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Various Artists - 1985 - Welcome To Dreamland
This is the record which introduced the Japanese avant-garde scene to the Western audiences. Fred Frith (the creator and producer of this compilation) was among the very first musicians who visited Japan and had many collaborations with the local artists that today are well-known worldwide: Keiji Haino, Tenko, Chie Mukai, Haco, After Dinner, Mizutama Shobodan. Fred Frith did almost everything in this record: he discovered the music, he gathered the artists, he recorded them, he mixed the recordings and did the production, he took the cover photo, he even made one of the tracks from the remains of the recordings! (the opening "Fake").
As Frith said in the liner notes "A lot of new rock exists in Japan. It may be slavishly imitative, like anywhere else, or it may be breathtakingly fresh unlike anywhere else. Not much of any of it gets heard outside of Japan. Some of it doesn't fit and won't go away." Indeed in Welcome To Dreamland were a lot to be discovered: from the european cabaret of Luna Park Ensemble, to the theatrical night song of After Dinner, to the kokyu (chinese violin) of Chie Mukai - who gives us an absolutely amazing version of "All Tomorrow's Parties", a whole new world was brought to light (at least for the rest of the world).
Welcome To Dreamland - subtitled Another Japan - released in vinyl in 1985 according to the back cover and 1986 according to the labels, on Celluloid Records and although it is widely recognized as a cornerstone in the Japanese underground, it was never reissued.
Rock Album of the Week: ''Welcome to Dreamland: Another Japan'' (Celluloid). The avant-rock guitarist Fred Frith, a catalyst for improvised music in New York, went to Japan in 1984 and recorded more than a dozen bands for an album that, he writes, ''isn't an overview and it isn't complete.'' It is, however, full of the same cosmopolitan, noncommercial spunk that animates New York's downtown rockers. There are parodic bits of European cabaret and a Japanese version of ''The International''; there are also bits of heavy-metal, pop-rock, noise-rock and less categorizable selections that mix Japanese instruments, electric guitars and found objects - even hints of traditionalist delicacy. Along with its novelty value, ''Welcome to Dreamland'' can probably disprove any generalization about current Japanese music. (Jon Pareles , N.Y.Times, Oct.17,1986)
Welcome to Dreamland focuses on the avant-garde, with brief forays into song structure. The poppiest must be Saboten ("Low Chair"), a quartet of young Tokyo women with a fragmented, naive approach to song construction and an art school bent in the lyrics. The group After Dinner, fronted by vocalist Haco, managed to swing a few Western releases with Recommended Records a year later. Their song "The Room of Hair Mobiles" is typical of their dreamy work. Luna Park Ensemble (not to be confused with the group Luna or Luna Park) strike a bizarre cabaret pose, while Sodaneva's muted, rhythmic guitar passages are sublime. Only Keiji Haino went on after this initial bit of exposure (and he had been around a long time before this anyway) to continually make recordings. Still, an intriguing snapshot of Tokyo and Osaka, and of Frith's taste in music." (Ted Mills, All Music Guide)
A1. Fake - Dig A2. Saboten - Low chair A3. Luna Park Ensemble - Scramble Suite A4. Akira/Seiji- Timon's Navel A5. Katra Turana - Yatara-Chan's Annoying Noise A6. Sodaneva - 42 B1. The Honeymoons - The Formula of Silence B2. The Polka Dot Fire Brigade - The Moon Which Lies B3. After Dinner - The Room of Hair Mobiles B4. Ken-ichi Takeda - Dumb Like a Fox B5. Keiji Haino - As It Is, I Will Never Let It End B6. A-Musik - The Black International B7. Chie Mukai - Wandering Hindu B8. Che-Shizu - Festival Song