Newsletter September October 2016

Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,

It’s a been a little while, but time to tell you what’s been happening over on the Far Side.

Lot’s of new releases out this month and next and lots of new stuff to listen to and watch on the Far Side web site.

Ryuichi Sakamoto has a new soundtrack album out for the film Ikari (Anger). Following his death earlier in the year, there are quite a few Tomita albums out, and a few more in the pipeline. Low price reissues of three albums, Cosmos, Pictures at an Exhibition and Firebird, plus a new compilation of his soundtracks out next month.


Two small Japanese labels releasing Asian music that have been popular in the last year or so, have new releases out. U Tin is a Burmese slide guitar player, following on from similar Burmese releases. While carrying on with their fascinating series of vintage music, comes an album of 1950s Hawaiian music of Indonesia.


From Okinawa, two of our favourite artists have new albums out. Takashi Hirayasu has probably sold more records outside of Japan than any other Okinawan musician, through his collaborations with the late Bob Brozman. It’s been a while but he has a new album out. We still don’t have a release date, and so you can’t actually order it yet, (keep a check on the web site) but you can listen to the album trailer. Kenji Yano of Surf Champlers and Sarabandge fame has a new album out of relaxing Hawaiian influenced versions of well known Okinawan songs. While for any sanshin players, the large booklet that comes with an album of Ryukyu classical music, includes the notation.


Onto roots and traditional Japanese music. Aragehonzi play festival style folk music with a modern twist. There are two very albums of ancient styles. Shigeo Tanaka plays mesmerising Yumi Kagura, on an unusual one stringed bow. Kahoru Nakamura meanwhile plays gakubiwa, the biwa used in gagaku music, interpreting lost classics.


From the experimental / avant garde scene are two 10 inch vinyl releases of interpretations of enka mood songs, and a genuinely ground breaking album from the mid 70s, featuring sax player Kazutoki Umezu recorded in New York gets a release.


After a summer break, Far Side Radio is back on the air on Resonance 104.4fm. The last three shows have been of new releases and rare oddities, a focus on Yukihiro Takahashi and this week’s show with Korean group Jeong Ga Ak Hoe who are playing in London this weekend as part of K-Music 2016. Before the break were shows of new releases, a Japanese/European special and vinyl only show. Listen via Mixcloud or via the Far Side web site.

We will be busy soon looking after an artist we have worked with for many years, India’s slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya who is back London to pick up his Songlines Magazine award and play at the winners concert at the Barbican on October 3rd for winning the Asian category, and to play a show at the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall on October 2nd. Congratulations to Debashish.

until next time.

All the best



Newsletter June/July 2016

Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,

Lots of new releases coming out this month and in July.

The ever excellent Gramo Club label, who mostly re-release recordings from the 1920s and 30s have three new albums out.


I have noticed a bit of an upturn in interest in vinyl, as you might have read about in the press, and this month are two vinyl releases, both limited edition and probably won’t be around for too long. The latest album from Metafive, featuring Yukihiro Takahashi and Keigo Oyamada (Cornelius) among others, and a personal favourite by the group Fishmans


Metafive also have a new live Blu-ray / CD, out in August but available to pre-order now.

There are two albums of loosely termed ‘traditional’ music. Kunihiro Izumi (sax player with Shibusashirazu) plays shakuhachi on an album of improvisation, folk, traditional and jazz. Late shamisen player /singer Haru Momoyama features on a recording from 1986 in a modern narrative style based on an award winning 1960s novel.


More genuinely traditional in style are four albums of Japanese Street Entertainment.


Veteran, much respected, folk singer from the 1960s and 70s, Osamu Okuno has just released his first album for thirteen years, and very good it is too. Two books, one chronicling the extensive collection of the late journalist, producer, collector Toyo Nakamura, another on 20th century popular music plus a DVD have been released as a limited edition box set. From Okinawa is a traditional CD by the brilliant Toru Yonaha.


We’ve been selling (although I’m not sure for how much longer they will be available) a limited edition of Brian Eno’s latest album with a Japan only bonus track. Staying with electronic, experimental sounds, is an album by Japanophiles Christian Fennesz and Jim O’Rourke and on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Commmons label an album by Yakushimaru Experiment.


