Ryuichi Sakamoto + David Byrne – “Psychedelic Afternoon”

Here’s a slice of the enjoyably bizarre yet heartwarming sentimental, complements of longtime collaborators Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Byrne — who have been making beautiful tunes together since the ’80s, most reputably collaborating on the Academy Award-winning soundtrack for The Last Emperor in 1987. “Psychedelic Afternoon” isn’t as sweeping or grandiose as the tracks there, but it’s a stirring psych-pop gem with plenty of color — both in the music and the accompanied video, designed by UrumaDelvi. It speaks of a fun-loving musical grandpa who lifts the spirits of his grandson, much like the grandpa character in the superb The Taste of Tea.

The video for “Psychedelic Afternoon” was released in an effort to raise money and awareness for children who survived Japan’s 2011 tsunami disaster. It follows a young boy who has recurring nightmares of the tsunami, until one night when his grandpa enters his room with a smile and guitar. There he takes him to a colorful world with carefree ambitions and smiling characters. “Psychedelic afternoon, let’s all sing a hippie tune,” Byrne signs in his typical Talking Heads demeanor. “I will sing my song for you, my grandpa taught to me.” The comfort of family is certainly emphasized, as is the occasional need to escape into a fantasy world — especially for young people. This track is for a wonderful cause, and it’s great fun as well.

“Sakamoto and I wrote this song a while ago,” Byrne said. “I was hesitant to sing it then, as it’s from the point of view of a child. But now, thanks to the magic of animation, a child can finally sing the song (though it’s my voice). I’m so happy to finally offer something in response to this horrible tragedy, and to have the song find a perfect home.”

Sakamoto continued: “The events that took place on 3.11 devastated the T?hoku region of Japan, and still affect the lives of its residents now two years later. I am proud to participate in the Zapuni project and to show T?hoku worldwide support through music and art.”

Another touching video for the cause, “Blossom”, can be viewed below. It features Sigur Rós “Happipola” and animation by Yutaka Yamamoto:

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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