Various Artists – Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990

kanWhat?! You’re in the mood for Japanese ’80s ambient music as well? That’s 優秀な!

Kankyō Ongaku, which is translated as “environmental music” in English, is music that’s … well, all about those good fucking vibes. Feel hungover? Wanna meditate? Want to feel like you’re in the 2019 all those ’80s movies promised you with flying cars, minimalist decor, and never aging past the age of 35, then this is your album.

Due to an incredibly constant, convoluted, and continuously complex history, a lot of western motherfuckers don’t know that much about Japan. So, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Huh? Are you kidding me? Who the fuck cares about Japanese ’80s ambient music?” That’s probably the reason. It’s either that or you just hate ambient music which, if that is the case, are you fucking kidding me?!

This bomb ass album includes some of Japan’s biggest players. You’ve got Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, and the Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). If all of this is one big fucking question mark to you, then allow me to make some comparisons. YMO is like Japan’s version of Krafterwerk. Without these motherfuckers? Japanese music would be entirely different. No … fuck that. Music, as we know, it would be entirely different. Both Ryuichi and Haruomi were main members in YMO. They each also have fruitful fucking solo careers. Without albums like Ryuichi’s “Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto” that came out back in ’78 (more commonly called “Thousand Knives”) rap music would be entirely different. Did you get that? Without Ryuichi there may be no Lil Wayne, Outkast, or Kanye fucking West (not to mention Marvin Gaye and The Talking Heads). Because Ryuichi was one of the first of those courageous enough to use the historical and beloved Roland-808. The instrument (or groovebox) that helped define majorly monumental works for all the artists previously mentioned. Ryuichi is one dope ass motherfucker.

On this album, you won’t be hearing fly beats or thick drops. This is ambient, motherfucker. Let shit be chill. These tracks weren’t just thrown together (by Spencer Doran of Visible Cloaks) cause they sounded pretty. This is like a pinhole camera revealing a glimpse of a mostly lost musical world (to westerners anyway). This is a sensitive, illustrious, and beautiful album. Not a single note is misplaced. Every single artist on this album is a wealth unto themselves. Each contain their own galaxy when it comes to ambient music. This is truly Japanese ambient P.I.M.P.



 

 

3 thoughts

  1. I loved Visible Cloaks’ ‘Reassemblage’ when it came out, and for much of that year. I also love Hiroshi Yoshimura – not sure if you’ve covered him before on this blog, but ‘Music For Nine Postcards’ was weirdly revelatory, in all its beautiful simplicity. Another for the list, but in terms of both VA comps, and ambient, I’ve got other stuff I’d rather listen to. Maybe I’ll get to this after Midori Takada.

    Liked by 1 person

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