The Producer's Workshop Ensemble in Japan

by The Producer's Workshop Ensemble

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TheSlowMusicMovement
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TheSlowMusicMovement Landing in Japan Matthew Rivera trawled Tokyo's thrift stores for discarded instruments & studio gear, enlisted some top Japanese jazzers to augment his multi-instrumental prowess in rent by the hour studios, & has cobbled together a seductively "lo-fi//hi-class" LP where all the right 20th century jazz influences melt into into the warm embrace of hip hop beat culture.
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1.
Untro 00:25
2.
3.
4.
Unterlude 00:45
5.
Got 2 Live 05:16
6.
7.
Diggerlude 00:43
8.
9.
10.
Outerludes 02:23
11.

about

Recorded guerrilla-style in and around Tokyo during the first wave of the pandemic with gear purchased largely from thrift shops, The Producer’s Workshop Ensemble in Japan is the quintessential DIY joint – grimy, haphazard, and flawed with a soft sincerity. While the rich textures and awkward chords may bring to mind obvious influences like Slum village, Roy Ayers, The Mizell Brothers, Q-Tip, and Phil Ranelin, the project presents an interesting tension between a glimmery golden era and a decidedly less codified, more experimental production aesthetic that stretches into a new direction.

It's an oddity, to be sure.

Bless The Mad’s Matthew Rivera arrived in Japan only days before the first wave of COVID in March of 2020. Too restless to stay put for very long, he had moved from Chicago to work a short-term contract at a University near Tokyo. But the the isolation, stress, and loneliness of pandemic life in a new country, compounded by the death of his father only weeks later, was brutal.

Rivera put his energy into what he thought of as a sort of musical self-study project in which he would reconstruct beloved soul and jazz tunes on piano, bass, and drums in an effort to improve his musicianship. After dozens of trips to junk shops for cheap instruments and recording gear (a favorite pastime), he filled hi-bias cassette tapes with lo-fi covers of tunes by Weldon Irvine, Stevie Wonder, and Curtis Mayfield, before the inspiration to begin writing his own compositions came.

To be close to his new job, Rivera found himself living in Chiba prefecture among a sea of white public housing danchis from the 1960s, one exactly like the next. Here, Rivera recorded keyboard sketches with 80s digital piano boxes in his tatami-floored apartment. He then lugged bags filled with his thrift shop hauls (4-track tape machines, compressors, faulty cables, mics) to several of Tokyo’s pay-by-the-hour music rehearsal studios where he would have access to real instruments like grand pianos and drum sets. He spent full days there adding and subtracting sounds slowly, layer by layer.

These ideas slowly expanded and musical contributions from friends and acquaintances trickled in. Soon, what had started as a series of simple private experiments for Rivera alone, developed over the course of the pandemic into what is now a full-fledged album (or at least partially-fledged) with a rare appearance from sometimes STC collaborator, Lito Brown on wah-wah flute and alto sax, as well as additional contributions from several talented Japanese musicians: Tetsuta Otachi on guitar; Yuki Nakada on koto; Takehide Hashimoto on tenor sax; Kyotaro Hori on flugelhorn; and Yuima Enya on vocals.

-Sandalio De Díaz
(June, 2022)

credits

released July 29, 2022

All tunes composed, produced, arranged, & mixed by Matthew Rivera
Japanese lyrics written by Yuima Enya
Recorded on location at STC Mobile Studios, Japan
Mastered by Steven Berson at Total Sonic Media
Original low-quality DIY cover "art" by Matthew Rivera

UNTRO
Matthew Rivera- drums, grand piano, electric piano, electric bass

ANYTHING 4 LOVE
Yuima Enya- lead & background vocals
Tetsuta Otachi- acoustic guitar
Matthew Rivera- flute, drums, percussion, grand piano, synthesizers, electric bass, hand claps
Kyotaro Hori- flugelhorn
Takehide Hashimoto- tenor saxophone

MEANT 2B TOGETHER
Lito Brown- wah wah flute
Tetsuta Otachi- acoustic guitar
Kyotaro Hori- flugelhorn
Takehide Hashimoto- tenor saxophone
Matthew Rivera- grand piano, drums, percussion, electric piano, electric bass, hand claps

UNTERLUDE
Yuima Enya- backwards vocals
Matthew Rivera- drums, grand piano, electric piano, electric bass

GOT 2 LIVE
Yuima Enya- lead & background vocals
Yuki Nakada- koto
Matthew Rivera- drums, percussion, grand piano, electric piano, synthesizer, electric bass, finger snaps, background vocals
Kyotaro Hori- flugelhorn
Takehide Hashimoto- tenor saxophone

ANATA to WATASHI
Yuima Enya- lead & background vocals
Matthew Rivera- drums, tambourine, string synthesizer, electric piano, synth bass, finger snaps

DIGGERLUDE
Matthew Rivera- drums, digital piano, synthesizer, electric bass

YASASHI (PART 1)
Yuima Enya- lead vocals
Tetsuta Otachi- electric guitar
Matthew Rivera- drums, drum synth, synthesizer, electric bass
Kyotaro Hori- flugelhorn
Takehide Hashimoto- tenor saxophone
Lito Brown- alto saxophone

YASASHI (PART 2)
Yuima Enya- lead and background vocals
Matthew Rivera- drums, percussion, electric piano, synthesizers, electric bass, background vocals

OUTERLUDES
Matthew Rivera- drums, percussion, grand piano, electric piano, electric bass
Tetsuta Otachi- acoustic guitar
Kyotaro Hori- flugelhorn
Takehide Hashimoto- tenor saxophone

NATSUKASHI HITO
Yuima Enya- lead vocals
Matthew Rivera- fender rhodes bass, drums, drum synthesizer, percussion, grand piano, synthesizer
Kyotaro Hori- flugelhorn
Takehide Hashimoto- tenor saxophone

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LO-FI // HI-CLASS
staythecourserecords@gmail.com

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