Music From Memory is excited to announce a special compilation that they’ve been working on for some time now; Heisei No Oto – Japanese Left-field Pop From The CD Age. Compiled by long-time friends of the label, Eiji Taniguchi and Norio Sato, Heisei No Oto delves into a world of music released almost exclusively on CD and brings together a fascinating selection of discoveries from a little known and overlooked part of Japan’s musical history.
Sometime around the mid 2000s, two Osaka record store owners, Eiji Taniguchi of Revelation Time and Norio Sato of Rare Groove, along with a handful of deep Japanese diggers such as Chee Shimizu of Organic Music records in Tokyo, began to explore beyond the typical ‘grooves’ or ‘breaks’. Much like their counterparts in Europe and the US, they began delving into home-grown ambient, jazz, new wave and pop records, discovering visionary music, often driven by synthesizers or drum computers, that broke beyond the typical confines of their genres.
The title of the compilation Heisei No Oto refers to the sound of the Heisei era, which began in 1989 and corresponds to the reign of Emperor Akihito until his abdication in 2019. Marking the culmination of one of the most rapid economic growths in Japanese history, 1989 also coincided with the music industry’s final shift away from vinyl in favour of CDs. And, although compact discs were first introduced seven years earlier it wasn’t until late into the ‘80s that, beyond dance music labels, CDs became the exclusive format for major and independent labels in Japan and throughout the world.
Including music by Haruomi Hosono as well as Yasuaki Shimizu, Toshifumi Hinata and Ichiko Hashimoto who have become known and loved around the world in recent years, Hesei No Oto also features Japanese pop star Yosui Inoue, producers Jun Sato and Keisuke Kikuchi in aaddition to less established artists from the contemporary, jazz, new wave, pop and dance music scenes. Bringing together a selection of tracks that seem to define these specific genres and in fact move fluidly between a number of them, the music on the compilation is again underscored by experimentations with synthesizers and drum computers though with something of a gentle Pop sensibility. Reimagined here then under the encompassing term ‘Left-field Pop’, this is an exciting chapter in Japanese musical history that has only just begun to be fully explored.