Light as a Feather

Yuji Imamura & Air
Three Blind Mice : 1977

Yuji Imamura, congas, tabla, percussion; Yasuo Shimura, flute, soprano sax, voice, synthesizer, percussion, electronics; Renkichi Hayashi, electric guitar, kalimba, electronics; Nobuyoshi Ino, electric bass, guitar, percussion, electronics; Hiroshi Murakami; drums, percussion.

Call it bliss-out psychedelic electric jazz, but really the sole recording from Yuji Imamura and Air is simply beyond category. It’s an effortless concoction of layered percussion, processed brass, burbling bass, flowing grooves, echoing ambiance, piercing flute, swelling windchimes, tape effects, and rumbling synths. The sort of adventurous sonic fusion that had vanished from the U.S. by this time.

The structure of this 18-minute track isn’t immediately evident. It morphs between various peaks and valleys, equally comfortable generating gorgeous stasis and propulsive grooves. But there’s an internal cohesion and intense pleasure principle at work here that should win over even hardcore skeptics.

The 1970s had its fill of bands named Air: The collective jazz trio featuring Henry Threadgill; the back-up band for Herbie Mann; the French electronic act whose sound hailed from that decade even if its members did not. But we think Yuji Imamura and his cohorts deserve ownership of the name for their elemental embodiment of lightness.

There’s nothing complicated about enjoying this music. Breath in, breath out. This is Air.

Category Yuji Imamura