Various Artists

Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990

Image of Various Artists - Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990
Record Label
Light In The Attic

About this item

Light In The Attic’s Japan Archival Series continues with Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990, an unprecedented overview of the country’s vital minimal, ambient, avant-garde, and New Age music – what can collectively be described as kankyō ongaku, or environmental music. The collection features internationally acclaimed artists such as Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, as well as other pioneers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yoshio Ojima and Satoshi Ashikawa, who deserve a place alongside the indisputable giants of these genres.

In the 1970s, the concepts of Brian Eno’s “ambient” and Erik Satie’s “furniture music” began to take hold in the minds of artists and musicians around Tokyo. Emerging fields like soundscape design and architectural acoustics opened up new ways in which sound and music could be consumed. For artists like Yoshimura, Ojima and Ashikawa, these ideas became the foundation for their musical works, which were heard not only on records and in live performances, but also within public and private spaces where they intermingled with the sounds and environments of everyday life. The bubble economy of 1980s Japan also had a hand in the advancement of kankyō ongaku. In an attempt to cultivate an image of sophisticated lifestyle, corporations with expendable income bankrolled various art and music initiatives, which opened up new and unorthodox ways in which artists could integrate their avant-garde musical forms into everyday life: in-store music for Muji, promo LP for a Sanyo AC unit, a Seiko watch advert, among others that can be heard in this collection.

Kankyō Ongaku is expertly compiled by Spencer Doran (Visible Cloaks) who, with a series of revelatory mixtapes as well as his label Empire of Signs (Music For Nine Postcards), has been instrumental in shepherding interest in this music outside of Japan. Together with Light In The Attic’s celebrated anthologies I Am The Center and The Microcosm, Kankyō Ongaku helps to broaden our understanding of this quietly profound music, regardless of the environment in which it’s heard.


Patrick says: Now, while the Japanese ambient revival has been going on for some years (check out essential reissues on Palto Flats, WRWTFWW, 17853) Light In The Attic steal a march on their competitors with this sublime compilation of obscurities from the Land of the Rising Sun. Wonderfully packaged, presented and curated, "Kankyo Ongaku" is a fitting companion to "I Am The Center" and the "Microcosm", exploring the New Age and ambient sounds of 80s Japan. Minimal, relaxing and utterly beautiful, this music is almost heavenly.


Still Space - Satoshi Ashikawa
Glass Chattering - Yoshio Ojima
Nemureru Yoru (Karaoke Version) - Hideki Matsutake
Islander - Joe Hisaishi
Ear Dreamin' - Yoshiaki Ochi
Variation III - Masashi Kitamura + Phonogenix
Park - Interior
Nube - Yoichiro Yoshikawa
Meet Me In The Sheep Meadow - Yoshio Suzuki
Ishiura (abridged) - Toshi Tsuchitori
Tomoshibi (abridged) - Shiho Yabuki
Chaconne - Toshifumi Hinata
Seiko 3 - Yasuaki Shimizu
Apple Star - Inoyama Land
Blink - Hiroshi Yoshimura
See The Light (abridged) - Fumio Miyashita
Praying For Mother / Earth Part 1 - Akira Ito
Breathing New Life - Jun Fukamachi
Snow - Takashi Toyoda
Loom - Yellow Magic Orchestra
A Dream Sails Out To Sea - Scene 3 - Takashi Kokubo
Umi No Sunatsubu - Masahiro Sugaya
Original BGM - Haruomi Hosono
Nagareru - Ayuo Takahashi (LP Only)
Dolphins - Ryuichi Sakamoto (LP Only)

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