidiary, "Portrait", in the States! Big label support and an introduction to the world's largest musical market was an excellent thing, but unfortunately, there was a huge problem with this album. Sony recorded and produced it expecting commercial success in the States, that means they "adapted" their musical material for that.

Even if from the very first sounds, it seems "Amorphis" promises to continue the great previous album's music, very soon you will feel like you've been fooled, seriously fooled! First of all, this music was carefully cleaned from any possible "complexities". On all the fast tempo compositions, the rhythm section plays straightforward heavyweight fusion (obviously influenced by a rock-jazz sound). Masahiko plays plasticky synths with polished synthetic sounds, while some added slow tempo songs sound like sentimental kitsch ballads.

Satoh never was as great a composer as keyboardist, on "As If..." the bigger part of the compositions were classy jazz standards, "Amorphis" contains Satoh originals only. So - the fantastic idea to introduce this great trio's advanced accessible music to a wide audience was totally destroyed. "Amorphis" is perfectly titled, a toothless synthetic fusion product released for the American market in accordance with the worst market standard. Compared with its predecessor, this album has only two things in common - the deep warm Eddie Gomez double bass sound on his rare solos, and the usual Japanese excellent sound mix. None of this was enough to make this album a real event in such a difficult market. Even though being the most successful commercial album ever released by Satoh as a leader, this release obviously didn't fulfill the label's expectations. This great Japanese-American trio broke up after the release of just one more (live) album.

Great musicians still save this album from being a total disaster, so it doesn't sound as bad as many mid 80s releases. Just comparing what the same musicians demonstrated just a few months ago, one can see how unused their potential abilities are here on "Amorphis".

Don't make a mistake - don't start your first meeting with Satoh's music with "Amorphis" (being the easiest to find Satoh album in the States, the risk is really big). For a good progressive fusion album, go for "As If...", Satoh's most experimental works all come from 1970-1973.

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