Echaskech deliver a thrummer of a remix on this tasty package from Joey Fehrenbach. There are also entries from Mint, Audioglider, Xspance, Fractal Architect and many more. Get your lugholes all over it at your favourite digital or streaming store...
The Japanese have perfected many things. Food, gardens, electronics, cars...and also vinyl. Japanese vinyl releases are renowned for their quality, in particular the packaging. Those lovely wax discs come in resealable dust proof jackets, the record itself is never encased in scratch inducing paper but rather a poly inner. Audio quality, artwork and pressings are also mostly excellent, plus you usually get a nice looking OBI and practically always an insert containing extra artwork and detail about the artist and release.
The result of this attention to detail, and the great care taken by previous owners, means many Japanese records from previous decades are still in fantastic condition today.
Not that this is news to any serious wax collector. Here at VLSI it's only across the last five or so years that we've delved into the musical goldmine that is Japanese music. There was undoubtedly a bit of a golden period across the '70s and '80s when a number of contributing factors, such as a booming economy, cheaper electronic equipment and insatiable music consumption, led to many interesting and unique records being made.
Recently, it's been fantastic to see this music becoming more available in the West with some excellent up and coming archival releases from Light in the Attic as well as top quality reissues of classics such as Mariah's Utakata No Hibi via Palto Flats.
There is plenty more underrated music to unearth too - to help you on your way there are great online resources such as Listen to This, Organic Music and a host of mixes from the likes of Revelation Time , Listen to This & Visible Cloaks that showcase the incredible array of sounds to discover.
Below we highlight a few of our favourite discoveries with pictures of the inserts that came with the records - whose secret life, much like some of this music, is largely unknown until you open up your record to play it for the first time.
Osamu Shoji - Welcome to the Sci-Fi World
Serious kit was required to make this 1978 release - the huge modular Roland System 700 takes up the bulk of the studio. What's that weird iPod type thing on the keyboard? This is a pretty out there and intense cosmic synth album from this Anime soundtrack producer - impressive work for those of us used to computer based sequencing.
Cochin Moon - Haruomi Hosono & Tadanori Yokoo
This release rarely leaves the VLSI turntable. Another from 1978, it's Hosono's first electronic album and a psychedelic electronic masterpiece in our humble opinion. It's the kind of stuff that even one hundred years in the future, will still sound like it's beamed in from another planet. Almost proto-techno in places, tracks like Hepatitis are as original and entertaining as they come. Inspired by a trip to India, this was originally meant to be a collaboration between Hosono and Yokoo but, according to Wikipedia, a lengthy bought of stomach bug put Yokoo out of action (although he did manage to produce the excellent artwork). Here we see the party of artists relaxing in India, presumably before the stomach bug hit. Don't hesitate if you get the chance to cop this on wax - the album undoubtedly benefits from a full fidelity listen.
RA - Visions
Quite a strange experimental new wave type release this. It's peppered with short staccato samples, perhaps from an Emulator which was an 'affordable' sampling synth in '80s. The insert comes complete with this weird, probable Hieronymus Bosch, futuristic artwork - pay particular attention to the boffins in the lab bottom right, complete with mind reading head gear. Pressed at 45, this is also interesting at 33.
World Standard - World Standard
This embossed fold out insert accompanies the amazing Hosono produced first album from Soichiro Suzuki and Masaharu Mikami's World Standard. All sorts of instrumentation are used as detailed within the insert. It's pretty hard to categorise musically - is it experimental pop ambient? Whatever it might be it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Earlier this year we were delighted to be asked by Headphone Commute to contribute to their 'In the Studio' series. We've been avid readers of Headphone Commute for a number of years and have discovered loads of new music via the site. If you like year end lists, HC also provide excellent thematically grouped lists with loads of great music recommendations.
The 'In the Studio' interview series asks artists to talk a bit about their background and delve into some of their favourite bits of studio kit, production techniques and process. Featured artists include Robert Henke, F.S. Blumm, Christian Löffler, Rod Modell and many more - plenty of interesting insights and gear porn to gawp at!
