Seychelles Album Review

In 2023, I listened to a lot of music! I made it my goal to listen to 3 albums a week or so. I will write a specific blog post about that in the coming days, but the single best album I discovered, I will talk about today

Seychelles is an album from Masayoshi Takanaka that was released in 1976. Most people consider it one of the most important City Pop or Jazz Fusion albums that came out of Japan in the 70s. Im going to go through every track and give my thoughts on them.

Listen along on YT here

Oh! Tengo Suerte

Oh! Tengo Suerte is the introductory track for this album. It starts off with a refreshing acoustic guitar intro. It is probably the thing that turned me off the album the first time I listened to it, as unless you understand the context of the whole album, I can see that it could be considered jarring

The main sections of this song are definitely a more light hearted, free flowing composition of smooth jazz elements with some very light elements of South American jazz. The guitars are quite heavily compressed which makes them pop quite nicely, firmly positioning them as the focal point of the track.

The standout part of this track is the bassline. It is incredibly busy, but in a way that is hard to notice without your attention being drawn to it. It does a good job following the guitar melody and establishing, or reinforcing the harmony that the rhythm guitars are trying to create. The bass isn’t quite as heavily compressed as the guitars, and thus, tends to sit a bit further back in the mix, which i would normally say is a shame, but I would hesitate to change anything in the mixing of this track since I think it is mixed perfectly! The drum fills sit quite close to the bass too, and really do help keep the chill energy going from section to section

Also of note is the use of a marimba in parts of this song to add some color to some sections. Its really subtle, but it is also, again, one of the best parts in this track. It does a fun job pairing with the guitar in the outro solo. The outro also blends into the next track on this album, quite nicely.

Check out the music video for this here and I hope you get a strong tropical vibe that can carry on for the rest of the album

Tokyo Reggie

This is a more energetic City-Pop-esque track. Like the last track, it is tuned slightly sharp, which annoyed me alot when trying to learn this… 447Hz for future reference.

The intro to this track is really light and almost floaty, which is nicely continues by the funky, wahed guitar playing chords in the right ear. Listening to it now, the right ear does feel a bit empty but you can definitely hear some percussion there, solidifying the island vibe

Again the bassline stands pretty proudly in this track by itself, as it does a good job framing all the chromatic runs and the structure of the track as a whole. It has a almost solo section under the guitar solo, where it plays a riff in a bunch of different octaves, really giving a feast for the ears.

This is also one of the few tracks with prominent vocals. I have not a single clue what they are singing about, but I almost don’t care. The other lead section; The guitar solo, is also the first time in this album i think where you can hear Takanakas note choice of almost “campy” runs. Runs that are easily hummable and make the perfect ear worms.

There is a cool animation I found for this track which I thought gave a good vibe for the album. I hope if you have gotten this far in the album, you really are feeling the tropical vibes!

Shinkirou no Shima E

This is where the album slows down a little bit. This track is much less tropical than the others and focuses more on a stripped down, low energy vibe. I get some slight country vibes from the note choice here

The Track itself has some really nice layering to it, with some organs playing harmony lightly over the guitar. As the song goes on more layering happens and more energy is injected into the track. Some nice vocal lines really add some direction to the song in places, keeping the harmony interesting and allowing repetition to sound super nice

There’s a common section in this song, where it drops a wee bit, for the next section to immediately pick the slack back up. Other than that, this is a very nice song, but also one where there isn’t nearly as much to say. Im just a huge fan of the chromatic lead runs in it

Akogare no Seychelles Shotou

My absolute favorite track on this album. It goes a back a bit to the tropical vibe, while also keeping the vibes low and chill

There are 3 main sections to this song, and each one seems entirely bizarre compared to the others. My favorite is the 3rd line, which is certainly my favorite bit of melody on this album. Starting at about 1:31 in the track, its just some nice funky hummable melody that is an absolute earworm for me.

The track is for the most part another layering track where each time a section comes around, its in a different octave of the orchestration is different. There is also alot of non diatonic work in this track, which confuses me everytime I listen to it. Mostly at the end of the 2nd main section.

The only other thing I can say is how dancable the drums make the song. The offbeats really do lift the song alot, keeping it feeling really bouncy. It especially sounds fantastic as the song goes on more. It keeps everything on track, especially as the song starts to dissociate at the end, where the bass keeps climbing and the vocals keep coming in to punctuate the harmony. Truly elating

Funkee Mah-Chan

Probably my least favorite song on the album, but mostly because it pulls me out of the tropical vibes of the rest of the album, and puts me firmly in some pocket funk. As an individual track, its very very good, but it doesn’t belong on seychelles in my opinion

I do love the use of soul/funk orchestration on this track. The drums are done very cleanly, and give a very lively, almost disco feel to the rhythm section. I get huge “Sissy Strut” sort of vibes from this.

The harmonies through out this track are just tasty. There is no other way to describe them. Both the Autowah’ed guitar solo and the Sax solo both are very basic and let the choice of sound do the work more than they let the melody do it, which I think is an excellent way for it to be done. Its all very listenable and enjoyable

10/10 would boogie to again, but get the fuck off my tropical album

Sayonara… Fuji-san

Oh boy. This one also isn’t overly tropical, but it is a very well orchestrated bit of city pop. The harmony is interesting and easy to follow and the lyrics are sung to a very simple melody with guitar tastefully adding embellishments where needed

As the song goes on, more and more elements are added to the track, which are then also removed to make more space for other elements. The transition from guitar solo into a bridge, and back into a verse feels human, like walking outside into a chill night before warming up in your car.

The only criticism I have here is the song is very repetitive, although thats also one of the biggest strengths of the song; that you can hum along to sections of the song you haven’t heard the context for yet. The outro is obviously where im basing this off. It’s alot of repetition

Bird Island Kyuukou

This song is just Funkee Mah-Chan if it you replaced alot of the funk elements with more Jazzy approaches. The main harmonies here are repetitive, but interesting enough where the harmony under the lines changes the meaning of the notes

Again, we hear alot of Takanaka’s camp guitar lines here, stuff where you cant help but scrunch up your face with joy as you feel the jazz. There’s alot on this track that took me 3 or 4 listens before I actually heard properly. Plenty of chromatic and non-diatonic lines.

The bass is pretty dope, but nothing to write home about, since it mostly just follows the guitar for the funk, or the root notes of the chords. But it does serve the song very well and keeps the song fresh the whole way through

Tropical Birds

Certainly the weirdest track on the album, it could have come off a Camel or Yes album as far as i can tell

It starts with some very nice acapella, of 3 or 4 voices singing in harmony. It almost has an African sort of sound. It’s very uplifting

… Then we get to the prog soup

There is alot to be excited about in this track. The bass is super punchy, and lays a fantastic foundation for a soaring guitar melody to start of the prog soup. The guitar, again, is heavily compressed and clean, pushing it straight to the front, never getting lost in the mix.

Each time we come back around to the main riff, we add something special, and then jump straight into something else. Be it a sax solo, or another key change, or a new section. The first sax solo is something straight out of King Crimson, that stays around just long enough to grab your attention before a Rhodes solo comes along, which stays long enough before a string section comes in to punctuate a new part of the song, to then drop out and head back into some clean af shredding and harmony play

There’s so much more in this song, but id just be narrating. Definitely a stand out track. Id say get TF off my Tropical album, But Funkee is the scapegoat for that

Final thoughts

Seychelles… 10/10 One of the best albums i think I have ever listened to. I think i have listened to this album, cover to cover, 30 times or so at this point, and each time i do, I hear new things to be excited about!

Best paired with a hot day, a cool breeze, and an ice cold juice

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