The album cover is a minimalist grey background with Japanese text on the left edge of the art. On the top of the album art reads the words "Reality In Love, Toshifumi Hinata" in English and enlarged blue text.

Toshifumi Hinata: Reality In Love Album Review

By Claudia Ruiz
Music Journalist

Artist: Toshifumi Hinata
Album: Reality In Love
Release Date: November 28, 1986
Website: https://www.discogs.com/Toshifumi-Hinata-Reality-In-Love/release/3338964
Record Label: Alfa ‎– ALR-28091

With the current rise in popularity of genres such as lo-fi hip hop and synth pop, Toshifumi Hinata’s 1986 album, Reality In Love, seems like a relevant project to re-visit and explore.

Having an education from the Berkeley School of Music and having lived in places like England, the United States, and Japan throughout the 70s and 80s, Hinata’s overall sound in his works reflect his influences from those regions.

With Reality In Love being his first studio album at the age of 31, this fusion of electronic, classical, and ambient noise is ambitious. Hinata successfully combines these musical elements and transforms them all into one palatable project.

 I find this album the best to enjoy when reading, studying or just needing something to mellow out to. Even though the album is over three decades old, the relevance of its overall sound is not lost.

The album opens up with the first track “Reflections,”a calming melody played by the violin and accompanied by piano.

This works as an opener of what type of sound is to be expected regarding the classical-genre side of this project. The track that follows this is “Colored Air.” This track is very different sonically, yet it still sticks to the overall theme of an ambient, calm listening experience.

The title track, “Colored Air,” is the best way to describe the album’s concept. It creates the illusion of a colored cloud of encompassing sound. The pattern of the track order on this project is as follows; a traditionally classical piece, an ambient electronic piece, and back to a traditionally classical piece.

Even if you find yourself not being a fan of one of the sub-genres listed above, there is still something here for you to listen to.

 Reality In Love is stimulating enough to have you thinking about how moody the music is yet tranquil enough to allow you to read a book or write an article to.

It is a perfect example of background music that has some thought-provoking moments sprinkled throughout it. Hinata makes sure to include a lot of elements of classical music yet he doesn’t make it the main focus for most of his music.

Tracks like “Colored Air,” “Passage” and “In The Light” remind me more of ambient soundtracks from the late 80s and early 90s anime that would screen on Adult Swim on my parent’s old box TV set.

It is not hard to say that these tracks have been used in recent years as samples for Lo-Fi hip-hop remixes. An example of this is Toshifumi Hinata’s 1986 track “Reflections” being used as a sample on TREGUEGO’s 2019 track “90MH.”

The rise of the sampling of older pieces to help create newer ones is becoming more and more common. Overall, the main philosophy of city pop plays a great influence on the project as a whole.

“City pop” is a popular sub-genre of pop music that emerged in the 1980s and was predominantly popular in Japan, where Hinata was born and raised. Its overall sound tries to emulate the “cosmopolitan” image of individuals who were deemed successful in Japan under the economic boom that occurred within the end of World War II and the Cold War.

A good example of a piece of media that takes influence from city pop yet not in a musical setting is the 1988 film “Akira,” in which the environmental setting of Japan’s Downtown city atmosphere plays a key role in the film’s overall message. A good example of this atmosphere is at 1:32 in the trailer where there is a city scape shown of Japan.

My favorite tracks are “a Moment,” “Reflections,” and “Colored Air.” It’s wonderful to think about how music from the past can still be so relevant and active today.

With the total time of the project being less than 30 minutes, this is the ultimate album to go listen to whenever you’re in the mood to reflect on what “a reality in love” means to you.

Featured image via “The Reality in Love” album cover.

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