Boomkat Product Review:
Tokyo’s conatala label chase that Pale Cocoon gem with World Standard’s charmingly naif 1982 ambient anachronisms, plucked from demo tapes made before they produced their debut with Haruomi Hosono, and now issued for the first time on vinyl.
The first in a series unearthing World Standard’s early demos, ‘Asagao’ depicts two young lads in Tokyo gently going against the grain of new wave and techno-pop trends, and perhaps most crucially, forging an alternative to environmental ambient’s obsession with synths. Recording in a room in Michio Kojima’s parents’ house, he and Soichiro Suzuki coaxed out a dreamy folk-wise sound from acoustic instruments (upright piano, mandolin, ukulele, cardboard drums) ping-ponged between two tape decks, most beautifully incorporating the everyday sounds of TV bleeding in from other rooms and the sound of Kojima’s grandparents shuffling around and popping their heads into the room through sliding doors.
These recordings capture the warmly fraternal atmosphere of two artists following their noses, playing up to an urge for more nostalgic, classic styles that subtly defied contemporary, ubiquitous tastes for synthetic production, and naturally keeping in step with the home-built, DIY principles of that era. Their music appears as an escape to more bucolic places from their Tokyo locale, specialising in warbly, wonky offbeat melodies that imaginatively transport them and us from the 1950s Japanese house were they were born and raised, to the sort of scenes they may have absorbed from vintage European movies, all coming off with the sort of whimsical charm of an Anime soundtrack about a magic music box, directed by Wes Anderson.
The duo went on to attract the attention of YMO’s Haruomi Hosono, who would produce their shinier debut as World Standard for his Non Standard label in 1985, but these recording remain testament to the duo’s stripped back and quietly inventive early sound in a way that will charm fans of Woo and The Boats endlessly.