Join us for a listening session dedicated to Japanese ambient classics today 2-5pm at In Sheep’s Clothing NYC.
Let’s talk about the sonics of water and the way that producer Harry Hosono harnessed a natural-occurring acoustic effect to create otherworldly tones. Let’s also talk about Inoyamaland, the visual and environmental music duo of Makato Inoue and Yasushu Yamashita, who collaborated with Hosono in 1983 to make Danzindan-Pojidon, their first album.
Inoue and Yamashita recorded the work in a Tokyo apartment. Hosono then channeled those tapes through four speakers he’d placed in a fish tank and captured the sound waves as they emanated from the water. He dubbed his creation a “water delay system.”
What arrived was a 10-track record made for a realm that Inoue and Yamashita call “a special place where the kingdom of summer vacation never ended.” Those in the New York area can visit this kingdom on the symbolic last day of summer, Labor Day, when ISC NYC will feature it as part of our Monday focused listening sessions (2-5 p.m. EST). An Afternoon of Japanese Ambient will be devoted to eight classics of the genre from our New York collection. Next month LA, In Sheep’s Clothing will host a live-streamed Tokyo performance by Inoyamaland at the Japanese American Cultural Center.
“My father ran a kindergarten and there I used to play the organ, piano, and xylophone, for the children since I was a child myself, but for me these things were really only ‘toys’ that made sounds,” Inoue told the site Ban Ban Ton Ton in 2021, of his early education. “It was just fun. I started playing music properly at around the age of 15. The first time I composed it was when I was in charge of the music for a 1977 performance called ‘COLLECTING NET,’ with Yamashita-san.”
The two had met the previous year as members of the same theatre production. Yamashita oversaw the music and Inoue oversaw the art.
The kind of records that resonated with Inoue and Yamashita as they were starting are well represented in our collection, which stands to reason. “From around 1976, I became aware of the diverse possibilities of music, and new styles of jazz/fusion, released by German rock bands in West Germany, and the ECM Record label,” Inoue told Ban Ban Ton ton. “I also became interested in Asian folk music, the early medieval music of Europe, Nino Rota and Akira Ifukube. I was interested in the movie soundtracks, as well. I felt a new style of music in these things, which all led to ‘ambient,’ and in the process of searching for more music in the same vein, I came across Eno’s Ambient series of LPs.”
Yamashita’s early inspirations? “From around 1967, I began to be interested in the ideas of John Cage and La Monte Young. Then I saw a performance by Takehisa Kosugi in 1969. The record No Pussyfooting by Fripp & Eno, in 1973, was also important.”
Until a few years ago, original copies of Danzindan-Pojidon were impossible to find. That changed when Swedish label WRWTFWW reissued it in 2020. In doing so, a brilliant instrumental meditation activated generations of new eardrums. WRWTFWW’s release notes offer context:
The original recording sessions for the album took place in an apartment filled with Inoyamaland’s “favorite things and friends” and the wonders that came out of them were handed to master Harry Hosono who added his undeniable genius touch. And thus Danzindan-Pojidon was born, an absolute must-have, sitting in the pantheon of all-time 80s Japanese ambient greats alongside Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass, Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green, and Satoshi Ashikawa’s Still Way — and holding that mysterious power of “music that makes life a little easier and happier.”
It’s is a record that writer Joshua Minsoo Kim captured when describing it as “[m]ore whimsical than even Roedelius’ most child-like synth ventures. This is music for imagining happier worlds—it’s easiest to do that with a cozy sweater.”
In addition to Danzindan-Pojidon, ISC NYC will be featuring seven other Japanese ambient classics from our collection (a few of which WRWTFWW cited above) on Monday. Details below.
An Afternoon of Japanese Ambient
Inoyaland – Dansindan-Pojidon
Satoshi Ashikawa – Still Way (Wave Nation 2)
Midori Takada – Through the Looking Glass
Hiroshi Yoshimura – Green
Interior – Interior
WaNoWa – WaNoWa
Sth. Notional – Yawn Yawn Yawn
Satoshi & Makoto – CZ-5000 Sounds & Sequences
2-5 p.m.; Monday, September 3, 2023 In Sheep’s Clothing NYC at Port Sa’id Enter on King, 350 Hudson St New York, NY 10014
Inoyama Land will also be performing live from Tokyo via stream for an upcoming event on September 23rd we’re working on with JACCC and dublab dedicated to Kankyō Ongaku. Don’t miss it!