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Junichi Hoshino is one of the most revered producers working in Tokyo today. Under his alias, Tokyo Counterpoint, he has mixed disparate styles into one intoxicating musical brew. Originally producing and remixing tracks for some of Japan’s biggest J-Pop acts, he has stretched out into uncharted territory with Tokyo Counterpoint’s brilliant “Oval”. Working under the Tokyo Counterpoint alias since 2004, he blends breezy bossa nova bounce with ethereal jazz-tinged electronica, defying genres and transcending labels.

Tokyo Counterpoint’s “Opal” album topped the Lounge Music charts of HMV and Tower records in Japan upon its release. From the opening notes of “To the Sky”, Junichi Hoshino takes the listener on a highflying aural journey to the stars and back. With majestic piano, bright summer beats and understatedly funky bass, “To the Sky” announces Hoshino’s stately vision of silky smooth grooves. One of the undeniable highlights of the song is the vocals of Japanese chanteuse WAWA. Her vocal range is as sprawling as Junichi Hoshino’s musical pallet, her voice capable of high-pitched cascades and lower register phrasing. WAWA honed her skills in both Japan and France and her time overseas is evident in the worldliness of her singing and the poetry of her lyrics. While firmly embedded in pop she spreads here wings and encompasses jazzy trills and husky cooing.
Other highlights of the disc are the rhythmically intoxicating “Twist of Fate”, the driving “Sine and Pulse” and the delicately grooving “Grandism”.

Hailing from rural Akita in northern Japan, Hoshino brought his unique musical sense to the bright lights of Tokyo where he began working with established Japanese pop acts. One of his most celebrated cuts was a remix of a track celebrating the 30th anniversary of iconic Japanese anime robot Gundam. Other mixers on the project were Yukihiro Fukutomi, Cold Feet and Jazztronic. But it is with Tokyo Counterpoint that Junichi Hoshino really shines. Espousing a production philosophy of “Make the art more pop and make the pop music more art”, “Oval” has achieved these goals on many levels. “Twist of Fate” is a perfect example of this synthesis. What might at first sound like pure pop, is imbued with multifaceted polyrhythms driving it along.
To achieve this amalgamation, Junichi Hoshino had the vocalist listen to a 6/8 click track, while the percussionist listened to a 4/4 click track.The percussion on “Oval”, handled by the talented Naoko Sato, keeps the music vibrant without ever overshadowing Hoshino’s more delicate touches. Recorded in a very brief and fruitful spurt of creativity, “Oval” retains a tangible improvisational underbelly, even with the spot-on production and uber-contemporary flourishes.

Junichi Hoshino’s artistic inspirations are the “realities of everyday life”. He walks the same city streets every day. The streets stay the same. But then it rains. And after the rain, the street smells lightly differently. “That’s when I feel inspired”, he muses. “I’m trying to steal that moment. I want that one second of beauty to resonate in my songs”.
These moments of beauty resonate abundantly on the Japanese release “Oval” and on the new international release “Oval +(first time also digitally in Japan), they are even more plentiful. The new version of the album, totally new produced and remixed in 2009, also features three stellar additional tracks. One of these new songs, the deliciously erotic “Swimming in Love” showcasing the new vocalist Kanata Okajima, is a neo-disco jam that has Junichi Hoshino venturing out into uncharted waters again.


Oval (Sucre Homme) CD, mp3 (Japan only)

Oval + (Mole Listening Pearls) mp3
Oval + (R2 Lounge) mp3 (Japan only)
To The Sky (Mole Listening Pearls) mp3


Swimming In Love, directed by Masaki Yokobe a.k.a YKBX