I stumbled over this CD a few weeks ago, and immediately ordered it from some second-hand dealer in the US: International Sad Hits – Volume 1: Altaic Group. Four artists from different countries (2x Japan, Korea, Turkey) and very different music style, but connected in one thing: That they don’t fit into the happy-peppy culture of AKB48, JPOP, KPOP and the like, but singers and songwriters that probe the depths of sadness. With two of my favorite Japanese appearing in the list (Tomokawa Kazuki and Mikami Kan), there was no way I could not buy this CD.
The four artist combined in this excellent CD are: Fikret Kızılok, a Turkish musician, singer and songwriter. Quoting from the pamphlet:
However, in 1983 Kızılok returned with one of his most important and best albums: Zaman Zaman (Time to time). […] These albums presented an alternative to the horrible pop scene emerging in Turkey — they criticized the political situation, the so-called intellectuals, and the pop stars.
The Korean artist is 김두수 (Kim Doo Soo), who was the great surprise of the CD for me. The sadness and beauty that is transmitted through is music is special. The pamphlet of the CD states:
The strictness of his home atmosphere suffocated him, and in defiance against his father he dropped out, and walked along the roads. He said later that, “Hatred towards the world, and the emptiness of life overwhelmed me. I lived my life with alcohol every day.”
After some problems due to political crisis, and fierce reactions to his song “Bohemian” (included) made him disappear into the mountains for 10 years, only to return with even better music.
Author Tatematsu Wahei has described Tomokawa as “a man standing naked, his sensibility utterly exposed and tingling.” It’s an accurate response to a creativity that seems unmediated by embarrassment, voraciously feeding off the artist’s personal concern.
The forth artist is again from Japan, Mikami Kan, a well known wild man from the Japanese music scene. After is debut at the Nakatsugawa All-Japan Folk Jamboree in 1971, he was something like a star for some years, but without a record deal his popularity decreased steadily.
During this period his songwriting gradually altered, becoming more dense, surreal and uncompromisingly personal.
Every song on this CD is a masterpiece by itself, but despite me being a great fan of Tomokawa, my favorite is Kim Doo Soo here, with songs that grip your heart and soul, stunningly beauty and sad at the same time.