Last time we checked in on analog synth god Isao Tomita, he was floating over the heads of 80,000 people, suspended in a glass pyramid as he live-mixed keyboard tracks at an Austrian music festival. Oh no wait, he was re-arranging the works of Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, and Debussy for electronic interpretation on 1975's Firebird. That's right. But that other part happened, too (at the 1984 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz - a performance documented on the live album Mind of the Universe).
Indeed, Mr. Tomita is a supremely trippy, space-obsessed dude, responsible for some of the finest oscillator modulation this side of Wendy Carlos or Morton Subotnick. And admittedly, Kosmos is one of his more commercial-minded albums. But Tomita has never shied from commercial work, scoring many a Japanese television show (Zatoichi, anyone?) and even working (like Carlos) with Disney at one point. Let us also consider the year 1978. If memory serves, a certain sci-fi film was recently released, and the public had cosmic travels on the brain.
Speaking of which, Tomita's version of John Williams' Star Wars theme on here is a true keeper, not to mention an excellent example of his innate ability to transform someone else's work into something completely different while still maintaining the integrity and feeling of the original. His treatment of Williams' work, awash in buzzing, swooning syncopation, channels the spirit of R2D2 via a melody that sounds like it's being played on a kazoo. Goofy, yes, but distinctly Tomita, as are the seven other tracks on Kosmos. You want the theme from 2001? You got it. A little bit of Grieg? No sweat. Tomita is a fucking pro.
Below: Isao Tomita = Pimp Sauce
A 6-minute excerpt from the album's final track, "The Sea Named Solaris", paired with a super-epic psychedelic art montage. Trip out.