Yasuaki Shimizu - Music For Commercials (Made To Measure vol. 12)

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Originally issued by Crammed in 1987, this is one of the most sought-after releases in our legendary Made To Measure series. Known for his numerous albums, soundtracks, and collaborations with an impossibly broad array of artists (from Ryuichi Sakamoto and DJ Towa Tei to Van Dyke Parks, Björk, Manu Dibango and Elvin Jones), composer, saxophonist and producer Yasuaki Shimizu also released several electronic music productions during the '80s, which are currently generating a lot of interest (a.o. his recently reissued Mariah project). 

"Music For Commercials" is a brilliant and inventive collection of short pieces, initially conceived as soundtracks for Japanese TV commercials (and bearing sweet titles such as “Seiko”, “Sharp”, “Honda” etc). These twenty-three tracks (each clocking in at two minutes or less, except one longer piece composed for a computer-animation short) abound with hit-and-run sound collages, twittering computers, and energetic ricocheting between myriad styles of music. This album has achieved near-mythical status in the last few years, which have seen artists such as Oneohtrix Point Never sing its praise.

TV commercials in the late '70s and '80s didn't advertise the practical features of products, they were meant to build strategic corporate images. You might even say they took a musical approach in their visual expression, though perhaps that's an overstatement.
Being restricted to a time span of a minute or less made it ideal work for refining my intuitive powers. I made a conscious choice not to remix the tracks for this album. The final version of the original recordings appear here untouched, although I do remember working to link the individual tunes, and on the overall mood. — Yasuaki Shimizu

I met Yasuaki Shimizu when he was living in Paris, around the mid-80s. We were mutually interested in a Shimizu/Crammed collaboration, and we came up with the idea to gather the short pieces he had created for TV commercials, and release them in our Made To Measure composers' series which, at the time, already included 10 releases of mostly instrumental music. — 
Marc Hollander


Yasuaki Shimizu mini-biog 
Musical boundaries are no barrier to Yasuaki Shimizu, who performs and composes in all fields from improvisation to classical. Born in Shizuoka, just west of Tokyo, Shimizu first attracted notice in the 1970s with his virtuosic tenor saxophone playing. He released his first solo album in 1978, and from 1980 led the progressive rock band, Mariah, whose 1983 album Utakata No Hibi was recently reissued, to critical acclaim (Pitchfork gave it a 8.5 note and called it "enchanting… an elusive classic"). Another classic Shimizu album from that period is his solo effort Kakashi (1982), reissued ths year on US label Palto Flats. From around this time, Shimizu came into demand from a diverse range of artists for his composition, production and arrangement skills. For six years from the mid-1980s, he lived and recorded in Paris and London, recording and performing with a long list of collaborators. This period yielded three albums: Subliminal (1987) with French producer Martin Meissonnier, Dementos (1988) with British artists including ex-Flying Lizards David Cunningham, and Aduna (1989), featuring Senegalese vocalist Wasis Diop, while also writing original soundtracks to films such as Juliet Berto’s Havre and contributing music to Peter Greenaway's Pillow Book.

From the mid-90s, his passion for the music of J.S. Bach surfaced in two groundbreaking recordings of the entire Cello Suites – the first-ever tenor saxophone interpretations of these pieces. He followed up in 1997 with Bach Box, which won the Japan Record Award. Since 1983 Shimizu has recorded as Yasuaki Shimizu & The Saxophonettes, though for a long time the name stood only for his solo project. In 2006 he gathered four players to re-launch the Saxophonettes as a saxophone quintet. Following the release of Pentatonica (2007), an album of original and traditional pentatonic tunes, Shimizu returned his focus to Bach. At a 2010 concert, the band performed the world’s first arrangement of the Goldberg Variations, for five saxophones and four contrabasses, releasing an album version in 2015. Shimizu is also a prolific composer for film and TV. His soundtracks include the Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer (2013), which also won Outstanding Achievement for Original Music Score at the Cinema Eye Honors. Shimizu’s approach to music goes beyond composition and performance. He views physical space as an extension of his instrument, and often makes use of unique acoustic environments in which to record and play.


Made to Measure
Crammed's legendary MADE TO MEASURE Series of New Music was described at the time as the aural equivalent of a collection of art books. Charting a map of some of the most interesting instrumental music of the era, thirty-five albums came out between 1983 and 1995, including works by artists such as Hector Zazou, John Lurie (his soundtracks for the Jim Jarmusch films), Fred Frith, Arto Lindsay, Zelwer, Steven Brown, Peter Principle, Harold Budd, Brion Gysin, David Cunningham, Benjamin Lew, Ramuntcho Matta, Karl Biscuit, Daniel Schell, Aksak Maboul, Minimal Compact and more. The loose idea behind the title of the series was: this is music which has been or could have been "made to measure" as a soundtrack for other media (film, theatre, dance, video).

Many  renowned artists have repeatedly  worked  with  the musicians who contributed to the MTM Collection: filmmakers Jim Jarmusch,  Wim Wenders and Bernardo Bertolucci, choreographers Maurice Béjart, Karine Saporta, Karole Armitage, Régine Chopinot, Philippe Découflé and Compagnie Castafiore, fashion designers Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), etc.  

We discreetly started reactivating the Made To Measure series in 2013, and have released 5 new MTM albums since, by Brown Reininger Bodson, Jozef Van Wissem, Bérangère Maximin, Tuxedomoon & Cult WIth No Name (the Blue Velvet Revisited soundtrack), and the kaleidoscopic 50-track voyage by Le Ton Mité.


1. Tachikawa
2. Seiko 1
3. Seiko 2
4. Sen-Nen 1
5. Ricoh 1
6. Seiko 3
7. Boutique Joy
8. Seiko 4
9. Ricoh 2
10. Laox
11. Shiseido
12. Seiko 5
13. Sharp
14. Sen-Nen 2
15. Honda
16. Suntory
17. Knorr
18. Bridgestone 1
19. Bridgestone 2
20. Bridgestone 3
21. Bridgestone 4
22. Bridgestone 5
23. Ka-Cho-Fu-Getsu
24. Seibu