You can check out the Echaskech In The Studio here. Whilst you're about it, there is also this excellent podcast for your ears - a tribute to some of the pioneers of electronic ambient music spanning 1957 to 2001.
A round up of sounds we've been enjoying across the past month or so. Anything goes be it new, old, strange, fast or slow. We mix up genres from '70s jazz to '90s ambient to drum and bass and techno. We also delve deep into the VLSI music collection and dust off a few gems from the past - hope you find something nice here for your listening pleasure!
Overlook : Smoke Signals (UVB-76)
If you find yourself hankering after a dose of Photek or DJ Krust or longing for the days when London pirate radio played nothing but firing, rolling breaks then look no further than this. Overlook produce a deep, dark and dusty d&b sound - with sub bass creeping around humid forest floors surrounded by mystic samples and spooked reverb.
Elephant Road : Various Artists (Candela Rising)
A really solid compilation of dark, technical electronic music dedicated to Amanda Moss, founder of legendary London club Corsica Studios, who has tragically passed away from a rare form of ovarian cancer. Some excellent tracks can be found here including polished trance / techno from Kangding Ray alongside blistering thumpers from Headless Horseman, Manni Dee and many more. All proceeds from the album will be donated to Target Ovarian Cancer.
Captain Ganja and The Space Patrol : Tradition (Bokeh Versions)
Bokeh Versions reach deep into UK dub history, unearthing a fine reissue of experimental cosmic vibes. Tradition definitely floats around the outer reaches of dub weirdness and is full of spacey sounds, wonky atmospherics and blunted oddities - guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Richard Crandell & Masumi Timson : Pacific Bridge (Nature Bliss)
Time for some meditative relaxation. Pacific Bridge has been a go to album recently for some calming, peaceful sounds. Featuring a unique combination of African instrument Mbira and traditional Japanese Koto, this is the type of music you want to hear whilst bathing in a Japanese hot spring surrounded by forest.
Billow Observatory : II Plains / Patterns (Azure Vista Records)
Whilst we are in ambient, laid back mode you may wish to wrap your ears around this rather lovely album from Detroit's Jason Kolb (Auburn Lull) and Denmark's Jonas Munk (Manual) who have been producing together as Billow Observatory for over a decade. The results are achingly beautiful and mesmeric - a tranquillised shoegaze soundtrack to accompany warm sunsets or dew laden mornings.
Syzygy : Morphic Resonance (Rising High)
One from the VLSI vaults and an album that's haunted us since 1994 when it was released. Back then the entire world seemed to be bathing in ambience - Mixmaster Morris and Rising High Records would even proclaim 'You're going home in a fucking ambience', Berwick Street market stunk of joss sticks and there was a whole heap of exciting and original music being released. Syzygy kindly list the pieces of equipment they used to make this on the LP sleeve including: Akai S1000, Waldorf Microwave, EMU Morpheus, Korg MS10, Korg Wavestation, Roland Super Jupiter, DX21, Kawai K4, Korg M1 and the trusty Atari ST. Morphic Resonance stands the test of time pretty well and tracks like Out of The Silent Planet still send chills down our old spines. Well worth a few more listens after all these years.
Miles Davis : On The Corner (Columbia)
A piece of wax we've kept on reaching for across the past few weeks. It was critically panned on release in 1972, too far ahead of it's own time to be appreciated. Using pioneering cut and paste tape editing techniques , On The Corner is the result of hours of improvisation around one chord from a rotating band of musicians. With a focus on repetition rather than melody this is cited by many as the precursor to hip hop, electronica, jungle and post-rock.
Jon Brooks : Autres Directions (Clay Pipe Music)
The Clay Pipe Music aesthetic is just fantastic. With artwork from label owner Frances Castle, each release is as beautifully packaged as the next. Here we find Jon Brooks composing an ode to villages in rural France, building atmospheres from manipulated field recordings and adding subtle electronics. He even goes as far as playing back his studio creations through speakers in different environments, such as country roads and disused barns, re-recording the output for added environmental effect. The Clay Pipe back catalogue is well worth exploring if you've not come across the label before.