Music / Susumu Hirasawa

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Susumu Hirasawa was born on April 2nd, 1954, in Tokyo, Japan, and since then has gone on to become one of the premier composers and performers of the dubious genre of Technopop. His musical style is indescribable, and his distinctive voice is instantly recognisable. He has composed for anime by Satoshi Kon, including Paranoia Agent and Paprika, among other things.

In 1973, Susumu started a Progressive Rock band called Mandrake. While obscure, the band was a pioneer of the genre in Japan, and his unique composition style can be heard even back then. When the band split up, he took 3 of his former bandmates and created a New Wave band, P-Model. Their first album, In A Model Room, was released in 1979, and it and its single "Art Mania" had a punkish, energetic sound that made the band quite popular. If you need a comparison, think Polysics. After their second album, Landsale, P-Model began to become more experimental, releasing Potpourri, consisting mostly of Sound Collage -type song construction, bright guitar riffs, and Susumu screaming his head off. This didn't last for long, however, and their sound evolved over the next few albums, keeping the bright riffs, using way more synth, and introducing Susumu's more well-known singing style. The album Karkador is generally the point where P-Model started sounding like themselves.

The band had been changing members about every album, and the only original member left at this point was Susumu. The album One Pattern was created in a cloud of bad inter-band relations, and has since become Susumu's least favorite album as a result. P-Model became dormant at this time, and Susumu released his first solo album, Water In Time and Space.

After two more albums on Hirasawa's own, P-Model came together once again and released a self-titled album, in which they changed genres to a more conventional techno sound, in contrast to Susumu's stranger solo material. During this period, both P-Model and solo albums were being made. In 1995, P-Model's Fune and Susumu's Sim City were released, widely considered to be their best albums, respectively. Fune involved being on a journey, and Sim City centered around a Science Fiction story set in Thailand.

In 1997, Susumu composed some music for the anime Berserk, including Forces, which is likely one of his best known songs outside of Japan, and P-Model's sound grew even harder to pinpoint as 2 EPs and an album Enola were completed. As you would expect, P-Model had fallen out of the mainstream a while ago. Susumu focused on his solo work more, and after 1999's album P-Model Or Die, P-Model offically disbanded.

Susumu continues to make fantastic albums and soundtracks, and in 2010 celebrated the 30th anniversary of P-Model and the 20th anniversary of his solo career with remix albums of his past songs in a more orchestral style.

Mandrake discography:

  • Unreleased Materials Volumes 1 and 2, 1997 (these songs were recorded in the 70's, but not released until then)

P-Model discography:

  • In A Model Room, 1979
  • Landsale, 1980
  • Potpourri, 1981
  • Perspective, 1982
  • Another Game, 1984
  • Scuba, 1984 (Sort of a multimedia type thing)
  • Karkador, 1985
  • One Pattern, 1986
  • P-Model, 1992
  • Big Body, 1993
  • Fune, 1995
  • Rocket Shoot, 1996 (EP)
  • Ashura Clock, 1997 (EP)
  • Layer-Green, 1997 (EP)
  • Denshi Higeki/~ENOLA, 1997
  • Music Industrial Wastes ~P-Model or Die, 1999

Solo discography:

  • Water In Time And Space, 1989
  • The Ghost in Science, 1990
  • Virtual Rabbit, 1991
  • Aurora, 1994
  • Sim City, 1995
  • Siren, 1996
  • Technique of Relief, 1998
  • Philosopher's Propeller, 2000
  • Solar Ray, 2001 (a remix album, the concept being turning solo releases into P-Model sounding songs, done with solar powered technology)
  • Blue Limbo, 2003
  • Switched-on Lotus, 2004 (a remix album with some original tracks)
  • Vistoron, 2004 (released under the name Kaku P-Model, but still a solo album, harder and faster songs than usual)
  • White Tiger Field, 2006 (Some of the songs on this album were used in the soundtrack for Paprika)
  • Tetragrammaton, 2008 (A collaboration with metal/noise artist Inh Vman)
  • Planet Roll Call, 2009
  • Totsu-Gen-Hen-I, 2010 (Arrangements of P-Model songs focusing heavily on stringed instruments)
  • Hen-Gen-Jizai, 2010 (Similar to Totsu-Gen-Hen-I, except with solo work)
  • BERSERK『Aria』, 2012
  • The Secret of the Flowers of Phenomenon, 2012
  • Gipnoza, 2013 (Released under the name Kaku P-Model)
  • The Man Climbing the Hologram, 2015

... Needs a Better Description?

