Niningashi Heavy Way

Time Capsule
3rd May 2024

Format Info

LP - black vinyl
“A coming-of-age album, Heavy Way captured a turning point in Okubo’s life, and Japanese society more widely as a nostalgia for the pastoral calm of the traditional life, met the cosmopolitan thrill of coffee, sex and cigarettes in the big city.

Intoxicated by Tokyo, driven by a passion for music and surrounded by a thriving folk scene, the young student filtered his experiences through a cocktail of influences from the US and Japan.

Niningashi was his first band, and Heavy Way was their only album. It was honest and raw, deep and strangely funky, in an off-beat kind of way. Across nine tracks, Okubo and the 6-piece band put their own spin on the new folk sound of Japan, combining witty lyrics with electric guitar-driven solos and crisp, understated grooves.

Melancholy and profound, opening track ‘Ameagari’ feels like a synthesis of Harvest-era Neil Young and Haruomi Hosono’s Happy End. Then there’s the whimsical washboard country sound of ‘Semai Boku No Heyade’; the moody, low-lit charm of ‘Restaurant’; and ‘Hitoribotchi’, a sensitive portrayal of childhood, steeped in memories of rainfall that will resonate with fans of Woo and Mac Demarco.

While Okubo would go on to taste success with folk bands Neko and Kaze, the latter of which scored three #1 albums, little is known about his mysterious debut with Niningashi.

Self-released by Okubo in 1974, and featuring album artwork by his brother, it has slowly generated a cult following online, intrigued by its soft and enchanting sound. So few records were ultimately pressed that those remaining have fetched up to £1,500 online.”