Strings Of My Soul

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Strings Of My Soul
Album by Tak Matsumoto
Released June 20, 2012
Genre Instrumental, Rock, Jazz
Length 53:52 (Japan)
1:02:03 (Japan Bonus DVD)
45:53 (International)
Label Vermillion Records
House Of Strings (Japan)
335 Records (International)
Producer Tak Matsumoto

Strings Of My Soul is the ninth studio album by Tak Matsumoto, released on June 20, 2012. Following its domestic Japanese release, the album was issued physically and digitally in the United States and Europe by 335 Records on August 7, 2012. The release is between a traditional studio album and compilation, featuring both new and old tracks alike with previously released songs featuring re-recorded guitar alongside numerous other updates throughout. Included in the limited edition of the Japanese release was a DVD disc containing all of Tak's solo music videos to date along with previously unreleased live footage from B'z concerts as well as excerpts from Tak's showing with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in 2004.

Release Message:
"This is my latest solo album Strings Of My Soul! The CD contains all the gems I consider the best and have played the best. Please feel free to listen to the sound of the strings of my soul."
Tak in an alternate promo image with one of his signature Double Cutaways. For the recording of the album, Tak used his custom Double Cutaways from Gibson, a 1958 Les Paul Gold Top, a 1954 Fender Stratocaster and Martin and Yaili acoustic guitars.
Tak Matsumoto & Larry Carlton at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 14, 2011 where TAKE YOUR PICK took home Best Pop Instrumental Album. The collaboration led to Larry and his 335 Records label collaborating with Tak on this release.

The album would be the work that was Tak's first created with an international team at heart, with Tak producing the album alongside Paul Brown and Robert Williams, the president of 335 Records. Williams was also asked by Tak to give input on which songs should be included on the release. Brown, an engineer, mixer, producer and fellow Grammy Award winner alongside Tak also co-wrote the lyrics to the album's only vocal song, "Live Life", with Dax Reynosa as well as contributing to the arrangement. Several months following the album's release, the track was released as a digital single in the United States and Japan with both a new instrumental version and the original vocal rendition included.

Larry Carlton, with whom Tak had previously teamed for their East-meets-West jazz album TAKE YOUR PICK in 2010 that subsequently won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album, returned to join Tak on guitar for a cover of the popular 1961 song "SUKIYAKI". The song is the only Japanese-language song to have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and thus was considered an apt choice to cover for the album. While mostly a release of originals, two other covers are also included, being "MY FAVORITE THINGS" from The Sound of Music as Tak had covered from Theatre Of Strings in 2005 and "Romeo & Juliet" from the 1968 film of the same name that was originally covered on Hana.

Strings Of My Soul debuted at number four on the Weekly Oricon Albums chart and was the winner of Best Instrumental Album at the 27th Japan Gold Disc Awards. The album is available internationally on various outlets in both physical and digital forms, being sold on Amazon in both forms as well as being available on iTunes in several countries.

Production and information

The genesis for the album came about as Tak was looking to produce an album that culled his most representative solo material to date into a single work. In an interview with Gibson's online website, Tak described the album as different from his B'z output in that the album was "basically instrumental, more bluesy and mellower". Tak wished to establish a "melodic story of guitar instrumentals" with the work and decided to re-record the guitar work for consistency throughout the album. In the press release for 335 Records, the company that distributed the album internationally, he said of the release:

To begin with, the idea of making this album was to make an album with all of my favorite songs I've encountered during my solo career. Not just a best-of album, but I wanted to try playing them again with my current style. More like "A new album of myself".

The title of the album is drawn from an instrumental composition of Tak's from the B'z double album The 7th Blues in 1994. While the song itself is not included on the album, two different performances are included on the bonus DVD. Tak mentioned at the time of release that while he felt the title lended itself very well to the project, the song itself was not one he saw as mixing well with the other tracks.

While fundamentally the same, differences exist between the Japanese and international editions of the album. The tracks "#1090 Sen Mu Ichiya", collected here but originally from 2002's Hana, and "99", originally from 1992's Wanna Go Home, were not included for the international edition, leaving "The Moment" and "Romeo & Juliet" to open and close the album, respectively. Additionally, the album's cover of "SUKIYAKI" featuring Larry Carlton was given a different mix in the international edition compared to the original, while "THE WINGS" would be shortened with slightly different guitar work outside of Japan. Work from the album was later played consistently on various genre radio stations in the United States at the time of release.

