This early 70's psychedelic Japanese quartet were more or less the precursors of The FAR EAST FAMILY BAND (see this band's biography), guitarist/vocalist Fumio Miyashita being the only link between the two. Miyashita would later join other musicians on FEFB which included among their ranks Masanori Takahashi, better known as "Kitaro". Under the name FAR OUT, they released one album in 1973.
Although « Nipponjin » is definitely a spacey album, the keyboards are only prominent on the opening notes and the synths are used sparingly throughout, for the occasional sound effect. The psychedelic atmosphere comes mostly from the guitars, electric sitar and drums, resulting in a sound somewhat reminiscent of PINK FLOYD's "A Saucerful of Secrets". The original LP, replete with weird sound effects, consisted of two epic tracks clocking in at 18 and 20 minutes respectively. The 7 bonus tracks of the CD edition are actually taken from The FAR EAST FAMILY BAND's first album "The Cave Down to the Earth" and feature some Japanese vocals that turn out in English on "The Cave" album. These tracks also lack the spacey synths of the latter.
Far East Family Band biography
This is a legendary Japanese band, the first line-up included the known synthesizer player KITARO. The FAR EAST FAMILY BAND released a lot of records in the Seventies and Eighties, they sound quite unique (an Eastern sound) with echoes from PINK FLOYD.
The first album "The Cave Down To Earth" from '74 is mostly recommended, it has a spacey and slight psychdelic sound (like early PINK FLOYD) and contains ethnic elements which gives the music an original twist. Another fine album is "Nipponjin" ('75) with a keyboard version of FAR OUT's "Nihonjin" (FAR OUT was the precursor of FEFB). It's in the vein of the debut-album, the climates ranges from bombastic to more mellow. The album "Parallel World" was produced by the famous electronic pioneer KLAUS SCHULZE.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kitaro moved to Tokyo to experience and become a part of the music scene, and it was there that he discovered the synthesizer. His first synthesizer was analog, and he recalls having “just loved the analog sound that it made compared to today's digital sound”.
His parents were first opposed to the idea of their son having a musical career. Indeed, in an effort to maneuver him towards their vision, they made arrangements for him to take a job at a local company. In return, he left home without telling them. He supported himself by taking on several part time jobs such as cooking and civil service work, while composing songs at night.
In the early 1970s, he changed completely to keyboards. He joined the band "Far East Family Band" and toured with them around the world. In Europe, he met the German synthesizer musician and former Tangerine Dream member Klaus Schulze. Schulze produced two albums for the band and gave Kitaro some tips for the use of synthesizers. In 1976, Kitaro left "Far East Family Band" and travelled through Asia (China, Laos, Thailand, India).
Personal lifeFrom 1983 until 1990 Kitaro was married to Yuki Taoka. Yuki is a daughter of Kazuo Taoka, godfather of Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest Yakuza syndicate. Kitaro and Yuki had a son, Ryunosuke, who lives in Japan. They reportedly separated because Kitaro worked mostly in the United States while Yuki lived and worked in Japan. In the mid-1990s, Kitaro married Keiko Matsubara, a musician who played on several of his albums. Along with Keiko's son, the couple lived in Ward, Colorado on a 180 acre (72.85 hectare) spread and composed in his 2500 square foot (230 m²) home studio "Mochi House" (it is large enough to hold a 70 piece orchestra). Kitaro and Keiko recently relocated to Sebastopol, California.
In 1989, he wrote the "Japanese" Theme for the film "Return From The River Kwai".
He has worked with guitarist Marty Friedman, formerly of Megadeth, on the "Scenes" album. He has also worked with Hong Kong Cantopop singer Anita Mui on the song "Years Flowing Like Water" "似水流年".
He's universally acknowledged as the founding architect of new age music. Kitaro's various sound collaborations and resonant, multi-textured compositions truly defy the constraints of any genre. The Grammy and Golden Globe Award-Winning Kitaro has achieved global acclaim over a more than three decade long career with a signature sound and a pioneering fusion of cultures, techniques and spheres of consciousness that are truly his own.
Kitaro's latest project, Impressions of the West Lake is a modern day opera conceived and directed by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower), the visionary artist behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The production is highlighted by music composed by Kitaro.
