In the late 1990s while on a trip collecting CDs for review, I had the good fortune of meeting Tony Morley at the Leaf Records office in Brixton. The CDs he was releasing and promoting via his promotions company No.9 PR, helped to broaden my horizons with an eclectic mix of leftfield electronic and ambient experimental music. Of the many fascinating artists he introduced me to, Burnt Friedman and the Japanese composer, Susumu Yokota stood out as something very special. That day I received two of Susumu Yokota’s albums, Magic Thread (1998) and Image (1993-98), the latter being a compilation of earlier recordings.
Susumu Yokota – A Song Produced While Floating Alone on Christmas Day from the album Love Or Die (2007)
Though both albums made a deep impression, I wouldn’t count them among my favourites today. But there’s plenty to choose from. Yokota’s output was prolific, releasing no less than 23 studio albums under his own name and more under pseudonyms such as Anima Mundi, Ebi, Prism, Ringo, Stevia, Ying & Yang; as well as another three released simply as Yokota. He also released an album with Rothko, Distant Sounds Of Summer (2005). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susumu_Yokota_discography
Susumu Yokota – Genshi from the album Sakura (1999)
I have eight of his albums including two favourites, Sakura and Symbol. These two albums are among my favourite albums of all-time and are rarely away from the CD player whether at home or in my car. They epitomise Susumu Yokota‘s music – beautiful, serene and at times thought-provoking. His music was experimental and at times avant-garde, but always it seemed interesting.
Susumu Yokota – Kodomotachi from the album Symbol (2005)
A death is always sad. But when someone so talented dies at such a young age it is of course, more tragic. Susumu Yokota was just 54 years old when he died on 27th March 2015 after “a long period of medical treatment.”. In these days of instant news across global social platforms, I also found it sad that Yokota’s death wasn’t reported until several months later. But this was apparently down to his family not knowing his music contacts until recently. His family released the following message:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Susumu Yokota who passed away on 27th March, 2015 at the age of 54 after a long period of medical treatment. We are deeply thankful to the people who listened to and supported Susumu’s music during his lifetime. Please accept our sincere apologies for the delay in this announcement, as we were until recently unacquainted with Susumu’s music industry contacts.”
Susumu Yokota – Saku from the album, Sakura (1999)
His last studio album Lover, was released in 2012.
Susumu Yokota also released techno and house music and was a renowned DJ too. But it’s his experimental ambient, electronic music that I will always love and so fondly remember.
As a tribute to Susumu Yokota, The Leaf Label and Lo Recordings have joined forces to release My Energy, a six track EP featuring selected highlights from Yokota’s varied and acclaimed back catalogue, most of which were originally released on his own Skintone label. The EP is available now on Bandcamp as a ‘Pay what you want’ release with all proceeds going to Animal Refuge Kansai. Yokota was a lifelong animal lover, and the charity was chosen at his family’s request.
DOWNLOAD MY ENERGY EP HERE
Susumu Yokota: 1961 – 2015 R.I.P.