Today (April 20) the label announced it will be embarking on its Japan Archival Series, an extensive new project described as "a painstakingly curated selection of the most captivating sounds to come from the island nation." The label adds that the series will focus on music largely unknown outside of Japan, with the series aiming to finally introduce this often elusive music to North American audiences.
The series will begin with a string of anthologies, starting with Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973. This will be followed by Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1985 and Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990. In addition, the label teases "a very special project involving one of the most respected and influential artists in Japan."
While your guess is as good as ours on who that mystery artist may be, our bets are on Yellow Magic Orchestra/Happy End legend Haruomi Hosono, who will soon be celebrating his 70th birthday this summer with a series of intimate shows in Japan.
Right now, though, so far the details have only been revealed for Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973, which will arrive via LITA on October 20.
The label introduces the comp like this:
There was something in the air in the urban corners of late '60s Japan. Student protests and a rising youth culture gave way to the angura (short for "underground) movement that thrived on subverting traditions of the post-war years. Rejection of the Beatlemania-inspired Group Sounds and the squeaky clean College Folk movements led to the rise of what came to be known in Japan as "New Music," where authenticity mattered more than replicating the sounds of idols.
Some of the most influential figures in Japanese pop music emerged from this vital period, yet very little of their work has ever been released or heard outside of Japan, until now.... This is the first-ever, fully-licensed collection of essential Japanese folk and rock songs from the peak years of the angura movement to reach Western audiences.
Among the artists represented on the comp are folk-psych rock legends Happy End, that group's Haruomi Hosono, Julian Cope-approved progressive folk collective Itsutsu No Akai Fuusen, the "Japanese Joni Mitchell" Sachiko Kanenobu and Sadistic Mika Band founder Kazuhiko Kato, among others.
You can see the full tracklist below and pre-order the collection here, where you'll also find a series of song samples. You can also listen to Kazuhiko Kato's "Arthur Hakase No Jinriki Hikouki" below.
Of course, stay tuned for more news on future instalments in the series.
Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973:
1. Kenji Endo - "Curry Rice"
2 .Kazuhiko Yamahira & The Sherman - "Sotto Futari De"
3. Sachiko Kanenobu - "Anata Kara Toku E"
4. Fluid - "Rokudenashi"
5. Kazuhiko Kato - "Arthur Hakase No Jinriki Hikouki"
6. Happy End - "Natsu Nandesu"
7. Takashi Nishioka - "Man-in No Ki"
8. Masato Minami - "Yoru Wo Kugurinukeru Made"
9. Maki Asakawa - "Konna Fu Ni Sugite Iku No Nara"
10. Fumio Nunoya - "Mizu Tamari"
11. Haruomi Hosono - "Boku Wa Chotto"
12. Takuro Yoshida - "Aoi Natsu"
13. Akai Tori - "Takeda No Komori Uta"
14. Gu - "Marianne"
15. Tetsuo Saito - "Ware Ware Wa"
16. Gypsy Blood - "Sugishi Hi Wo Mitsumete"
17. Hachimitsu Pie - "Hei No Ue De"
18. Ryo Kagawa - "Zeni No Kouryouryoku Ni Tsuite"
19. The Dylan II - "Otokorashiitte Wakaru Kai"