French label Cosmocities has embraced a "life-long love story with Japanese electronics", that is now unveiled in the latest two-volume collection titled 'Denshi Ongaku No Bigaku: The Aesthetics Of Japanese Electronic Music Vol 1 and Vol 2'.
Loaded with digging delights from the deeper ends of ambient, electronica and house music vaults, the collection feels timeless, making it a must-have for those with deep listening compulsions.
Volume 1 makes a glorious opening statement with Seeds And Ground label founder K. Inoue’s synth dreamscape 'Em Paz', which is followed by his jazzy psychedelia remix of 'Drive from the Miracle'. The first two selections pave the way for the record’s flipside; celestial and enigmatic trips by Inner Science on 'Alright' and Aquarium’s 'Rainy Night in Shibuya' that easily transports listeners into a hypnotic, non-lit soundscape akin to a Lost in Tokyo moment.
Synth-injected moods lean in on the Balearic tip through Naohito Uchiyama’s 'Shugetsu', as Keta Ra leads a coastal trip into a quirky state of steady groove with ‘Equals’.
Side 3 introduces us to a weightless slice of abstract hip hop that falls ever-so-featherly on your ears by way of Yuu Udagawa's 'Infinite Possibility', which is followed by the smoky, orchestral offering of Noah’s 'Gemini - Mysterious Lot'.
The hedonistic house realm gets appropriately musky with the freaky and spellbinding mood of Sauce81’s 'Sign of Secret Love'. Keito Sano jacks things up with the mellow-disco glow and driving bass of 'Tai+Dai'.
'Folkesta' by Waltz is a reshuffled soundboard of eerie and haunting folk traits, while Kuniyuki's 'Free' drops as a splendid slice of hi-NRG piano and drums, reminiscent of Blue Note's Cuban jazz classics. Ken Ishii's version of Larry Heard's 'Can You Feel It' feels as it should — effortlessly timeless.
Volume 2’s direction puts a focus on the “boogier side of Japanese sonics”, subtly drifting towards afro-house sensibilities and spacey dance floor goodness.
London-based Seiji Ono’s sun-drenched, percussive ode to Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage 'Celebrate Your Life' sets the tone for the second part of the Denshi Ongaku No Bigaku collection. The sunny vibes continue with Uyama Hiroto’s soothing and ethereal delivery on 'Compass'; up next are the vocal chants of J.A.K.A.M.’s 'Pray' which set us on a sultry sub-Saharan desert ride in search of oases.
Soulful jacking house from Yuu Udagawa’s 'We Float' reminds us of the celestial moment when dusk falls, which leads us into Jazztronik’s kalimba-clad, spiritual beats of 'Neon Forest' where “a haze of shakuhachi flutes and vaporous pads” assume any vacuous feelings. An irresistible and infectious piano-stab affair on 'State of Mind' by Brisa ensues. The heavier mid-frequencies take a break and make space for The Backwoods remix of Ryoma Takemasa 'Deepn’' which slips into the dreamy, stripped-back motifs of Volume 1, before returning to a synth-fuelled sunrise affair by The Backwoods aka DJ Kent, with his cosmic and ecstatic trip entitled 'Cloud Nine'.
Hiroshi Watanabe transforms 909state's 'RaTaTaTam' into a beautiful mix of slo-burning prog techno with just the right balance of acid courage and orchestral harmony. Satoshi Fumi's rework of Tomi Chair's 'Remorse' leaves us in a state of sonic opulence, and winds down Volume 2 with a perfect culmination of climactic emotions.
Even without intention, 'Denshi Ongaku No Bigaku: The Aesthetics Of Japanese Electronic Music Vol 1 and Vol 2' is set to be a timeless compilation for liberated listeners, and those who find solace in the grooves of the Far East.
'Denshi Ongaku No Bigaku: The Aesthetics Of Japanese Electronic Music Vol 1 and Vol 2' is out on July 21 on Cosomicities. Pre-order your vinyl or digital copies here.
Arun Ramanathan is Mixmag Asia’s Director. Follow him on Instagram.