DRAGON FROM THE WEST
|西辺来龍 DRAGON FROM THE WEST|
|Album by Tak Matsumoto|
|Released||February 27, 2002|
西辺来龍 DRAGON FROM THE WEST is the fourth studio album by Tak Matsumoto, released on February 27, 2002. The album was released on the same day as Hana and favored hard rock-oriented compositions as opposed to its companion album's more traditionally-flavored roots. The releases came ten years after the last original instrumental album Wanna Go Home in 1992 but was more immediately preceded by vocal album KNOCKIN' "T" AROUND in 1999. The titular "Dragon from the West" refers to Tak and the work itself, with Tak hailing from Osaka where the album was also recorded.
The album is one of the few among Tak's solo work from 2002 onward to not have been released internationally. However, the closing track from the album, "Trinity", was included on the international edition of Hana as a bonus track. Later, tracks from the album would be included elsewhere in his catalogue, including on 2005's orchestral album House Of Strings and 2012's remasters and re-recordings album Strings Of My Soul.
The album was well-received at launch and sold enough copies to premiere at the number five spot on the Weekly Oricon Albums chart, premiering one spot beneath its sister album, Hana, that would go on to be considered by critics, fans, and Tak himself as the magnum opus of his solo career.
Production and information
Production on the album began in August of 2001 as B'z LIVE-GYM 2001 "ELEVEN" came to a close. On the tour, Tak premiered what would become the lead song from the album, "SACRED FIELD", in his solo section. Proper recording began in earnest as of September according to a February 2002 interview with Music Freak magazine. Tak likewise stated that he had amassed eighteen songs total from the sessions, including those he had prepared in the interim since his last solo work, and separated them by their theme and tone.
The album is a unique product in Tak's solo catalogue and exists in stark contrast to its companion album released the same day. The thematic dichotomy between the two simultaneously released albums is clear in that DRAGON FROM THE WEST was released as "Tak Matsumoto" in English while Hana was credited to "Takahiro Matsumoto" (松本孝弘) in Japanese kanji. The driving force behind the album came from Tak wanting to create a self-satisfying work that had a sound that had live sensibilities about it. Additionally, the cover features his signature Tak Matsumoto Les Paul guitar in its Canary Yellow variant.
The support members involved in the production of the release included several musicians with which Tak had worked with previously, both with B'z and in earlier solo works. Akihito Tokunaga provided bass on most of the tracks and added to the arrangement. Hideo Yamaki joined on drums for "Trinity" after having worked with Tak on various projects beginning in 1995, while bassist Vagabond Suzuki played on the same track after playing on most of KNOCKIN' "T" AROUND. Longtime collaborator Akira Onozuka also offered acoustic piano on both "Trinity" and "Riverside Blues".
All music composed by and all guitar performed by Tak Matsumoto.
- SACRED FIELD
- The lead song from the album and also the first recorded for what it would eventually become. Prior to inclusion here, the song was performed on most dates of B'z LIVE-GYM 2001 "ELEVEN" in a medley with Tak's most well-recognized solo composition #1090 ~Thousand Dreams~ before transitioning into B'z song "JAP THE RIPPER". The song also served as the opening to the Fuji TV program Kando Factory Sport, on which Tak also performed the song on its March 2, 2002 broadcast. Additionally, a 2004 theme song collection for the program also included "SACRED FIELD" as its final track. The collection also included the B'z song "ROCK man" and "RED SUN" as an exclusive track. A special orchestra medley including the song by the title of "SACRED FIELD~RED SUN~GO FURTHER" was included on House Of Strings and was the second song performed during Tak's 2004 collaboration with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
- FIGHTING BULL
- A hard-rock guitar instrumental composition, the song was featured on the program Waratte Iitomo! (It's Okay to Laugh!) around the time of release.
- DRAGON FROM THE WEST
- The title song from the album that has not been collected elsewhere. The guitar work features extensive use of wah pedals.
- A song played in a style reminiscent of the famed American instrumentalrock band The Ventures. The song uniquely features separate instrumentation on the left and right audio channels.
- Riverside Blues
- As with "Trinity", the song was composed with the idea of an instrumental song that would work just as well live.
- Used at the time of release as the ending theme to Fuji TV's coverage of the 1999 F1 Grand Prix. The song was written with the live stage in mind and was composed at the same time as the KNOCKIN' "T" AROUND sessions but was only first properly recorded for this album. The song would later feature re-recorded guitar and sport the new capitalized notation "TRINITY" when it was later found on Tak's 2012 retrospective work Strings Of My Soul.
- Tak Matsumoto: Guitar, Music Composition, Arrangement
- Atsuo Okamoto: Drums (Track 5)
- Hideo Yamaki: Drums (Track 6)
- Akihito Tokunaga: Bass (Tracks 2-4), Arrangement (Tracks 2-5)
- Naoki Watanabe: Bass (Track 5)
- Vagabond Suzuki: Bass (Track 6)
- Akira Onozuka from DIMENSION: Acoustic Piano (Tracks 5 & 6)
- Shinozaki Strings: Strings (Track 6)
- Daisuke Ikeda: Arrangement (Tracks 1 & 6)
- t2o: Arrangement (Track 3)