The album was met with extremely positive reception in foreign markets that had previously been unfamiliar with Tak's music. Wave.fm awarded the album a glowing review, stating, "The man can play any style, any time and play it astonishly well" and adding, "Breathtaking. That’s all I can say. Absolutely exquisitely breathtaking. Drama, poignancy, rockin’ riffs and oriental nuance, Tak finds it all and steals my breath in the process." Allmusic.com likewise reviewed the album positively, writing, "There are moments when the crackling rock energy simmers down to a vibe that would fit comfortably in the smooth jazz format, but even on those, Matsumoto's precision and intimacy (with the expectation of powerful explosions in the distance) are awe-inspiring."

Track listing

All music composed by and guitar performed by Tak Matsumoto unless otherwise noted.

  1. #1090 Sen Mu Ichiya#1090 Thousand Dreams, #1090 千夢一夜
    Based on the version found on the 2002 studio album Hana. The song is a reinterpretation of Tak's second, most successful, and most recognizable solo single, "#1090 ~Thousand Dreams~". The version found here is roughly the same as that found on the aforementioned album but has been remixed to raise the volume of the guitar throughout and features a new guitar solo. The Hana version of the song has also long served as the ending theme to the television music program Music Station, on which the original version has opened the show for decades. The song was not included on the international version of the album.
  2. The Moment
    Originally found under the title of "ONE FOR THE ROAD" as a B-side to Tak's 1999 single "THE CHANGING". Though released there for the first time, it was first heard as the ending music on the B'z home video entitled LIVE RIPPER. Changes from the original track include the guitar being re-recorded and the keyboard solo being altered at Paul Brown's discretion. The original title was given by Koshi, who made the remark that it was "one for the road" as they viewed the tour images in the credits. However, in retrospect as he was preparing this album, Tak felt it did not entirely sum up his image of the song, leading to the new title of "The Moment".
  3. Live Life
    An entirely new song produced for the album, it is also the only vocal song to be included. As for producing a song with lyrics, Tak said at release that, "I decided from the very beginning to have one song with vocals." Tak did not perform the vocals himself due to the assumption it would be an English song in the end. Sam Drysdale made his vocal debut on the track, whose lyrics were written by Paul Brown and Dax Reynosa. The vocals, lyrics, and selection of a vocalist for the song were done after the music, guitar, and orchestra had been recorded.
  4. TRINITY
    Originally an album song from Tak's fourth studio album, DRAGON FROM THE WEST. At the time of release, it was used as the ending theme to Fuji TV's coverage of the 1999 F1 Grand Prix. The version found here features a re-recorded intro, as Tak felt the take on the album wasn't impeccable.
  5. BLUE
    Originally found in its orchestral form as heard here on House Of Strings, but originated as a guitar instrumental under the title of "Midousuji BLUE" on Hana. The version of the song found here has the levels on the strings lowered, while a different take was used for the guitar solo.
  6. HanaFlower, 華
    The title song from Tak's 2002 studio album Hana. The D melody was re-played and re-recorded for this release. A live performance with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra is included on the limited edition's bonus DVD.
  7. Koi UtaLove Song, 恋歌
    The opening song from Tak's 2002 studio album Hana. The guitar solo from the second half of the song was re-played in its entirety for the version found here. The music video for the song is included in the limited edition on its bonus DVD disc, as is a live rendition performed in tandem with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
  8. sasanqua~Fuyu no Hisasanqua~Winter Sun, sasanqua~冬の陽
    From the 1996 B'z mini-album FRIENDS II. The harmony from the final solo was altered and is the only change, as Tak said he didn't feel it necessary to rework the track very much.
  9. THE WINGS
    Released here for the first time but created as an image song for the 2007 World War II period film For Those We Love. The composition is derived and utlizes the melody from the B'z single "Eien no Tsubasa", which served as the theme to the aforementioned film. The core guitar part was re-recorded from the original version but otherwise is similar to the original composition. It bears noting that this is the third song that Tak was inspired to make from the original image of "Eien no Tsubasa", with the album track "hotalu" from TAKE YOUR PICK coming from the same original vision. The international version of the song was shortened by over a minute and features added guitar phrases by producer Paul Brown. This resulted in two different versions of the song, with the Japanese version featuring Tak's solo and the full runtime. Tak later recounted that the song was the point of the most discussion during production, as it was the one song that the Western producers didn't feel worked within the album.
  10. SUKIYAKI featuring LARRY CARLTON
    Cover of the international 1961 hit by Kyu Sakamoto, which became the first and only Japanese-language song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. While it is best known internationally by the title "SUKIYAKI", its original Japanese title is "Ue wo Muite Aruko". Tak mentioned at release that it was a song he'd wished to cover for some time. For the album, he enlisted Larry Carlton to feature on the track after working with him two years prior on their Grammy Award-winning collaborative album TAKE YOUR PICK. The domestic Japanese version of the song was mixed by Hiroyuki Kobayashi, while Paul Brown was responsible for the American version's mixing.
  11. MY FAVORITE THINGS
    Cover of well-known insert song from film The Sound of Music and originally included on Tak's collaborative guitar cover album Theatre Of Strings. The song was one of several Tak selected from the history of cinema to give a guitar makeover for the album. The version found here features a re-played guitar solo.
  12. Romeo & Juliet
    Cover of theme song to 1968 film Romeo and Juliet and originally included on Tak's solo album Hana. After listening to his 2002 rendition again while selecting songs for the album, Tak said he felt his original take was "too loud" and it was "hard to listen to with all the noise". As a result, almost all of the guitar for the song was re-recorded to his modern standard. A performance of the song from B'z LIVE-GYM Pleasure'97 "FIREBALL" is included on the bonus DVD.
  13. 99
    Based on the version of the song from Tak's second solo album, 1992's Wanna Go Home. The song itself was based upon a composition from his 1988 debut album Thousand Wave but was updated significantly for the later release. The version found here has been further altered from the 1992 recording, with the runtime reduced by over a minute and much of the guitar being re-played. Not included in the international edition.


