Former member of Japanese folk band Itsutsu No Akai Fuusen (5 Red Balloons), this was Takashi Nishioka's first solo album from 1973, some lovely tunes with psychedelic touches and a couple of minimal home recordings.
Review from Othermusic.com: Takashi Nishioka's Manin No Ki is surely one of the finest psych-folk singer-songwriter albums I've heard; if it weren't for the fact that it's sung in Japanese it'd probably already be in your collection. Nishioka has had a long and artistically successful and varied career of enough stature that he's been afforded a five-CD box set in Japan. He first came to public attention in the '60s as a member of Five Red Balloons, a group whose music was indebted in great part to the folk revival taking place in America at the time. Where his career really begins to interest us, however, is around 1970, when he was the nominal leader and songwriter of Tokedashita Garasubako (Melting Glass Box), whose members included notable musicians from Apryl Fool and the Jacks. They made one extraordinary and essential album of dreamy and avant-garde psych-folk that stands on par with any thing else of the era. Unfortunately, that CD is long out of print and vinyl copies sell for exorbitant amounts of money, but they do have a fine song included on the Japanese installment of the Love, Peace and Poetry series. After Tokedashita Garasubako dissolved, Nishioka began work on his first solo LP for URC (Underground Record Club), a label that had been started to document the intriguing folk and pop music that was being made in Japan's early-'70s counter-culture, a good portion of their catalog has been reissued and is well worth tracking down. Manin No Ki is far less amorphous than Tokedashita Garasubako, it begins on a foreign sounding note with a short ditty laden with ethnic string instruments and rattling wood blocks. It's probably the weirdest piece on the album and it barely hints at the songwriting to follow.
Nishioka is a master of the lilting melody and he specializes in those mid-tempo ballads that characterize many of Neil Young's greatest moments. Not that Nishioka just sounds like a Japanese Neil Young, far from it. His writing includes space for complex vocal overdubs and he uses a diverse array of instrumental shading, including marimba and xylophone sounds that would make Tom Waits jealous, and whoever engineered his drums is a complete genius. But now I'm starting to come across like a real nerd, because truly the main strength of the album is simply Nishioka's moving songwriting, that the sounds surrounding his songs are interesting only adds to the appeal. Manin No Ki is the album I've listened to the most this year by far and it won't fail to make it to my top ten. [MK]
1. Osaka-ben 2. Manin No Ki 3. Hitori No Onna 4. Owari No Sasetsu 5. Miren 6. Professional Ji-Ji 7. Kimi To Boku, Boku To Kimi 8. Dousei 9. Tsuma Ni Naru Onna Ni 10, Minna Ii Hito