Searching for Japanese Ambient and Experimental Music

Searching for Japanese Ambient and Experimental Music

Finding multicultural ambient and experimental music on Youtube is challenging.

I am always on a bughunt for new, underappreciated, unusual, and just plain unclassifiable music, and YouTube is one of my favorite resources.

But along the way, there are funny wrong turns.

I was searching for Japanese ambient sounds when I ran across this record (Through the Looking Glass by Midori Takada) and wasn't quite prepared for the minimalist, abstract-but-still-rooted-in-musical forms LP, which about a half hour in goes for more minimalism to great effect.

So while this was a well-realized and sonically complex listening experience, it wasn't quite what I was after.

I found myself even further away from ambient sounds with the late Ryuichi Sakamoto's Riot in Lagos, which feels in places like an experimental record pretending to be pop. In all the BEST ways.

 End and Beginning by Takeo Suzuki is closer to what I thought I would find in abundance whilst searching for Japanese ambient.

This album, informed by Buddhism and designed to facilitate meditation, yoga, and other practices, is a slow-burn ambient record that builds...and builds...but gently, until you reach a certain level of intensity still conducive to meditating. More traditionally ambient...not necessarily BETTER than any of the above, just in a different direction.

Finally, I tried some of this Light In The Attic release, Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990. I love compilations like these because you get a cross-section of sounds and related is a Satoshi Ashikawa track from that compilation.

This was probably the best middle ground I could find in terms of what I THOUGHT might be lurking out there. I am not an expert in Japanese experimental, ambient, or unusual sounds, so I welcome suggestions and links to YouTube vids that might expand my horizons.

Joe Wallace

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