Various Artists Nippon Acid Folk 1970-1980

Label
Time Capsule
Released
8th March 2024

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Format Info

LP - black vinyl
LP with 4 page insert

Born on the campuses of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and centred around newly formed independent label and left-wing stronghold URC, this Japanese form of folk expression provided an outlet for musicians who were tired of aping Western sounds and instead found ways to sing in Japanese and integrate traditional forms in new ways.

At the forefront of this movement was Haroumi Hosono, a polymath innovator whose band Happy End allegedly released the first Japanese language rock album, and whose influence would go on to be felt across Japanese music for decades. Alongside, and informed by the Kansai scene’s Takashi Nishioka and Happy End collaborator Ken Narita, they experimented with cadences and accents of the Japanese language to open the door for others to experiment with their own forms of psychedelic folk too.

Some, like Nishioka, were more inspired by Dadaism than drugs, while others, like Kazuhisa Okubo, would ultimately find work as a chemist, having founded two further folk groups that flirted with varying levels of success. Obstinately uncommercial, relentlessly creative, the music featured here represents a broad church of influences.

Worth it alone for the psychedelic nugget and house favourite by Tokedashita Garasubako (Melting Glass Box). An ethereal number taking in subtle gagaku tones with their LSD – though it’s unlikely you could score in 60s/70s Japan, Melting Glass trip out nevertheless. Deep groove folk from Hosono & Happy End is another killer, as is Takashi Nishioka, while Akai Tori presents a nice spacy number, and there’s more.

Charting the decade from 1970 to 1980 as the dreams of political and spiritual liberation seeded in the ‘60s turned to dust, Nippon Acid Folk surveys a little explored corner of Japanese music history.

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