Quick, name the last musician you heard of who was a hikikomori. No, people like R. Stevie Moore don't count. Enter Clive Tanaka Y Su Orquesta, the project of the profoundly mysterious hikikomori whose name is in the band. After years of isolation and self-imposed musical pedagogy, his debut LP Jet Set Siempre No. 1 made a small push last year (a video was featured on Altered Zones). Now reissued on vinyl through Burger Records on limited edition gold viny, 50 copies all of which are now sold out, I got a copy, and aqua vinyl (second run available) and possibly remastered, the music within has never sounded better. While the distinct shadow of the 1980s looms large over Jet Set Siempre, and even traces of that now-dead genre of 'chillwave' can be discerned when filtered through that lens, each moment of this album brims with an uncanny ability to craft glorious electronic music.

When Tanaka's album first dropped last March, it was decidedly bizarre. Cassette only, limited edition, no digital plans, and with almost no promotion whatsoever, the album went unnoticed by not only myself but also the Internet for some time. Hell, the first time I heard of the project was some time in August of 2010 through a blog I check on regularly. After listening to the tape for a month (and ultimately buying a copy for myself, it's only $6!), I found myself entranced and infatuated with the sounds I heard. Washes of vocoder, thick kick drums, even sample mangling par excellence could all be discerned and enjoyed often in the same song. Now with much more attention and a successful run on vinyl, Jet Set Siempre can finally get the praise it deserves. This is not the sort of album you can just expect to hit you all the time, every second of every song, for every beat. At least, not for side B ('For Romance').Actually, the B-side is probably where some of the best composition lies in Tanaka's craft. 'International Heartbreaker' grooves on gilded clouds propelled by a simple synth line and dual drum kits keeping time in a most pleasantly laid back way. Only when the new layers get added in does the song unfold itself into its true form, one dominated by clever use of subtraction, addition, and leading into new parts. Clive Tanaka proves himself to be nothing short of a master for timing, launching each new part at exactly the right time to create the mood as indicated by the title. Don't expect 'Skinjob' and 'The Fourth Magi' to ever become the next big dance floor slow jams, but do expect them to get stuck in your head. For weeks on end. With no resolve. Side A ('For Dance') is all killer, topping the second half's output with precise delivery, ridiculously adept vocoder, talkbox, and songwriting skills at the forefront. Opener 'All Night, All Right' coasts on a neo-house feel through which Tanaka's distinct vocoder, thickly compressed drums, and ear worm inducing synths translate a simple, almost banal message into a rallying cry to fucking move. '"'ve been watching you, babe, all night/The way you move your body is just right," has never seemed so joyously organic in such a purely electronic shell. There's soul in that robotized voice yet.

The real draw here, though, is in the remaining four songs of side A. 'I Want You (So Bad)' is achingly sad in its message while remaining intense and hugely danceable, hinged on more of Tanaka's uniquely insular method of drum programming and cleverly disguised theoretical perfection (his chord changes and lead ins are flawless). Lead 'single' (read: first song to get a music video) 'Neu Chicago' may be the briefest vocal track, but is clearly a strong contender for a 7" and radio single given its straightforward boom-bap and two-chord swivel verse. When the bridge finally drops with ambient guitar and Aphex drum rushes, it's as natural as it is necessary to break up the A-B structure. 'Brack Lain' is a different beast altogether, though; breaking away from the Daft Punk-meets-lord knows what attitude of side A thus far. While things begin typically enough, the distorted bass ostinato and clattering drums jump out forcefully at the listener, taking center stage before the vocal chops enter and turn the song into what sounds like Yasutaka Nakata channeling Gaspard Auge. Once again the result is stunning and all too short lived.

Now the question remains: in a world and society where severe social withdraw and acute phobias are seen as a crippling deficiency or an excuse, what has seclusion taught Clive Tanaka? If the story is true, and he only listened to his sister's old cast off cassettes before teaching himself on a Casio, then the results are impressive. Tanaka has learned how to channel the sadness, loneliness, and anxiety of the hikikomori into a huge creative source, a move that shows not only true musical skill, but a good mind at work. Despite his intense privacy and secretive nature, Jet Set Siempre should be a secret no longer. From the deceivingly club-ready opener to the downtrodden closer, each song bristles with surprisingly mature originality and emotional depth not usually seen in electronic dance music let alone on a debut album. Now, is it too rash to shortlist this as one of the top reissues of the year?

Photobucket