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80s Japanese Music: Not What You Would Think It Is

When one thinks about Japanese culture, one tends to associate themes such as being over the top and fantastical. This is because of the fact that Japanese culture tends to have all of these qualities, but that does not mean that there are a few examples of Japanese culture that are a lot subtler than what you would expect, and one example of this is the wave of minimalist music that started coming out of Japan in the eighties. Minimalist music tends to involve a lot of subtle textures and very few changes, and if the changes come they take a very long time to be put in place.

While we may have a label for this kind of music now, in the 80s people had no way of describing it whatsoever because it was so far outside of what anyone had attempted to do before. For this very reason, the music that these artists created ended up going pretty unappreciated for the longest time except for a few surges in popularity in the 90s. Now, however, people are started to realize that this wave of music existed and are beginning to appreciate it a lot more. This is because people have started to finally catch up with what these Japanese musicians were trying to do in the 80s. In a way, their ears have finally evolved enough to allow them to enjoy the music that was being made during that period in time.

One example of a Japanese minimalist ambient musician from the 80s is Midori Takada who made a name for herself through various musical projects but considered this to be her best work. Despite her high opinions of her own album, the record received very little critical and commercial success for about thirty or so years. Her album, Through the Looking Glass, was meant to be a look into the other side of Tokyo. Amidst the chaotic sounds of city life you would find immense tranquility in what Midori was trying to create, and it is because of this that she is able to provide so many incredible aural textures. She often incorporated the harsh mechanical sounds of Tokyo into her work as well in order to juxtapose them with the subtler music that she was creating, thereby drawing a parallel between the two worlds that she was trying to describe.

However, perhaps the most iconic album of this time period is Green by Hiroshi Yoshimura, a cult legend in Japan that is once again better known for all of his other work rather than this piece of art. This album laid the groundwork for the entire minimalist movement that Takada also became a part of.

One thing that set these minimalist artists apart was the fact that they felt the desire to be different. In their attempts to do something new, they created an art form that would go down in history as iconic and extremely influential.

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