I SATELLITE Electro Music

retro futurist minimal electronic new wave analog synth electro pop music


Life In Tokyo

I SATELLITE's cover of Life In Tokyo is finished. There are two different versions of the track, a radio edit for Utopia, a Moroder tribute compilation coming out on Cohaagen Records this Spring, and an extended version with a longer intro. The intro right before the song kicks in is supposed to mimic the sound of a bullet train going by.

Right-click and click "Save Target As..." to download the MP3's to your desktop:

Life In Tokyo (radio edit) - 7.2 MB
Life In Tokyo (extended) - 8.8 MB

The following instruments were used to make the track:

MC-4b MicroComposer (x2)
Roland System-700 (bass left)
Minimoog (bass right)
Roland SH-1 (buzzy bass lead)
Roland CMU-810 (low arpeggiated lead)
Roland Jupiter-8 (phased strings)
Prophet-5 (rev. 2) (arpeggiated bassline)
Roland Jupiter-4 (through a Space Echo for the spacey stuff)
Oberheim OBX (chime sound)
Roland PH-830 Stereo Phaser
Mu Tron Bi Phase
Roland SPH-323 Phase Shifter
Roland SBF-325 Flanger (x2)
Roland SRE-555 Chorus Echo
Lexicon PCM-80 (reverb and delay)
Lexicon PCM-41 (delay)
Korg SDD-1200 Stereo Delay

I really wanted this to be an authentic tribute to the work of Giorgio Moroder and Japan. But more than that, a tribute to the synths and sequencers of the pre-MIDI era. No MIDI or computers were used in the making of this track. All notes were keyed into the MicroComposer one-at-a-time or played live to tape.

Song History

Japan recorded Life In Tokyo with Moroder in early 1979. His trademark arpeggiated bassline can be heard throughout the track. It's likely they used the Oberheim mini-sequencer that Barbieri owned, instead of Moroder's MC-8, to trigger the OB-X or Prophet-5. The song Quiet Life, off the album of the same name, utilized the same arpeggiated bassline, and made the top 20 in the UK. A year after its release they split with Hansa for Virgin Records and produced one of my all time favorite albums, Gentlemen Take Polaroids.

Hansa rereleased a number of versions of Life in Tokyo to capitalize on Japan's success, but they didn't do well. A special remix of the song was released and did slightly better. In all there were 11 different versions of Life In Tokyo released over the years. One of them is simply the instrumental version of the track slowed down to half speed. I actually like the track Japan recorded before Life In Tokyo better, the Moroder-inspired European Son. It's one of my favorite Japan tracks, but Moroder had nothing to do with it, otherwise I would have covered that one instead.

Japan broke up in 1982 just as they had reached the peak of success with the Tin Drum album. It is rumored that Nick Rhodes approached David Sylvian to produce Duran Duran's first album, but he turned them down. Duran Duran ended up copying Japan's sound and look and went on to great success. :-( You can read more about Japan at the excellent Nightporter Web site. You can read more about Moroder at the Giorgio Moroder Web Site.


There's always something left inside here
I've really nothing much to lose
It seems so sentimental
Why should I care?

Somewhere the sound of distant living
Welcomed in high society
It seems so artificial
Why should I care?

Oh ho ho
Life can be cruel
Life in Tokyo
Oh ho ho
Life can be cruel
Life in Tokyo

Another vehicle heads for sunset
No other providence will do
They're only buildings and houses
Why should I care?

Oh ho ho
Life can be cruel
Life in Tokyo
Oh ho ho
Life can be cruel
Life in Tokyo

Feedback from Steve Nye

A few years ago I was contacted by Steve Nye, the producer of this track. Hes a very reclusive individual now living somewhere in Missouri, and no longer producing music. He told me he had one remaining piece of recording gear left, a Roland SBF-325 rackmount flanger/chorus unit that he used to use to add movement to a track. He really liked my version of the track and gave me some input on recording vocals, how he recorded David Sylvian's vocals on Tin Drum, etc. I lost touch with him a few months later but I really appreciated his input and insight. I know he left the music industry after getting burnt out, and never returned.

Feedback from Giorgio

In May 2013 I sent Giorgio Moroder a link to my Life in Tokyo cover via Facebook. To my surprise he contacted me back: "I am speechless, Rod! This is absolutely fantastic, your voice is just pefect for this Space Disco sound, a really great rework (and you also used MicroComposers like I did). You should upload the Extended Version on YouTube! All the best and thank you Giorgio" I sent him a link, and he replied: "That's great. I will post it immediatelly because it's so good!" Within a half hour he posted it to his Facebook page and my extended cover version of Life In Tokyo received over 1000 listens within the hour.

Enjoy the track! Send me an e-mail and let me know what you think!