A counterculture movement united by an expansive, experimental and deeply soulful sensibility, Japan’s rebel protest music challenged the status quo and changed the country’s music industry in the process.
Vinyl LP with 4 page insert, original artwork, photos
The birth of Japan’s nascent acid folk scene was rooted in the messy and invigorating political climate of the late 1960s. It is a story of Dadaists, communists, pharmacists and cult leaders, led by a young generation of upstart students, artists and dreamers hellbent on turning their world upside down.
Born on the campuses of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and centred around newly formed independent label and left-wing stronghold URC, this uniquely 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 Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Haroumi Hosono, a polymath innovator whose band Happy End 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 on Time Capsule’s Nippon Acid Folk represents a broad church of influences.
Perhaps the wildest addition to this congregation however was Hiroki Tamaki, a classically-trained violinist and committed iconoclast, whose synth-prog odysseys hinted at his obsession with the divine. Subsumed by the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, he penned an album in praise of the infamous religious leader of which two superbly mind-bending tracks are featured on this compilation.
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, but one which ultimately laid the foundations for an independent music industry, launching the careers of Hosono and others in the process.
Nippon Acid Folk 1970-1980 is pressed on 12” vinyl and represents the start of Time Capsule’s deep dive into Japan’s rich history of folk and psychedelic soul music.