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Kankyō Ongaku / Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music

And now for something completely different…

Light In The Attic have created a Japan Archival Series and this continues early next year with Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990, an expansive overview of the country’s vital minimal, ambient, avant-garde, and New Age music – what can collectively be described as ‘kankyō ongaku’, or environmental music. This is the first ever fully licensed collection of this music outside of Japan and it features internationally acclaimed artists such as Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, as well as other pioneers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yoshio Ojima and Satoshi Ashikawa. This set is available as a 3LP vinyl box set or a deluxe 2CD book package.

In the 1970s, the concepts of Brian Eno’s “ambient” and Erik Satie’s “furniture music” began to take hold in the minds of artists and musicians around Tokyo. Emerging fields like soundscape design and architectural acoustics opened up new ways in which sound and music could be consumed. For artists like Yoshimura, Ojima and Ashikawa, these ideas became the foundation for their musical works, which were heard not only on records and in live performances, but also within public and private spaces where they intermingled with the sounds and environments of everyday life.

The bubble economy of 1980s Japan also had a hand in the advancement of kankyō ongaku. In an attempt to cultivate an image of sophisticated lifestyle, corporations with expendable income bankrolled various art and music initiatives, which opened up new and unorthodox ways in which artists could integrate their avant-garde musical forms into everyday life: in-store music for Muji, promo LP for a Sanyo AC unit, a Seiko watch advert, among others that can be heard in this collection.

Kankyō Ongaku is compiled by Spencer Doran who has been instrumental in shepherding interest in this music outside of Japan. He contributes an essay alongside the extensive sleeve notes and artists bios included with these packages.

The 3LP vinyl set features deluxe Stoughton ‘tip on’ jackets, a poster and slipcase. The 2CD edition comes in a custom seven-inch hardcover book. Both are available via the SDE shop using this link (or the buttons below) and will be released on 15 February 2019.



2CD edition comes in custom seven-inch hardcover book
  1. Still Space – Satoshi Ashikawa
  2. Glass Chattering – Yoshio Ojima
  3. Nemureru Yoru (Karaoke Version) – Hideki Matsutake
  4. Islander – Joe Hisaishi
  5. Ear Dreamin’ – Yoshiaki Ochi
  6. Variation III – Masashi Kitamura + Phonogenix
  7. Park – Interior
  8. Nube – Yoichiro Yoshikawa
  9. Meet Me In The Sheep Meadow – Yoshio Suzuki
  10. Ishiura (abridged) – Toshi Tsuchitori
  11. Tomoshibi (abridged) – Shiho Yabuki
  12. Chaconne – Toshifumi Hinata
  13. Seiko 3 – Yasuaki Shimizu
  14. Apple Star – Inoyama Land
  15. Blink – Hiroshi Yoshimura
  16. See The Light (abridged) – Fumio Miyashita
  17. Praying For Mother / Earth Part 1 – Akira Ito
  18. Breathing New Life – Jun Fukamachi
  19. Snow – Takashi Toyoda
  20. Loom – Yellow Magic Orchestra
  21. A Dream Sails Out To Sea – Scene 3 – Takashi Kokubo
  22. Umi No Sunatsubu – Masahiro Sugaya
  23. Original BGM – Haruomi Hosono
  24. Nagareru – Ayuo Takahashi (LP Only)
  25. Dolphins – Ryuichi Sakamoto (LP Only)

 

19 responses to Kankyō Ongaku / Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music

  1. David McIntyre says:

    I have to say that LITA are a pretty decent outfit and I can only base that on the ‘I am the centre’ double set of American new age music. This I will purchase as I’m currently in an ambient frame of mind through listening to Sakamoto and Susuma Yokota, whose sakura album from 2001 is just spellbinding.

  2. Dominic says:

    Hi Paul

    Do you know if there will be a download accompanying the vinyl?

    Thanks.

  3. Mikael says:

    Well, you had me att Sakamoto, Hosono and Matsutake, that’s basically the whole YMO (except Takahashi).
    I need to check this out.

  4. Ryan Perez says:

    Is there a reason why shipping cost 60$ for the USA?!

  5. Steve W says:

    Based on that sample I’m interested! Hope you put up a reminder nearer release date when I actually have some cash!! :)

  6. Ernest Kovacs says:

    Yes, thanks Paul for posting this. LITA is really great, although my one minor complaint is that their albums seem to sell out very quickly. Not sure what size CD/vinyl press runs they have, but they seem smaller than Cherry Red or similar reissue specialists.

    The point is, if a particular LITA album is remotely interesting, than I recommend prioritizing it over wish list albums from other labels!

  7. poptones says:

    Pretty nice selection. Japan has lots of great artists in the electronic, ambient, post-rock genres.

    As previous posters mentioned, Light In The Attic is a great label from Seattle. The first time I bought a record from them was In My Own Time by Karen Dalton. I didn’t know that label and didn’t know Karen Dalton either but there was a sticker on the CD with quotes from Nick Cave and Bob Dylan saying great things about her so I immediatly bought that CD and went home with it. I found out with the booklet inside that Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds used to play that album and the song “Something On Your Mind” in their tour bus a lot. Nick Cave was infatuated with that song and it’s indeed a great song and one of my favorite folk songs. Then a year later, Light In The Attic reissued Betty Davis’ first 3 albums and almost all Lee Hazlewood albums released on his label LHI (including a superb box set). I highly recommend all three (Karen Dalton, Betty Davis and Lee Hazlewood). Great artists and Light In The Attic did a great job when they reissued their albums.

  8. Tonk says:

    Used to import a lot of this stuff for discerning customers . . you’ve not lived till you’ve unboxed a 8 or 900 piece Japanese shipment . . and stuck all the MCPS stamps on ‘;0)

  9. RJS says:

    I have the two previous LITA ambient / New Age releases, “I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990” and “The Microcosm: Visionary Music of Continental Europe, 1970-1986”. They’re a very good label who’ve put together a qood back catalogue in the past 15 years.

  10. Kauwgompie says:

    Beautiful!!! Will get this for sure. After the Brian Eno box set Music For Installations I’m totally into the Ambient/New Age stuff. Bought all the early Brian Eno cd’s in the German 3 for 2. This fits right in.

    • Mr P says:

      if you are acquiring a taste for all things ambient, you might enjoy some Harold Budd, John Foxx (look for his Cathedral Oceans suite and London Overgrown – his other stuff isn’t so much ambient).

  11. andrew R says:

    Paul out of curiosity, light in the attic are a real cult label
    how does SDE end up selling their product ? Do you approach them
    or vice versa and whuy this particular compilation.
    Pure nosiness i am afraid
    Thanks

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      There’s various distributors out there that pick up stuff from small/cult labels all over the world. I get emails of stuff and sometimes things catch my eye. I know Light In The Attic are great from the Lee Hazlewood set from a few years back.

  12. Neil Parnell says:

    This label is amazing, have some of their other amazing compilations which have turned me onto tons of artists i had not known before…will be on this like a tramp on chips

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