Saturday, April 4, 2015

STOMU YAMASH'TA – Red Buddha (LP-1971)

Label: London Rec. – GP-1048
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Japan / Released: 1971
Style: Experimental, Contemporary
Recorded April 11, 12, 14; 1971, Tokyo, Japan.
Liner Notes – Hikaru Hayashi
Originally released by King Record Co. Ltd. in 1971. Tokyo
Composed By, Arranged By – Stomu Yamash'ta

A  -  Red Buddha ................................... 15:27
B  -  As Expanding As ............................ 16:01

percussion – Stomu Yamash'ta

This Japanese percussionist/keyboardist started in the early 70's, but first started working in France for avant-garde theatres, then would move on to the UK, where his real solo career would start. Red Buddha is the first document, and it is probably Stomu's least accessible, but nevertheless a stunning achievement as there is mostly just percussion instruments making the two sides of this album. Both tracks make the duration of their respective vinyl face between 15 and 16 minutes.

While the execution of the music is stunning and very impressive, the compositions are anything but easy; with the tracks often nearing "musique concrete" with all of those tuned percussion instruments. The tracks are not improvisations, the music being clearly written and it was for the Red Buddha theatre in Paris. Difficult to describe this type of music, but it's sometimes dissonant, modern classical, percussive and exclusive of those not paying close attention to it...

Stomu Yamash'ta hit it big with his project GO that included well renowned musicians such as Mike Shrieve, Klaus Schulze, Steve Winwood and Al di Meola.
Well as much as I like the GO project, I am much more enthralled by this early offering of his called 'Red Buddha'. Now many of you out there probably know Yamash'ta as a synthesist, but fact of the matter is that he started out as a percussionist, a damn fine one at that!

Red Buddha is actually the name of a theatre in Paris, to which this album was recorded for. Yamash'ta had been studying the jazz traditions of the west, and they had brought him to Europe where a new explorative mindset seemed to adorn every major city's sparkling undergrowth. Paris, in particular, being one of the hot spots.
The music is all instrumental and all about the beat, the drums. There are no synths, no guitars no nothing besides a boot-full of percussion instruments, some more exotic than others. The end result amounts to something like the expression one finds in the electronic quarters with big spacious slabs of sound coming awfully close to the kind you'll find on an early Klaus Schulze record...only it's all accomplished through rhythms - snaking and twirling.

What really sets Red Buddha apart from other such proto stomp records is the way Yamash'ta seems to have fiddled around with sound treatments. Either by tuning a drum a certain way or simply by placing the mic somewhere groovy. It works though, damn how it works! Everything from soft hand drum splashes to strange modal sounding entities that flicker about like lonely candlesticks sitting on a windy field.

The first time you hear this you'll probably write it off as a late hippie project with some longhaired guy banging away on pots and pans. Please try again is all I can say. Contrary to common sense the music is fully orchestrated. The LP comes with the original sheet music. Sheet music?!?!? Oh yes. All of this rhythmic mayhem started out as a wee brainworm inside the enigmatic mind of Yamash'ta...........then again, when you return to this album you pick up new shadings - new splashes.....and woe and behold something akin to melodies. The 10th time you listen the world opens up and every fibre of your body twitches and bobs to the beat and suddenly it seems as if those elusive melodies you'd been sniffing earlier on now are way upfront, in your face and bizarrely beautiful. A vast tapestry of beats - like a thousand hearts beating in tune from obscure angles and different corners of the world.

Think of Red Buddha as one of those tricky 3D pictures you have to be cross-eyed to see: 'OH A DINOSAUR!!!'. You better believe it, and what a dinosaur! This is without a doubt my favourite Yamash'ta record. It eclipses everything that comes after. Why? Ingenuity, imagination and execution. Red Buddha should be mandatory listening to anyone interested in the early progressive scene, and here I'm talking progressive with a huge P - yet without ever becoming tedious academic music that only speaks to mathematicians and Scottish hermits. This one always manages to refuel my senses. Like a fiery phoenix or Buddha doing the jig - you decide.
_ Review by Guldbamsen

Great progressive/jazz percussion album.

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. STOMU YAMASH'TA – Red Buddha (LP-1971)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC+Artwork


  2. I guess he really loved his "Flokati" vest back in the 70s. Who knows, it may become fashionable once again. Thanks, Vitko!

  3. I have his 1972 LP of works by Takemitsu, Henze & Maxwell-Davies which is probably the "tedious academic music that only speaks to mathematicians and Scottish hermits" that the last review is talking about: put me down as a 'hermit'! The cover always put me off as some sort of 'hippie' new age thing. Reading the reviews has convinced me otherwise. Looking forward to hearing this. Many thanks.


    1. Yes, what is a good word :)
      Eh, do not worry, beneath this cover, can not be bad music.

  4. I always liked his Come to the Edge album on Island. The later stuff was okay, but I'm partial to his earlier work. Thx for posting!

  5. this is amazing stuff. can anyone recommend anything similar on here?

    1. Try to find some of these Yamash'ta albums:

      1. Stomu Yamash'ta / Masahiko Sato - Metempsychosis (Composition for Percussion and Jazz Orchestra) - 1971
      2. Stomu Yamashta & The Horizon - Sunrise From West Sea (1971)
      3. Stomu Yamash'ta & Come To The Edge - Floating Music (1972)
      4. Stomu Yamash'ta's Red Budda Theatre - The Soundtrack from 'The Man From The East' (1973)

      All the best.

    2. Thanks a lot! In return, something I like which is similar: Kaija Saariaho - Six Japanese Gardens. The 2002 performance on Ina records is my favorite, the percussion seems to be tuned in a pleasing way that I haven't heard on other recordings.

  6. Thanks Vitko! As unmode, I also recomend the wroks by Saariaho.

  7. I don't have the right words to express my deep gratitude for the amazing work you are doing here. Unfortunately because of my economical situation I would never had the chance to discover and listen for these beautiful records. Also my local record shop is bankrupt now and it is about to close forever. As musician myself this situation is not good at all for me, but you man... you are saving my music life side!
    I really hope to have the money one day to buy all this music (I used to be a huge music records collector).So far your service is so much appreciated here and you cannot even imagine how much.

    Thanks for everything,

    1. I'm glad you're here to find some kind of satisfaction. I wish you all the best and hope that your record store waiting for better days.