“Oto No Wa” (Selected Sounds of Japan 1988 – 2018)”: Album Review

The 5th entry in the Music For Dream’s Collector’s Series brings together Japan’s Ken Hidaka (pictured), Max Essa and Dr. Rob, who have expertly compiled a collection of ambient, chill-out, and jazztronica with Japanese inspired soundscapes produced by a wide range of Japanese artists. 14 tracks are packaged as a Vinyl Double LP, a CD, and as a Digital download, available on March 27, 2020 via Kenneth Bager’s Music For Dreams label.

Beginning in the late 1980s, the era when “environmental music became prevalent, Yoshi Ojima was a pioneer in the field and was an absolute perfect choice to kick off this collection. His sublime computer generated track “Sealed” is unparalleled. Olololop, the organic psychedelic collective comes in at track number two with their trippy “Orte REMIX”—headphones are required!

For selection number 3, Kazuya Kotani’s “Fatima” dazzles with shuffle drum beats, pecrussion breaks and interludes, lush spoken word vocals in the French language, a lovely piano melody and beautifully placed synth layers. Quite exquisite.

Schadaraparr’s “N.I.C.E. Guy (Nice Guitar Dub)” features a jazz piano riff, upper-register synths, subtle percussion and a fantastic acoustic guitar rhythm that guarantees “feelin’ good!” “Frostie,” is the fusing of contemporary Jazz & Reggae track by the 9-piece band Little Tempo. The song features a jazzy piano melody that stands way out front, fat bottom bass rhythms, explosive beats, and pans/steel drums.

Coco and The Fish” by Karel Arbus and Eiji Takamatsu weaves wild and improvised percussion using sticks and stones with dramatic electronics and synth layers making it one of the more interesting tracks of the collection.

At the halfway point, Kentaro Takiwawa’s “Gradual Life (Album Version)” features bird song, brightly colored synths and electronics and uber-soothing acoustic guitar and piano melody. Yoshiaki Ochi is up next with his percussion heavy hypnotic and mesmerizing “Balasong.” Want a serene feeling of water and waves? Kaoru Inoue’s “Wave Introduction” provides the serenity. “Scuba” by Little Big Bee continues the “water works” only this time with a more emphasized bass line, interspersed and brillaintly placed electronics and soft synths.

We’re now reaching the last four tracks of this collection. “Coastlines” brings the island vibe and man, it features a deep fat bass line, steel drums and other various percussion instruments. Susumu Yokota’s “Uchu Tanjyo” is another totally unique selection. All I can say about it is, it’s really unlike other track on this album.

At track number 13 is Chillax’s “Time & Space (Short).” It’s super chill with a very minimalist feel giving into lots of space, creating a tranquil and peaceful feeling. Now that you have reached the end, Hidaka, Essa and Dr. Rob once again expose their collective musical tastes. “Quiet Inlet” brings calming sounds of rolling waves, delicate and bright piano and soft voicings. A wonderful closing choice.

“Oto No Wa” (Selected Sounds of Japan 1988 – 2018) is the result of like minded individuals with similar tastes in music. As readers and listeners, we all should be thankful that the Music For Dreams team had the vision to recruit these three Japanese pioneers to compile this “Indispensable” collection.

It’s not often that we’ve anointed a release with 5/5 Stars. It’s only happened a couple of times and this album is most worthy of those accolades.

Get it March 27, 2020 at Music For Dreams.

—Joseph Arthur

Oto No Wa


User Rating

0 (0 Votes)


5/5 StarsScore

No Replies to "“Oto No Wa” (Selected Sounds of Japan 1988 - 2018)": Album Review"

    Leave a reply

    Your email address will not be published.