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Takemitsu / Ichiyanagi - Percussions in Colors / Yoshihara - Super Hot Stamper

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper

Takemitsu / Ichiyanagi
Percussions in Colors / Yoshihara

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

  • A rare, limited edition Direct to Disc Japanese import pressing of experimental works performed by Sumire Yoshihara, here with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • So transparent, dynamic and real, this copy raises the bar for the sound of this kind of unique percussive music on vinyl
  • Loads of presence, with richness and fullness that showed us just how good the Direct to Disc medium can be at its best

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings / More Audiophile Recordings

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*NOTE: This record was not noisy enough to rate our M-- to EX++ grade, but it's not quite up to our standards for Mint Minus Minus either. If you're looking for quiet vinyl, this is probably not the best copy for you.

This original import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Percussions in Colors Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1978
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Standard Operating Procedures

What are the criteria by which a record like this should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and so on down through the list.

When we can get all, or most all, of the qualities above to come together on any given side we provisionally award it a grade of "contender." Once we’ve been through all our copies on one side we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides matched up.

Record shootouts may not be rocket science, but they're a science of a kind, one with strict protocols developed over the course of many years to ensure that the sonic grades we assign to our Hot Stampers are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.

What We're Listening For On Percussions in Colors

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Powerful bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

Side One

  • Munari By Munari - Toru Takemitsu

Side Two

  • Arrangements (For Percussion Player) - Toshi Ichiyanagi

Toru Takemitsu

Tōru Takemitsu (8 October 1930 – 20 February 1996) was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Largely self-taught, Takemitsu was admired for the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre. He is known for combining elements of oriental and occidental philosophy and for fusing sound with silence and tradition with innovation.

He composed several hundred independent works of music, scored more than ninety films and published twenty books. He was also a founding member of the Jikken Kōbō (Experimental Workshop) in Japan, a group of avant-garde artists who distanced themselves from academia and whose collaborative work is often regarded among the most influential of the 20th century.

His 1957 Requiem for string orchestra attracted international attention, led to several commissions from across the world and established his reputation as the leading 20th-century Japanese composer. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honours and the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award is named after him.

During his time with Jikken Kōbō, Takemitsu came into contact with the experimental work of John Cage; but when the composer Toshi Ichiyanagi returned from his studies in America in 1961, he gave the first Japanese performance of Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra. This left a "deep impression" on Takemitsu: he recalled the impact of hearing the work when writing an obituary for Cage, 31 years later. This encouraged Takemitsu in his use of indeterminate procedures and graphic-score notation, for example in the graphic scores of Ring (1961), Corona for pianist(s) and Corona II for string(s) (both 1962). In these works each performer is presented with cards printed with coloured circular patterns which are freely arranged by the performer to create "the score."

Although the immediate influence of Cage's procedures did not last in Takemitsu's music—Coral Island, for example for soprano and orchestra (1962) shows significant departures from indeterminate procedures partly as a result of Takemitsu's renewed interest in the music of Anton Webern—certain similarities between Cage's philosophies and Takemitsu's thought remained. For example, Cage's emphasis on timbres within individual sound-events, and his notion of silence "as plenum rather than vacuum," can be aligned with Takemitsu's interest in ma. Furthermore, Cage's interest in Zen practice (through his contact with Zen scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki) seems to have resulted in a renewed interest in the East in general, and ultimately alerted Takemitsu to the potential for incorporating elements drawn from Japanese traditional music into his composition:

I must express my deep and sincere gratitude to John Cage. The reason for this is that in my own life, in my own development, for a long period I struggled to avoid being "Japanese," to avoid "Japanese" qualities. It was largely through my contact with John Cage that I came to recognize the value of my own tradition.

For Takemitsu, as he explained later in a lecture in 1988, one performance of Japanese traditional music stood out:

One day I chanced to see a performance of the Bunraku puppet theater and was very surprised by it. It was in the tone quality, the timbre, of the futazao shamisen, the wide-necked shamisen used in Bunraku, that I first recognized the splendor of traditional Japanese music. I was very moved by it and I wondered why my attention had never been captured before by this Japanese music.

Composers whom Takemitsu cited as influential in his early work include Claude Debussy, Anton Webern, Edgard Varèse, Arnold Schoenberg, and Olivier Messiaen. Messiaen in particular was introduced to him by fellow composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, and remained a lifelong influence. Although Takemitsu's wartime experiences of nationalism initially discouraged him from cultivating an interest in traditional Japanese music, he showed an early interest in "... the Japanese Garden in color spacing and form ...." The formal garden of the kaiyu-shiki interested him in particular.

He expressed his unusual stance toward compositional theory early on, his lack of respect for the "trite rules of music, rules that are ... stifled by formulas and calculations"; for Takemitsu it was of far greater importance that "sounds have the freedom to breathe. ... Just as one cannot plan his life, neither can he plan music."

Takemitsu's sensitivity to instrumental and orchestral timbre can be heard throughout his work, and is often made apparent by the unusual instrumental combinations he specified. This is evident in works such as November Steps, that combine traditional Japanese instruments, shakuhachi and biwa, with a conventional Western orchestra. It may also be discerned in his works for ensembles that make no use of traditional instruments, for example Quotation of Dream (1991), Archipelago S., for 21 players (1993), and Arc I & II (1963–66/1976). In these works, the more conventional orchestral forces are divided into unconventional "groups." Even where these instrumental combinations were determined by the particular ensemble commissioning the work, "Takemitsu's genius for instrumentation (and genius it was, in my view) ...," in the words of Oliver Knussen, "... creates the illusion that the instrumental restrictions are self-imposed."

Toshi Ichiyanagi

Toshi Ichiyanagi (4 February 1933 – 7 October 2022) was a Japanese avant-garde composer and pianist. One of the leading composers in Japan during the postwar era, Ichiyanagi worked in a range of genres, composing Western-style operas and orchestral and chamber works, as well as compositions using traditional Japanese instruments. Ichiyanagi is known for incorporating avant-garde techniques into his works, such as chance music, extended technique, and nontraditional scoring. Ichiyanagi was married to artist Yoko Ono from 1956 to 1962.

Ichiyanagi was born in Kobe on 4 February 1933. He studied composition with Tomojirō Ikenouchi, Kishio Hirao, and John Cage. From 1954 to 1960, Ichiyanagi resided in New York City, where he studied at the Juilliard School and the New School for Social Research.

Ichiyanagi was married to Yoko Ono from 1956 to 1962. His decision to return to Japan, while Ono remained in New York, rendered the marriage untenable.

Returning to Japan in 1960, Ichiyanagi collaborated with the anti-art collective Neo-Dada Organizers.

Many of Ichiyanagi's early scores use graphic notation: Sapporo (1963) is one of the better known examples. Another notable early work is the 1960 composition Kaiki, which combined Japanese instruments, shō and koto, and western instruments, harmonica and saxophone. Another work, Distance (1961), required the performers to play from a distance of three meters from their instruments. Anima 7 (1964) stated that chosen action should be performed "as slowly as possible." In 1963, Ichiyanagi co-founded an avant-garde music collective called New Direction along with fellow composers Takehisa Kosugi, Yuji Takahashi, and Kenji Kobayashi, and others. The group disbanded in the late 1960s when most of its members relocated to New York, while Ichiyanagi remained in Japan.

Ichiyanagi's later works shifted away from experimental means toward more conventional forms, including symphonies, operas and concertos. He was the recipient of the 33rd Suntory Music Award (2001) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award (2018). He has been honored with Japan's Order of Culture.