INOYAMA LAND - COMMISSIONS: 1977-2000 2LP
Ambient music as environment has always been a lofty ideal of the genre and those working within it. At it's purest, ambient music can act as a space for the listener to inhabit as actively as they desire, as well as allowing the music to interact with the physical environment in which it is performed. While in the West these spaces were primarily limited to the loungerooms of the hippies and weirdos who engaged in the scene, the surprising popularity of ambient music in Japan, as well as it's booming 1980s bubble economy, meant that Japanese architects, designers, and corporations were more and more often looking towards sound artists to create soundscapes to go along with whatever project they were working on at the time.
The vast majority of Inoyama Land's new double LP Commissions is culled from this kind of work. Following the 1983 release of their Hosono-produced masterwork Danzindan-Pojidon, the duo of Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita began working with the acoustic consulting company SPD (Sound Project Design) on creating music for museums, stadiums, theater performances, and galleries. They would come, donned in their company hardhats, to these spaces while they were still being built, trying to imagine the eventual environment and it's sound over the pummeling of jackhammers and shouts of workers.
For anyone familiar with Inoyama Land's work previous to this release, this collection is a revelation. The playful, almost childlike melodies that dominated Danzindan-Pojidon are still there (and just as strong), but alongside them sit tracks of Hiroshi Yoshimura style minimalism, rolling melodies reminiscent of the very best of Roedelius, and shimmering percussion evoking a Midori Takada level of precision and restraint.
Ambient music is sometimes seen as purely functional; cold, soulless music made for inner city yoga studios and housing development PR videos. Inoyama Land's Commissions is proof that even within explicitly functional music there can be found a wealth of humanity and warmth. It is an album that lives and breathes, music that creates an environment of it's own even when divorced from the space it was explicitly created for.
This was featured in our November 2019 Newsletter. To read more from this newsletter, click here
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