In the early 1980s, the Japanese singer, bassist, and producer Haruomi Hosono created an idea he called “sightseeing music.” It is a mode of making and listening that asks both creators and consumers to think of themselves as musical tourists, soaking up the sights and sounds of foreign cultures with an open mind and documenting them through personal translations. This peripatetic strategy ignored walls between genres and operated with an ethos of open borders and freewheeling hybridity. This concept powered a catalog of near-encyclopedic breadth. New Orleans funk, Okinawan folk, big-band swing, Bollywood bop, jazz fusion, acid-house chaos: A true musical polymath, Hosono has explored it all.
Hosono is best known internationally as a key member of the rock band Happy End and the pioneering electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra, with Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Hosono and Takahashi also ran Yen Records which was an imprint of Alfa Records that ran from 1982 to 1985.
The krautrock and kosmische inspired synth fantasias and pastoral prog dreamscapes of Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita who had met back in 1977 and formed Hikashu, caught the attention of Hosono in the early 80s. Makoto and Yasushi formed Inoyama Land and were pioneers of the kankyō ongaku (environmental music) scene in Japan. Alongside peers like Hiroshi Yoshimura and Yutaka Hirose, they were known for creating commissioned music for museums, public spaces, stadiums, commercials, and theatre. Their music for a slime mold exhibition was so well received that it became one of their few commercially released works from the '90s.
Hosono went on to produce and release their stunning Danzindan-Pojidon LP on his label Yen Records. Almost completely instrumental and very heavy on the synths, the beautiful simplicity of Danzindan-Pojidon feels like floating on a pond with nowhere to go and nothing to do. The record ranges from the rippling new-age ballet of “Wässer,” to the more germanic and abstract “Collecting Net,” to the pastoral flute on “Pon”–exploring repetitive and ambient synth patterns with just enough tension to keep this from being a squarely new age record. "
"Ambient excursions from a desert island far away in the Japanese sea where dragonflies, squids, turtles and peafowls live between clover, cryptomeria and apple trees, all driven by some hopeful, mellow harmonies emerging from the water around and below them...”
Hosono built a special "Water Delay System" for the sound design of "Pokala", "Glass Chaim", "Mizue", "Meine Reflexion" and "8·31". Three speakers and a woofer are placed in the water (with rubber or vinyl covering) or on the water surface in a tank, the delayed sound is then recorded with a simple microphone and mixed together with the original recordings, so that the music sounds exactly like diving through the underwater cave on Inoyama Land.