There are seven new Far Side Radio shows to listen to again since the last newsletter, originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm; Guests from Okinawa were Kanako Horiuchi and Coo. London based Mina Mermoud also played Okinawan music, while London based Japanese journalist Akiko Shimizu played music from the excellent Zipangu label. Added to these were music from book/CD collections, the Asia Diaspora and 60s and 70s Ryukyu Rare Groove.

Thanks to all the messages wishing the best to our office in Japan, based in the area in Kumamoto where the earthquake hit. Things have settled down, although challenges still remain. Our benefit concert with Kanako Horiuchi went off brilliantly, while I’m dj’ing at this event in London, also for Kumamoto.

Until next time.

All the best


Concerts, New Releases, Earthquakes

Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,

A bit of a different newsletter this time.

Our office in Japan is located in Aso, Kumamoto where the earthquakes struck last week. After a worrying weekend of trying, on Monday I managed to speak to Naoyuki Iwami who runs the office and his shop and fortunately his family and house are fine. Electricity had just come back on, although there was still no water and supermarkets and convenience stores were either closed or had no supplies. Hopefully this situation will be improving gradually, although he and many thousands more, were still not sleeping at home because of the likelihood of more aftershocks.

You might have seen pictures and video or collapsed bridges, torn up roads and damaged rail lines. All this means it’s been impossible to get goods either in or out of the region this week. We have an order sitting there that was due to be dispatched but obviously that won’t happen yet. Sorry if you are waiting for something, but we will send things out as soon as we can. Of course, you can order as usual.

On May 18th, we are putting on a concert by Okinawan female singer Kanako Horiuchi at the Ivy House in London, together with some members of the London Sanshinkai. This will now also be a benefit concert for the victims of the earthquake. It should be a great night. You can buy tickets and find out more information from the links below

Buy Tickets Here

Here’s the Facebook Page of the Event

And here’s the information on this blog complete with videos.

We’ve also been busy helping to coordinate a show by Miharu Koshi at the House of World Cultures in Berlin, next week April 29th.

Here’s the Facebook Event page

It’s a very rare appearance in Europe by Miharu, who is partly known for her collaborations with Yellow Magic Orchestra, Haruomi Hosono and others. Please come if you are in Berlin, Germany, Europe or from further afield even if you fancy a trip! I’ll be going to, so looking forward to it.

As to new releases

A couple of legendary Japanese female artists have new albums out. There is a new live album (and limited edition version w/Blu-ray) by Akiko Yano with Tin Pan (featuring Hosono) and a studio live Blu-ray or DVD from Akiko Yano. You can watch trailer videos for both.
From the same generation, Shun Sakai has been one of the most innovative jazz musicians for many years and her album has also been recently released, and again you can watch a trailer of the album.


From South Korea, is a fantastic album by E-Do, one of the most innovative blends of traditional music with all sorts of other styles, instruments and rhythms I’ve heard in a while.


There are four new Far Side Radio shows to listen to again since the last newsletter, originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm; Middle East meets Far East, Indigenous Music from the Far East, Famous Western Musicians playing East Asian Music, and New Releases from Japan.

Listen via Mixcloud

or via the Far Side web site

You can listen live on Resonance 104.4fm in London from 12 noon on Wednesdays, via DAB digital radio in London, via Radio Player or through And don’t forget, Far Side Radio is repeated every Sunday on Resonance from 8am.

I’m having a few weeks break from the the radio as child caring duties have to take priority, as my wife is in Japan for two weeks and then I’m off to Berlin.

Until next time, hopefully with more positive news.

All the best


Kanako Horiuchi + London Sanshinkai, Ivy House, London, Wednesday May 18th 2016 (Benefit Concert for Victims of Kumamoto Earthquake)

We are delighted to announce we are putting on a show by the wonderful female sanshin player and singer from Okinawa, Japan, Kanako Horiuchi. Guests will include the fantastic London based Swiss/Japanese musician who sings, plays sanshin and the violin, Mina Mermoud and members of the London Sanshinkai.

It’s at a brilliant venue in Nunhead, South London, called The Ivy House, and it’s happening on Wednesday May 18th.

Tickets cost £7.00 in advance via We Got Tickets or it will cost £8.00 on the door. Doors open at 8.00pm with the show starting at 8.30pm.

