Haruomi Hosono – 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji), 1987

Another favorite from the Hosono canon. This was the score for the first animated adaptation of The Tale of Genji, a sprawling piece of 11th century literature written by noblewoman Shikibu Murasaki, considered by many to be the first modern novel in recorded history. (Isao Tomita later write his own symphonic adaptation of the story.) … Continue reading Haruomi Hosono – 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji), 1987

Haruomi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki & Tatsuro Yamashita – Pacific, 1978

A classic. While Hosono needs no introduction around here, I’m realizing that Tatsuro Yamashita has perhaps not been given enough air time. For the unfamiliar, Yamashita is iconic in his own right, not just because of his classic Japanese Christmas favorite “Christmas Eve” or his enormous output but also because of his signature early-80’s take on … Continue reading Haruomi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki & Tatsuro Yamashita – Pacific, 1978

Haruomi Hosono – Mercuric Dance, 1985

A favorite. Not purely an ambient record, as there are a handful of more jittery, percussive tracks in the second half, but a good deal of this is, for me, ideal music to work to. Ringing, jewel-like washes of synth, but with a certain weight that similarly intentioned records seem to be lacking. The navy … Continue reading Haruomi Hosono – Mercuric Dance, 1985

Haruomi Hosono – Cochin Moon, 1978

The soundtrack to a non-existent Bollywood movie. This was supposed to be a collaboration between Hosono and illustrator Tadanori Yokoo, but the story goes that during the trip to India that spawned the record, Yokoo had a prolonged and incapacitating bout of digestive woes and the project ended up as solo Hosono, with Yokoo illustrating … Continue reading Haruomi Hosono – Cochin Moon, 1978

Veetdharm Morgan Fisher – Water Music, 1985

Morgan Fisher, a London-born musician and photographer, has had a long and dense career in which he’s covered a lot of ground–both literally and figuratively. You can read about it in detail here, but some highlights include touring with Queen, building an ambient music studio in Japan (at which Water Music was recorded, among others), … Continue reading Veetdharm Morgan Fisher – Water Music, 1985

Yumiko Morioka – Resonance, 1986

Guest post by Matt Nida (London) Sometimes the music tells its own story. I bought Yumiko Morioka’s Resonance last year in Tokyo (on the recommendation of someone who knew I’d been devouring records by the likes of Hiroshi Yoshimura, Toshifumi Hinata, Haruomi Hosono and many other names who’ll be familiar to readers of this blog) knowing nothing … Continue reading Yumiko Morioka – Resonance, 1986

Miyako Koda – Jupiter, 1998

Solo record from Miyako Koda (dip in the pool, Love, Peace & Trance, personal style hero). A bit hard to pin down, as there’s a wide range between tracks, but it all feels very true to Koda’s aesthetic: alternately playful and very sober, shifting readily between straight tone choir-boy-esque vocals and spoken word (spoiler alert: … Continue reading Miyako Koda – Jupiter, 1998

Akiko Yano – Tadaima, 1981

Not for the faint of heart, although I think the cover art should give you a pretty good sense of what you’re in for. Akiko Yano covers a lot of ground here, ranging from bubblegum reggae to pure, high-toned J-pop to the spronky sample relentlessness of new wave contemporaries like Devo, “Little Girls” era Oingo … Continue reading Akiko Yano – Tadaima, 1981

Elicoide – Elicoide, 1987

The first of two releases from the mysterious Franco Nonni (keyboards) and Paolo Grandi (strings). They released a second album in 1990 with a larger ensemble (does anyone have this lying around?), and then Nonni went on to become a psychiatrist (cool reason to break up a band). This seems to get tossed around in … Continue reading Elicoide – Elicoide, 1987

World Standard – Allo!, 1986

Hooked on this one. World Standard is the project of Sohichiro Suzuki, who seems to still be releasing music as of 2013. Surprise surprise, a few of his releases feature Hosono production. Allo! is full of of the dry genre-referencing that I strongly associate with Japanese 80s pop, especially leaning into cinematic song structures, doo-wop, … Continue reading World Standard – Allo!, 1986