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Welcome to Stomu Yamashta's kaleidoscopic musical cosmos

Seasons Island Albums 1972-1976 is the first ever box set from cult Japanese prog-rock percussion maestro Stomu Yamashta

Stomu Yamashta: Seasons Island Albums 1972-1976 cover art
(Image: © Esoteric/Cherry Red)

A cult name in prog rock, jazz fusion and modern classical circles in the 1970s, Japanese percussionist and composer Stomu Yamashta is probably best known for featuring on the soundtrack to the Bowie-starring film The Man Who Fell To Earth, and on the non-rock front he has also collaborated with Peter Maxwell Davies, Robert Altman, the Royal Ballet and many more. 

Spanning Yamashta’s fertile early years in Europe, this first ever box set of his work maps a kaleidoscopic musical cosmos, from Miles Davis-style electric squelch to primitive proto-techno-beat collages, trippy avant-lounge jams and even a burst of Vivaldi given the full Wendy Carlos synth treatment. 

Among the tracks familiar from Bowie’s mind-bending sci-fi classic are the churning Krautish mantra Mandala, the mournfully chiming Memory Of Hiroshima and the lovely, spare, twinkling tone poem Wind Words

The last two sister albums in this seven-disc set showcase Yamashta’s supergroup project Go, featuring Steve Winwood and Klaus Schulze, which moved him into more commercial prog-lite terrain, with bluesy soft-rock songs nestled alongside stately orchestral arrangements by another notable Bowie collaborator, Paul Buckmaster. 

These are the weakest collections in an otherwise excellent anthology, although the final Parisian concert disc does at least add some pleasing extra rhythmic poke and vintage analogue-era audience cheers.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.