Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,
For a change we’re not starting with Japan but elsewhere in Asia. As in recent months, you don’t just look at nice covers anymore, but in many cases there are videos to watch as well as tracks to listen to.
There’s a fantastic new album by Bird Thamarat and Kook Onsurang of Thai Lukthung, done in the 70s style that’s popular at the moment.
We’ve never had that many Burmese albums in our catalogues, but this month there are four new albums, (one of them is Japanese produced, the others direct from Burma). From instrumental traditional to vocal and hip-hop mixed with traditional.
Also new are two excellent books on Malaysian music. Just for the Love It, is written entirely in English and comes with a CD. Musika delves back a bit further to the beginning of the last century, and is in both English and Malay.
And there’s another album with original LP artwork, cardboard sleeve in the 60s/70s Hong Kong/Taiwan series from singer Yang Xiao Ping.
So, onto Japan! Eika Utsumi is a singer and shamisen player who has recorded a superb album with trombone player and jazz musician Hiroshi Munekiyo and a band of both traditional and jazz musicians. Gideon Juckes was once the tuba player with British folk band Bellowhead, and has lived in Japan for several years. He’s played on many albums as a backing musician, but this time out in front as a duo with drummer Fu-Ching as Fu-Ching Gido. They describe their music as heavy rock meets heavy gypsy meets heavy multi-tasking. Both albums worth a look.
Argentine born, Spanish shakuhachi player Rodrigo Rodriguez has a new album out, also definitely worth checking out, with another great video.
When I first went to Japan in 1989, a really wonderful record label called Audi-Book soon came to my attention. Many of the releases came in beautiful digi-pack style book + CD and featured rare tracks from across the globe. I learnt they were all lovingly compiled by possibly Japan’s foremost music journalist and avid record collector Toyo Nakamura. The label eventually stopped releasing albums in 1997, since when many have become expensive collectors items. Toyo Nakamura died in 2011, and some of the original albums have once again surfaced in limited quantities, to mark an exhibition of Toyo’s collection at a museum in Japan. Guides to music from Puerto-Rico, South Africa, Haiti, and three usual CD compilations of various music from around the world.
A couple of guests from Okinawa arrived with a SD card they had compiled of 100 new tracks from Okinawa from all sorts of music genres.
Another show featured some of the new releases out this month
and the latest was of some amazing Indonesian music from the 1960s to 90s.
or we’ll be along with the next edition of this newsletter in about a month’s time.
Until then, hope there’s something of interest.
All the best