• Denholm Hewlett

[Music] Casiopea (1976-1988)

Casiopea, (derived from the constellation Cassiopeia), is Japan's most legendary interplanetary jazz-funk fusion/cosmic new-wave supergroup.

The band was founded by a gang of exceptional virtuoso musicians; lead by frontman Guitarist and head composer Issei Noro, Electric Bassist Tetsuo Sakurai, drummer Takashi Sasaki and keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya. The group's first self-titled album debuted in 1979, before the group's best known drummer Akira Jimbo joined the band line-up a year later. Since then, Casiopea's musical orbit and endurance led them to release album after album of highly inventive Jazz-funk-rock fusion and tour all over the world.

From Left to Right - Tetsuo, Akira, Issei, Minoru

Casiopea's smooth, clean cut, intergalactic Yamaha fusion aesthetic is very unique and reminiscent of retro video game soundtracks, blending the funky and complexed instrumentation of contemporary jazz with the romanticism of high budget elevator lounge music, cosmic funkadelic jazz from beyond the stars. Start with Midnight Rendezvous - One of the quintessential debut tracks from Casiopea written by Guitarist Issei Noro when he was 18 years old.

Casiopea, led by guitarist and head composer Issei Noro, have release over thirty albums since their inception and are still active today. The group have maintained an exceptionally high standard that very few bands can match. These guys are among the most talented and respected musicians in the business. The golden era of Casiopea was between 1979 to 1988, until Tetsuo and Akira left to form their own bass and drum duo "Jimsaku". The most acclaimed compositions from Casiopea's catalog include Domino Line, Galactic Funk, Midnight Rendezvous, Eyes of The Mind, Space Road, Asayake, Dazzling, Looking Up, Take Me, Mid-Manhatten & Time Limit.

My introduction to Casiopea was through watching their live performances from the 1980's. As if the group's musical virtuosity wasn't clear enough, I could tell they were all really enjoying themselves during their concerts, their on-stage chemistry and skill was so infectious and uplifting to experience, to witness such veteran grade musicians playing together with such enthusiasm, undeniable skill and no ego, radiating pure musical pleasure for them and the audience, even sneaking in a little dance choreography on the sly! These guys are one of the greatest bands in Japanese history without any doubt.

Check out this video of the boys playing one of their most beloved songs in Japan, EYES OF THE MIND at Hot Sound Island festival in 1983. This is hands down one of their best shows, the crowd are loving every second.

This live recording of DOMINO LINE is the best rendition of the song with the original band, each member performs their own instrumental solo section before the main guitar riff returns with a serious vengeance. This version was part of the MINT JAMS album. Click to 2:30 for Sakurai's insane bass solo.

The definitive Casiopea live experience has to be their impressive concert from 1985. The setlist for this gig features all their hit songs from that era. Watch the full Casiopea LIVE concert below for an unforgettable show.

~ Here's a selection of Casiopea music for you to check out at your leisure, we hope you enjoy their satisfying Yamaha virtuoso fusion sound! ~

~ Psychic Garden

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