Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Album Review: Various Artists - Nippon Acid Folk 1970​-​1980

Various Artists
Nippon Acid Folk 1970​-​1980
**** out of *****

The British based, reissue focused, label Time Capsule has released this intriguing collection titled Nippon Acid Folk 1970​-​1980. Usually when these reissues arrive they are overwhelming with obscurity, but in this case the label does a good job highlighting eight catchy tracks that deliver an enchanting vibe throughout.
The collection opens with Hiroki Tamaki's "Kawa (River)" setting the tone for what is to follow with pristine vocals, acoustic strumming, light swirling synths, a palpable groove and a violin break that is a highlight. The sweet rolling adventure of a song is pleasant trip down the title body of water with artistic breaks in the flow. The following "Kaze Wo Atsumete (Gather the Wind)" by Happy End may be the most well known track (to Americans at least) as it was featured on the Lost In Translation soundtrack. It has great organ work, bass, light guitars and a catchy as hell chorus; even for people who do not speak Japanese.

The collection does a nice job showing the range of this acid folk era in Japan with a few songs that would have been at home on American FM radio if sung in English and a few that push the sonic boundaries out on the fringes.

Tamaki's second song here "Beautiful Song" lives up to the title with soothing sweet vocals, an easy light FM vibe in the vein of Simon & Garfunkel with some vocal gymnastics tossed in around pretty piano work while Niningashi's "Hitoribotchi (On My Own)" adds percussion, woodwinds, piano and a great guitar solo to spice up a pretty straight ahead tune.

More on the experimental side are Takashi Nishioka's "Man In No Ki (The Crowded Tree)" which sets things up via a deep bass and dramatic percussion, building with cool, freaky electric guitars and wailing set at a distance to not overwhelm the vibe, but enhance it. Tokedashita Galasubako's "Anmari Fukasugite (Far Too Deep)" is the most experimental of this collection as the strums turn towards a creeping piercing pump organ, rising as if out of a horror movie, as the singing and glass breaking all color the out there effort.

The collection wraps up with the "Hotaru (Firefly)" that uses spacey keys, wandering vocals and a pleasant groove. While eight tracks can clearly not capture the full era, Nippon Acid Folk 1970​-​1980 does an admirable job of highlighting this particular time and sound, acting as an introduction, giving fans an entry point to explore more of the sonic goodness if they desire.
Buy the album and peep some video below:

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