Boomkat Product Review:
A modern take on the kankyō ongaku style, Taro Nohara's latest full-length is a "two-part adventure of contemplative peace" rendered with delicate electronics, psychedelic textures and hypnotic rhythms. RIYL Midori Takada, Susumu Yokota, Hiroshi Yoshimura.
Also known as Yakenohara, and part of Not Not Fun's UNKNOWN ME, Taro Nohara has been active as a DJ and producer in Tokyo for years. His concept with this first album under his own name is simple, he wanted to reimagine the Japanese environmental music sound (kankyō ongaku) for a new generation, building on its original promise. It's an interesting idea - each week it feels as if there's another record pulled from the music's 1980s heyday, but there aren't so many contemporary artists asking where the sound might go next.
Nohara takes the expected components - watery synthesizers, field recordings, dreamy pads - and injects them with the listlessness of the vaporwave era. Opening track 'Shishi Odishi' hits on the mall music-cum-Ecco soundtrack note, but stops short of being repetitive, squeezing fractal sonix out of the synths. 'African Buddhist Temple' is more unexpected - the title had us expecting a Midori Takada-influenced percussive workout, but Nohara is more interested in lightning fast pinprick percussion (singeli influenced, maybe?) and meditative synths.
Later tracks like 'Freakout Ondo' are where the album slips into its own gear, using hip-hop production techniques to create loping soundscapes from Japanese percussive sounds and ghostly environmental sounds. Nohara's motivation was to create an organic soundscape for a "mind-soothing walk through time" - job done.