The Producer's Workshop Ensemble, The Producer's Workshop Ensemble in Japan  
The Producer's Workshop Ensemble
The Producer's Workshop Ensemble in Japan
Label: Stay The Course Records
Release Year: 2023
Style: Hip-Hop & R'n'B
  1. Untro 00:25
2. Anything 4 Love 05:06
3. Meant 2B Together 03:42
4. Unterlude 00:45
5. Got 2 Live 05:16
6. Anata to Watashi 03:41
7. Diggerlude 00:43
8. Yasashii (Part I) 04:30
9. Yasashii (Part II) 04:29
10. Outerludes 02:23
11. Natsukashi Hito 03:59
  Second run of STCLP-002 on black wax with high-quality wrap-around reproduction prints of two of the earliest amateur paintings created for this project. This version Includes the original liner notes by Sandalio De Díaz on the back. Hand-pasted covers. Hand-stamped labels.

Recorded guerrilla-style in Chiba and Tokyo, Japan during the first wave of the pandemic with gear purchased largely from thrift shops, The Producer’s Workshop Ensemble in Japan is the quintessential DIY joint – grimy, haphazard, and flawed with a soft sincerity.

Bless The Mad’s Matthew Rivera arrived in Japan only days before the first wave of of the pandemic in March of 2020. Too restless to stay put for very long, he had moved from Chicago to work a short-term contract at a University near Tokyo. To be close to his new job, Rivera found himself living in Chiba prefecture among a sea of white public housing danchis from the 1960s, one exactly like the next.

It wasn't long before the isolation, stress, and loneliness of pandemic life in a new country, compounded by the death of his father only weeks later, began eating away at his sanity. Rivera decided to put his energy into what he thought of as a sort of musical self-study project, reconstructing beloved tunes on piano, bass, and drums in an effort to improve his musicianship and distract himself as best he could.

After dozens of trips to junk shops for cheap instruments and recording gear (a favorite pastime), he filled cassettes with covers of tunes by Weldon Irvine, Stevie Wonder, and Curtis Mayfield. Before long he was lugging bags filled with his thrift shop hauls (4-track tape machines, compressors, faulty cables, mics) to several of Tokyo’s pay-by-the-hour music rehearsal studios where he would have access to real instruments like grand pianos and drum sets. He spent full days there working on what is now The Producer's Workshop Ensemble in Japan.

Musical contributions and collaborations soon trickled in, and what had started as a series of simple private experiments for Rivera alone, developed over the course of the pandemic into what is now a full-fledged album (or at least partially-fledged) with a rare appearance from sometimes STC collaborator, Lito Brown on wah-wah flute and alto sax, as well as additional contributions from several talented Japanese musicians: Tetsuta Otachi (guitar); Yuki Nakada (koto); Takehide Hashimoto (tenor sax); Kyotaro Hori (flugelhorn); and Yuima Enya (lyrics/vocals).

-Sandalio De Díaz
(June, 2022)
released July 29, 2022

All tunes composed, produced, arranged, & mixed by Matthew Rivera
Japanese lyrics written by Yuima Enya
Recorded on location at STC Mobile Studios, Japan
Mastered by Steven Berson at Total Sonic Media
Original DIY cover paintings by Matthew Rivera
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