Boomkat Product Review:
Empire of Signs follow Hiroshi Yoshimura foundational 'Music For Nine Postcards' with a much needed look at Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita’s Inoyama Land project, expanding on their sound heard on 'Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990' to illuminate material that is even lesser known outside of Japan – some of it presented publicly for the first time, written as the soundtrack to a museum exhibit on slime molds and now making its vinyl premiere after years in the archive.
"A portmanteau of their family names, the “Land” of Inoyama hovers between imagined mythical space and concrete reality, extending beyond physical releases into installations, site-specific sound design and theatre scores. After their famed Haruomi Hosono-produced 1983 release Danzindan-Pojidon, the duo became involved in the budding environmental music business that was taking shape in Tokyo during the development boom of the asset bubble – working directly with figures like Hiroshi Yoshimura (with whom they developed sound design for the International Stadium in Yokohama) and Takashi Sekiguchi (Bamboo from Asia).
Working initially with Munetaka Tanaka’s Sound Process Design (an acoustic consulting company formed by Tanaka with Satoshi Ashikawa, before Ashikawa’s tragic death in 1983), their commissioned work mirrors the sound world first fleshed out on Danzindan: chiming synthesizers, pastoral hues, childhood memory – all pulsing with a distant, emotional resonance. This material – culled from limited CD issues of the material on Tanaka’s Crescent label, Kazunao Nagata’s Transonic Records and self-released CDRs – presents a window into this process, illustrating how Inoue and Yamashita’s idiosyncratic musical identity gelled perfectly with all of the disparate environments of their commissions. Included is music written for the Kankaku (Sense) Museum in Miyagi, an exhibit on slime molds at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno park, the 1977 stage performance Collecting Net (which also included music that would later become Danzindan-Pojidon) and their score for a Tokyo re-staging of New York avant-theatre pioneer Richard Foreman’s post-modern stage piece Egyptology."