Perhaps the single most significant collaboration on Impressions of the West Lake is between Zhang and the opera's composer, Kitaro. This pairing of East-meets-East is a rare combination of two artists at the peak of their creative talents. The opera also marks a reunion for Kitaro and music arranger Randy Miller, the pair's first effort together since the Golden Globe-winning soundtrack to Oliver Stone's 1993 film Heaven and Earth. This opera is another impressive credit for Miller, whose lengthy career as a composer, orchestrator, and conductor for films includes such highlights as Without Limits, First Snow, and The Soong Sisters (Best Original Score, Hong Kong Film Award).
Impressions of the West Lake represents the latest artistic success in the long, storied career of Kitaro. As a Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning artist, this incredibly prolific composer and performer has continued his reign in the international spotlight and at the forefront of musical innovation ever since the release of his debut solo album, Astral Voyage, in 1978. His numerous recording highlights include 1986's Tenku (his U.S. debut), 1987's The Light of the Spirit (a collaboration with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Kitaro's American breakthrough), as well as Sacred Journey of Ku-kai, a multi-volume series of albums inspired by the tragedy of 9/11.
On his Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai, Volume 3, Kitaro garnered a Grammy nomination in the New Age category, Kitaro's 13th Grammy nomination to date. This album, was the third in a series of a collection of works and peace-themed albums (Vol. 1 released in 2003; Vol. 2 in 2005) and like the others, is inspired by the classic Buddhist pilgrimage to the 88 sacred temples on Japan's remote Shikoku Island. A journey taken by the beloved Buddhist monk Ku-kai over a millennium ago, through the music contained in Sacred Journey of KuKai III, Kitaro continues to explore uncharted waters with his magnificently expansive vision and ever-questing spirit. He embarked on his Peace and Love World Tour in the fall of that year, a tour that took Kitaro to the four corners of the globe, shining the spotlight of his musical message on audiences as he inspires fans from around the globe to unite as one. Grammy Award aficionados, Domo Records and especially Kitaro were excited about his Grammy nomination in the Best New Age Album category for Sacred Journey of Ku-kai, Volume 2 which also garnered a nomination in category 44 for the 48th Annual Grammy Awards. It was Kitaro's 12th Grammy nomination. With Sacred Journey Of Ku-kai Volume 2, the artist's lifelong vision coalesced into an elegant and wondrously integrated master work. It offers a beautifully expressed and richly resonant experience through which to contemplate our changing world.
In 2000, Kitaro's "Thinking Of You", which online music bible allmusic.com calls "one of the most beautiful CDs of all time," won a GRAMMY for Best New Age Album. Kitaro's atmospheric, powerfully emotive, and multi-textured music truly defies the constraints of any genre, epitomizing what Domo Records founder Eiichi Naito identifies as the label's guiding principle---"To provide a home for both the creators and aficionados of quality music beyond the borders of categorization." Most fundamentally, at its heart, Kitaro's music is always about sending a profound message of peace and spiritual development, both personally and globally.
For over a quarter century, Kitaro has been an internationally recognized icon and globally acclaimed composer and musician. Influenced early on by American rock and R&B, Kitaro began experimenting with synthesizers and a rainbow of unconventional sounds in the mid-'70s. His pioneering fusion of electronic artistry, traditional Japanese forms, and pop-inflected Western idioms created a lush, harmonic, and poetic sound that won the now legendary artist a huge international following. 1980's Volume 1 in the revered Silk Road series is considered an all-time masterpiece, with subsequent volumes only adding to its luster. '87's GRAMMY-nominated The Light Of The Spirit, a collaboration with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, exceeded sales of two million in the U.S. alone, elevating Kitaro's presence stateside to an unprecedented degree. 1992's transcendent Dream, made with Yes' Jon Anderson, was also a smash, and other highlights are too numerous to single out. Through the course of his career, Kitaro has sold millions of albums, CD's and DVD's worldwide. Kitaro's various sound collaborations and resonant, multi-textured compositions, with their crescendos of passion and oases of serenity, truly defy the constraints of any genre. His pioneering fusion of cultures, techniques and spheres of consciousness is truly his own. With Impressions of the West Lake, Kitaro continues to explore new, uncharted terrain with his magnificently expansive vision and ever-questing spirit.
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