You can read an interview with Kanako here


The music of Okinawa, in the deep south of Japan, has an indefinable island quality. A bit like everywhere but totally unlike anywhere. Okinawan music has developed from a unique set of influences down the centuries, as local traditions have mingled with those of sea faring and trading nations. Music has evolved organically until the present day, and while Japan’s musical traditions have been largely forgotten or ‘preserved’ by societies, Okinawa is the country’s only surviving enclave with a thriving and living local music rooted in a tradition.

Kanako Horiuchi is one of the Ryukyu Island’s (of which Okinawa is the biggest) leading musical ambassadors, travelling the world, spreading the sounds of the islands and sometimes collaborating with local musicians. Originally from Hokkaido, in the north of Japan, she headed south to study under some of the greats of Okinawan music, learning the real tradition from the real masters. At the same time, she developed a creative and experimental edge, joining a ska band in Okinawa, while her latest album was recorded in Senegal, West Africa, with kora player Falaye Sakho.

Kanako became a fully qualified teacher of Ryukyu music in 2007, contributed to a tribute album for YMO legend, Haruomi Hosono, and had a documentary ‘Non-Fiction W’ , made about her by acclaimed filmmaker Yuji Nakae (Nabbie’s Love, Pineapple Tours).

This promises to be a very special evening, with new collaborations and sounds and old traditions.

For all lovers of Japanese and Okinawan music and culture and an interest in roots music from around the world.

This will be a benefit concert for the victims of the recent earthquake in Kumamoto and Aso, Japan.


Newsletter March 2016

Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,

We’ve been busy!

It’s been a while so a lot has happened, with quite a lot of new stuff out this month, the latest radio shows and other stuff.

Where to start?..well, how about OKI Dub Ainu Band who have their first album out in five years. And very good it is too. The female Ainu quartet, Marewrew also have a new album out.


Yukihiro Takahashi has a box set of 80s stuff out with an unreleased DVD, a book and four hard to find remastered albums with mini LP style cardboard sleeves. His band Sadistics have three albums that haven’t been available for a while, re-released onto SHM-CDs.


Talking of box sets, there’s a very lavish set of American composer Raymond Scott that includes a CD of covers by Haruomi Hosono, Miharu Koshi and others. The two videos give a good idea on what you get.


There are three albums of live recordings from John Cage’s 1962 Japan tour with various Japanese musicians including Yuji Takahashi and Yoko Ono.


Also from Japan, is electronic soundscapes from Sugai Ken, Celtic music from Harmonica Creams, extraordinary saxophone avant-garde from Masanori Oishi, and minyo from singer Yoshiko Furuta. You can listen or watch album trailers to most of these.

There are seven Bunraku DVDs in the superb Best Selection series, some with English subtitles, and a DVD of Ryukyu Classical Dance with very information English notes.


From the rest Asia, are four CDs in the excellent Journey of Sounds series released in the 1990s; Timor, Malaca, Macau and Sumatra. From Thailand, 1970s and 80s morlam and funk music on CDs that include English notes, and a re-released album by Malaysian 1980s pop legend Sudirman.


Continuing our quest to to source the virtually unobtainable (in recent years North Korea and Burma for example) we’re buying more albums direct from Mongolia. For now there’s just a couple more although we are trying to find cheaper shipping charges, which are very expensive.


For anyone who ordered Tomita’s new album, the release has been delayed until March 23rd, and we’ll send them out soon after that. At least now, we have the cover.


There are six new Far Side Radio shows to listen to again since the last newsletter, originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm; new releases of Japanese electronic music, Chinese New Year, two shows of my recent trip to Okinawa, new releases and some other crazy stuff, and female instrumentalists for International Women’s Day.

Listen via Mixcloud

or via the Far Side web site

You can listen live on Resonance 104.4fm in London from 12 noon on Wednesdays, via DAB digital radio in London, via Radio Player or through And don’t forget, Far Side Radio is repeated every Sunday on Resonance from 8am.

February was also the fundraising month at Resonance that helps to keep the radio station on air, and pay for things like the Digital Radio platform and studio expenses. You can donate here. It would be much appreciated!

Until next time!

All the best


Newsletter January/February 2016

Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,

New releases for a new year just uploaded!

Too late for January, too early for February, so a bit of both..

I receive regular requests from people asking about any forthcoming Tomita re-releases onto SACD. Although it is out in about a month, the record company still haven’t released full details about Okhotsk Genso. We’ve put together all the information we do have, but so far no mention if it is 4.0ch Surround Sound like the ‘Ultimate Edition’ CDs, but it is SACD Hybrid.