Tropes:

  • Bizarre Instrument: Has made use of laser harps, zeusaphones, kinetic energy-powered samplers and ...this thing in his live shows.
  • Call-and-Response Song: Fulu-Re-He-He *clap-clap clap*
  • Call Back: You can hear part of the P-Model song "Monster A Go Go" at the end of "Parade".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: His bizarre twitter messages about a Susumu Hirasawa copycat breaking into his studio, which likely was just himself trolling his fans.
  • Cold Ham: See "Large Ham".
  • Creepy Circus Music: He did some of this on his early albums but eventually brought back the sound this past decade, most notably on "Parade".
  • Don't Look at Me!: The "I'm not Yui Hirasawa!" incident...
  • Dumb and Drummer: Quite literally; in 1997 P-Model replaced its drummer with TAINACO, "the virtual drummer".
  • Everything's Louder With Bagpipes: "Caravan". Trust me when I say this comes out of nowhere.
  • Evil Laugh: At the end of "Quit." If you're used to him being The Stoic, it can be rather jarring.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Because of this he's a vegetarian.
  • Genre-Busting: Big time with this guy. Music nerds all over the planet fail to sort him into a particular genre, the closest we can get is "Technopop".
  • Genre Roulette: The music of P-Model was notorious for this, and while his solo career achieved a higher blending of styles, songs like Solar Ray change genres quicker than you could list them.
  • Green Aesop: Solar Ray - an album about recycling, recorded entirely with solar energy, featuring (you guessed it) recycled material.
  • Gratuitous English: Sometimes as a chorus, sometimes as the title, such as Niwashi KING.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold
  • Hitler Cam: For some reason many of his live performances are filmed from that angle.
  • Humble Hero
  • I Am the Band: With Kaku P-Model, this is literally true.
  • In Harmony with Nature: His studio is designed to use only sustainable energy and resources.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Most of his friends are in their 20's.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Few things are known about his private life, but it's confirmed that he lives alone with his two cats.
    • In 2001, a pregnant stray cat was found in his studio. He took care of her, helping carry out four of her pregnancies. However, as he could not take care of all the kittens, Hirasawa created a temporary site to recruit possible adopters and keep up with the welfare of the various cats.
  • A Lady on Each Arm
  • Large Ham: He certainly likes playing with this. He was quite hammy during the first years of P-Model but hammed down a lot over the years so that he is The Stoic since the mid-80s. His music on the other hand is just as hammy as electronic music can get. He is able to combine The Stoic persona with a unique hammy delivery in his most bombastic songs like Forces. Yes, he's a Cold Ham.
  • Loudness War: Unfortunately his albums are mixed loudly and even clipping is common.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Genshiryoku," a darkly sarcastic Protest Song about Japan's nuclear energy policy set to an upbeat, triumphant-sounding Ear Worm.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Maybe Wagnerian New Age? Or Symphonic Techno?
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy
  • One-Man Band: During his live performances; to be fair he uses some playback tracks.
  • Older Than They Look: The man is in his 60's but you'd be forgiven for assuming he's in his 40's.
  • Protest Song: "Genshiryoku" against Japan's nuclear energy policy, "High Minded Castle" and "Love Song" against the war in Iraq.
  • Rearrange the Song: Done many times throughout his career; he's dedicated entire albums to this concept (usually updating his past works into his current style).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: P-Model with its aggressive rock style is the Red Oni to the Blue Oni of the more intellectual nature of his solo work.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Most notably on P-Model's self-titled 1992 album, which was in essence a more modern and insane take on In a Model Room's sound, sometimes literally (see "No Room").
  • The Stoic: Try to find a live video (made after his early days) where he shows emotion. We'll wait.
  • Title Only Chorus: “Homo Gestalt,” “Kaji wo Tore,” “Forces,” “Rocket Shoot,” “Sekai Turbine,” “Mother,” “Seiren,” “Russian Tobiscope”
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ginger tea and bagels.
  • Vocal Evolution: During the early P-Model years, his vocals were far more extravagant but he gradually developed the clear tenor singing style we know him for.

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