Limited Edition (CD+DVD)

Music Videos B'z LIVE-GYM Excerpts Orchestra Collaboration 2004
  1. THE CHANGING
    Song released as single with Tak on vocals in 1999.
  2. SACRED FIELD
    Song from DRAGON FROM THE WEST in 2002.
  3. Koi Uta
    Song from Hana in 2002.
  4. OH JAPAN ~OUR TIME IS NOW~
    Song released as TMG single in 2004.
  5. Itsuka no Merry Christmas
    Song from House Of Strings in 2004.

Special excerpts from two B'z LIVE-GYM concerts during which Tak performed his customary solo section. Neither show has ever been released in full, making the inclusion here the home video debuts for both of the included performances.

  1. Strings of My Soul
    Tak's solo from B'z LIVE-GYM '93 "RUN"
  2. Romeo & Juliet
    Tak's solo from B'z LIVE-GYM Pleasure'97 "FIREBALL"

Footage previously not released on home video from the July 2004 performances of Tak Matsumoto & Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra Special Collaboration 2004: "Hana". The three-night showing featured Tak performing several of his solo collaborations along with B'z songs.

  1. SACRED FIELD~RED SUN~GO FURTHER
  2. BLUE
  3. Koi Uta
  4. #1090
  5. Hana
  6. Strings of My Soul

International Edition

The international edition released in the United States, Canada, and Europe by 335 Records contained eleven tracks, with "#1090 Sen Mu Ichiya" and "99" removed from the original track listing. This was done as the producers feared the two songs would not appeal to Western audiences. "The Wings" has been shortened and edited, while "Sukiyaki" features a different sound mix than the Japanese release. Apart from these differences, the releases are the same.

  1. The Moment
  2. Live Life
  3. Trinity
  4. Blue
  5. Hana
  6. Koi-Uta
  7. Sasanqua~Winter Sun
  8. The Wings
  9. Sukiyaki (feat. Larry Carlton)
  10. My Favorite Things
  11. Romeo & Juliet

Personnel

Credits apply to original Japanese track order

  • Tak Matsumoto: Guitar, Music Composition (Tracks 1-9, 13), Arrangement

Support Members

Production

External links

iTunes (Digital Edition)

Amazon.com (Physical Edition)

Amazon.com (Digital Edition)