How Japan’s Landscape Inspired a New Kind of Electronic Music

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Japan’s ever-changing, contrasting landscapes have influenced its culture for centuries, through both technological advancement and natural phenomena. The awe-inspiring wonder of Mount Fuji is just a 30-minute train ride from the Blade Runner-like high-rises of Tokyo. New volcanic islands surrounding Japan have been formed as recently as 2013. The crashing seas of Kanagawa, in the east of Japan, became a muse for Hokusai famous 1830s woodblock painting, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

While Japan’s role in the evolution of contemporary music cannot be understated, much of the popular music we commonly associate with the country is created by machines. The Osaka-based Roland Corporation’s legendary line of synthesizers and drum machines have continued to reinvent everything from dub to DnB ever since its first release, the TR-77 rhythm box, in 1972. The hyperbolic madness of J-Pop is defined by the hi-NRG kicks and kaleidoscopic synth lines that soundtrack Tokyo’s neon-lit walkways and fill its arenas. And let’s not forget the massive contribution of 8-bit composers like Koji Kondo, and the video game music he and his contemporaries pioneered. But away from computer music or button-bashing classics, the natural sounds of Japan are equally encapsulating sources of inspiration for those who search them out.