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Rough Guide:  The Music of Japan
Various Artists
Rough Guide: The Music of Japan
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
 
  •  Track Listings (19) - Disc #1

The inimitable travel mavens at Rough Guides are not offering your average travel fare, and their counterparts in music are also looking for the unusual and the undercovered. This guide to Japanese music sidesteps the obvi...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Rough Guide: The Music of Japan
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: World Music Network
Original Release Date: 4/20/1999
Re-Release Date: 5/11/1999
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
Styles: Traditional Folk, Far East & Asia
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 605633103120

Synopsis

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The inimitable travel mavens at Rough Guides are not offering your average travel fare, and their counterparts in music are also looking for the unusual and the undercovered. This guide to Japanese music sidesteps the obvious shakuachis, kodo drums, and No theater music in favor of taiko-rap, ondo-funk, Okinawa-pop, and some forms yet to be hyphenated, let alone explained. It runs the gamut, from the mediocre pop of Kawachiya Kikusuimaru (toss-off synths and drum machines) to the brilliant avant-garde biwa (lute) and accordion of Yukihiro Goto and the minimalist koto quartet Koto Vortex. Humor abounds in the Surf Champlers' weird Tokyo take on the James Bond movies' theme. Fuzzy electric blues meets Okinawa in the music of An-Chang Project, fronted by the emotive vocals of Yasuba Jun. The set has it all, great, good, bad, and awful in pretty equal amounts, but for the good and great alone it's worth the price, and the bad and awful are certainly enlightening and entertaining. --Louis Gibson

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CD Reviews

An Intriguing Musical Box of Rocks
Crazy Fox | Chicago, IL USA | 06/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Well, this CD certainly offers the listener an eclectic mix of Japanese music. It's hard not to like it for that reason alone. One strength of the album is that it includes the kind of music you'll never hear on any other compilation. Both traditional classical music and modern pop music are largely eschewed; instead, most of the tracks are what one might call contemporary folk music--urban satirical songs and sales-pitch ditties, country shamisen music from the Northeast, and lots of music from Okinawa, and such. Pretty much all of it is more or less interesting, though to assume that this is a representative sample of Japanese music would be way off. And never listen to this CD if you want a consistent mood...this stuff is all over the place.

As much as I've enjoyed the variety and oddity of this CD many a time, a few things about it do annoy me. First, music from Okinawa seems too over-represented. Don't get me wrong, the Okinawan tracks on this CD are great, but since there's a Rough Guide CD for "The Music of Okinawa" they seem a bit redundant here, and their lively tropical mood is very, very different from mainland Japanese music (Okinawa was an independent kingdom for centuries, after all). Second of all, while the liner notes are in general pretty good, it would've been nice if a translation of the lyrics for those songs with vocals had been included--much of the point of some of the songs resides in the wit and humor of their lyrics, and this is pretty much lost on you unless your Japanese listening comprehension is truly exceptional. Finally, a couple of the tracks are excerpts, and I'd really rather hear the whole thing when it comes right down to it.

Such nitpicks aside, though, this is an unusual collection of Japanese music that never gets boring. Some are gems, some are diamonds in the rough, and some are just pebbles--yet all have a distinctive charm."
Interesting sampler of Japanese music
Crazy Fox | 09/06/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is not another CD of koto, shamisen, and shakuhachi. It offers a perspective on Japanese music not found on most other compilation CDs I've heard. Especially interesting is the last track, Shi Chome, which sounds like a Japanese version of Klesmer music."
Japanese music you wouldn't hear elsewhere.
J. English | USA | 08/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great CD that features some Japanese psuedo-folk-rock songs. Not the stuff you hear in the Japanese restaurants, but not J-Pop either. Features a few selections of Okinawan-scaled music which is really interesting. I particularly like "Haisai Ojisan," one of the Okinawan tunes which has a Hawaiian slide guitar twang to it. This CD is definitely not for everybody, but I sure like it."