Satoshi Tomiie: New Day
Abstract Architecture

Talk about auspicious beginnings: the first single released by Japan producer-DJ Satoshi Tomiie was his 1989 co-production with Chicago's Frankie Knuckles “Tears,” now considered one of house music's defining moments. In the years since its release, Tomiie has worked with artists such as composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and singer Robert Owens, plus garnered praise for 3D, his 2006 three-disc collection on Renaissance, and his 2007 double-disc contribution to the label's Master Series.

Yet while Tomiie's been involved in a steady stream of remix work, DJ gigs, and other projects over the past twenty-five years, New Day is surprisingly only his second full-length artist album. He's certainly put a great deal of effort and care into it, as the twelve tracks composing its eighty minutes are a polished and well-crafted lot. Purposefully wanting to steer away from the idea of a singles-heavy set, Tomiie instead approached the album as a wide-ranging overview of styles that have influenced him throughout his career. So while house might form the foundation of the project, elements of jazz, acid, classical, and techno also work their way into the material. A typical track finds Tomiie supplementing a midtempo house pulse with layers of percussive accents, synth textures, and melodic wisps, the result being a generally soothing setpiece rich in stimulating detail and colour. While there are club-styled tracks on the project (the greater majority during its second half), he's clearly aiming for something more sophisticated than your standard, run-of-the-mill raver.

Only one of the dozen tracks includes vocals, specifically the trance-styled title track, which features John Schmersal (a touring member of the Caribou band) meeting melodic challenges that require him to jump between upper and lower registers with apparent ease. Tomiie's jazz leanings come into play during “Odyssey,” an otherwise slinky deep house setting that includes jazzy keyboard soloing from the producer, while his classical persona emerges within “Sinfonia,” a brief, strings-drenched prelude to the ten-minute closer “Cucina Rossa.” The set's clubbiest moment arrives, not surprisingly, in “Thursday, 2AM,” which stokes a generous amount of acid-house heat during its lithe, six-minute run, though cuts such as “Momento Magico” (its strings-laden disco groove punctuated by greasy organ stabs, of all things), “0814,” and “Calm Me Up” possess their own share of dancefloor drive. At eighty minutes, New Day might be a long album (a natural double-album set in vinyl terms), but it's also quality material from beginning to end.

June 2015