The Japanese edition of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s soundtrack to The Revenant is out next month too.

There are three albums from Cornelius; two soundtracks and a new collection.


If J.A.K.A.M. (Juzu a.k.a. Moochy) was say British or American, I’m pretty sure he would be a star in the world club/global beats scene. He’s travelled to Senegal, Turkey, Cuba, Egypt among other places to make recordings as well as in Japan, and results are as impressive as anything else I’ve heard in this genre in recent years.


It’s getting on for six years since the terrible Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. This area in northern Japan is rich in minyo (folk) songs. Awaibito have taken these folk songs and given them new arrangements, which work surprisingly well.


Okinawa’s Nenez, the new version of the original and brilliant female quartet, have a new album out. Good in places, not in others, it’s probably fair to say.


Talking of Okinawa, I’m looking forward to going there this week to take part in the Trans Asia Music Meeting.

Back end of next week when we will send out orders you might still be waiting for.

There are three Far Side Radio shows to listen to again since the last newsletter, originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm. Christmas, New Releases and Asian Blues, and including on this newsletter the two shows of the best of 2015. Japan/Okinawa and Asia.

You can listen live on Resonance 104.4fm in London from 12 noon on Wednesdays, via DAB digital radio in London or via Radio Player or through
Not only that, Far Side Radio is repeated every Sunday from 8am on Resonance.

Until next time!

All the best


Newsletter November 2015

Dear Customer and friend of the Far Side,

You might have noticed we didn’t send our newsletter out last month. Apologies for that, and reasons why are at the end of this message.

However, we have been uploading a few things in the last couple of months.

We’ll start off in Japan with four albums of ‘New Wave Traditional Music’ from the last four decades- charting this movement of contemporary compositions performed on koto and other traditional instruments in a often minimalist style. Available separately or together as a package.


Going back to the 1980s, we’ve always enjoyed the Obon festival from Kansai, Kawachi Ondo and it’s various incarnations. Here’s a couple of entertaining Kawachi Ondo meets dub and reggae albums with videos to watch.


From Amami island in the deep south of Japan is a brilliant album by Takao Morishima, who plays the local harp called a tategoto and sings with a rasping, bluesy voice. Again, check out the video.


Respect Records is a Japanese label we have worked with for many years, including recording and licensing many titles for them. This year they celebrate their 20 Year Anniversary, and have a compilation out for which I’ve written some liner notes for.


One of the artists Respect has released is Soul Flower Union and Mononoke Summit, whose Takashi Nakagawa has a new solo album out. Here’s the album trailer.


From the rest of Asia are two female singers; a nice, evocative album of 60s Indonesian kroncong by Mariati (have a listen here) and 70s Thai morlam/lukthung from Hongthong Dao-Udon that comes with English notes. You can have a listen to this one too.


There were no Far Side Radio shows either during October, the last show being from end of September with new releases. If you missed it you can listen via the Far Side web site or on Mixcloud below.

I’ll be starting the live shows on Resonance 104.4fm from 12 noon from next week Wednesday on FM in London or streaming via

Now for the reasons for our relative inactivity over the last couple of months.

Far Side Music has for the last six years or so, been run from our family home. My Dad and I pooled resources together to covert the upstairs with a loft extension (where the office is) and create separate living areas upstairs for myself and family (3 young children) and downstairs for my ageing yet fit father. It has worked brilliantly, just about managing to balance work, family life and looking after my Dad.

However, the last few months my Dad’s health deteriorated and after having numerous tests, he was eventually diagnosed with cancer. After initially looking after him on my own, we got a lot of help from the local hospice, district nurses and carers. However, my time has been spent virtually 24/7 looking after him these last weeks as his health deteriorated rapidly. Early Wednesday morning he finally succumbed.

All of this has meant your orders might have been received later than usual, although fortunately I have help with processing orders. What I haven’t been able to delegate is adding new releases and writing the blurb for them, hence the lack of new releases recently, and responding to email enquiries. I’m still going to be busy in the coming weeks but I hope to have a bit more time. Apologies if you have waited for your order or for a response.

We’ll be along with the next edition of this newsletter in about a month’s time.

Until then,

All the best