Shintaro Sakamoto, How to Live with a Phantom, Other Music Recording Co.

Yes, he looks sleepy and/or grumpy in every picture
  • Other Music Recording Co.
  • Yes, he looks sleepy and/or grumpy in every picture

Sophisticated and cheesy in equal measure, Shintaro Sakamoto's How to Live with a Phantom evokes the lighter end of the '70s dance-pop spectrum. I just watched a documentary about disco-era designer Halston, and that's what comes to mind (just substitute music for fashion): silky, glittering, diaphanous.

Sakamoto's debut for the Other Music Recording Co., the NYC retailer's first full-length, melds the blue-eyed soul of David Bowie's Young Americans with the Studio 54-funk of Chic and the "Feels So Good" jazz of Chuck Mangione. Floating around the edges of every cut: glints of the Brazilian classic Getz/Gilberto.

Since he sings in Japanese, however, Top 40 radio will ignore his album, even though it wouldn't sound out of place on an adult contemporary station, but what saturated the airwaves four decades ago now seems almost avant garde.

"A Stick and Slacks," for instance, with its percolating beat and sexy backing vocals, recalls post-Eno Roxy Music, and Sakamoto even suffuses the thing with the sound of bubbling water, as if he and his "do-be-do" singers recorded it in a luxury-hotel bathtub—and maybe they did. Imagine Bryan Ferry and the "Addicted to Love" ladies enjoying a holiday in Tokyo, and you've got the gist.

How to Live with a Phantom is so effervescent it threatens to melt on contact, and I found 10 tracks a little overwhelming, but I have a feeling I'll return to it often this summer. As the Ad Hoc review put it, "Between the 'doo doo doo wah' backup vocals and guitar strumming worthy of the 'Dan, you'll probably see your parents get handsy if you throw this on at a barbecue. It's that smooth."

In 2011, WFMU's Alex Goldstein interviewed Sakamoto about his former outfit, Yura Yura Teikoku. In it, he explains, "Around 2005, I got real into 70's NY disco, but I had no intentions of doing exactly that kind of music with the band." Other Music Recording Co. releases How to Live with a Phantom on July 17, 2012.