“Aoi Galasu Dama” by Yoshiko Sai

A cinematic and otherworldly glimpse into the psychedelic soul and funk of 1970s Japan.

As its title suggests, Time Capsule’s Nippon Psychedelic Soul 1970— 1979 compilation offers listeners a glimpse into a fascinating bygone era in Japanese music where trippy vibes and soulful voices reigned supreme. (Or as they put it, “The kaleidoscopic psychedelia of 1970s Japan captured a fragile and fertile moment as the country sought its future in funk grooves, heavy reverb, and lyrical hallucinations.”)

The entire compilation is worth checking out, especially Hiroshi Kamayatsu and Jun Fukamachi’s songs, but for my money, Yoshiko Sai’s “Aoi Galasu Dama” is the clear highlight.

Originally appearing on her third album, 1977’s Taiji No Yume, “Aoi Galasu Dama” — which translates as “Blue Glass Ball” — features Sai’s gorgeous vocals backed by cinematic string arrangements (the moment beginning at the 2:12 mark is simply sublime), smooth grooves, and exotic instrumentation (both acoustic and electronic). Akira Sakajima’s production adds another layer of otherworldliness — check out those panning guitar riffs — that makes the song all the more captivating.

If “Aoi Galasu Dama” piques your curiosity, Tokyo’s P-Vine Records has released several live recordings, including a pair of performances from 2014 and 2015 that prove a few decades did nothing to diminish Sai’s voice.

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