'Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990'
light in the attic
Genre defining compilation expertly collates lost ambient classics from the Far East, once confined to forgotten record collections in attics or obscure corners of YouTube.
Over the last few years the shop’s seen a steady stream of beautifully packaged, gorgeous sounding Japanese ambient reissues. You could sense a world of new microgenres to uncover, each enticing, kanji covered sleeve leading you closer to profound new discoveries.
Enter Spencer Doran (Visible Cloaks), who, as well as introducing us to one off gems through his Empire Of Signs label, fell further down the rabbit hole, handpicking these explorations into new age, that despite having a few familiar names (YMO and Hosono the best known) are being heard for the first time in the west.
From first listen, it’s clear that artists such as Eno, Satie and Riley played their part in laying the concepts down for these artists, but the music doesn’t go down the same paths as their Western counterparts. The history contained in the booklet delves into 80s Japan and how its economic boom created a platform for artists to commercially match music and environment, taking the concept of Eno’s ‘Music For Airports’ seriously with companies commissioning musicians to dive into the modern age head first. This is an exploration into the variety of “soundscapes” the artists created: music that demands attention, music that forms part of the space around you, even music to showcase an AC unit!
We could talk all day about minimalism, sound artists and the breathing of new life into these environmental studies – but most important is what this summons emotionally. It’s what Fumio Miyashita’s ‘See the Light’ invokes as you close your eyes and feel the warmth, how Satoshi Ashikawa’s ‘Still Space’ fills the in-between of a busy life’s sound, or the way Yasuaki Shimizu sparks mystery from a single minute track.
This is music for solitude - late nighters, early morning risers, rainy days. The best way to listen is to put on your ‘phones, grab a good book (the liner notes are a good start) and become one with your environment.
- Still Space - Satoshi Ashikawa
- Glass Chattering - Yoshio Ojima
- Nemureru Yoru (Karaoke Version) - Hideki Matsutake
- Islander - Joe Hisaishi
- Ear Dreamin' - Yoshiaki Ochi
- Variation III - Masashi Kitamura + Phonogenix
- Park - Interior
- Nube - Yoichiro Yoshikawa
- Meet Me In The Sheep Meadow - Yoshio Suzuki
- Ishiura (abridged) - Toshi Tsuchitori
- Tomoshibi (abridged) - Shiho Yabuki
- Chaconne - Toshifumi Hinata
- Seiko 3 - Yasuaki Shimizu
- Apple Star - Inoyama Land
- Blink - Hiroshi Yoshimura
- See The Light (abridged) - Fumio Miyashita
- Praying For Mother / Earth Part 1 - Akira Ito
- Breathing New Life - Jun Fukamachi
- Snow - Takashi Toyoda
- Loom - Yellow Magic Orchestra
- A Dream Sails Out To Sea - Scene 3 - Takashi Kokubo
- Umi No Sunatsubu - Masahiro Sugaya
- Original BGM - Haruomi Hosono
- Nagareru - Ayuo Takahashi (LP Only)
- Dolphins - Ryuichi Sakamoto (LP Only)