I have long had a soft spot for Japan, the country in general to be fair but particularly its music, the awesome Noble label has in more recent times been a favourite of mine with its lush, near perfect releases.
However, my heart was originally won over courtesy of the excellent Geographic Label, an offshoot of the also excellent (at least it used to be) label, Domino, run by Stephen Pastel of all people. Here i was introduced to array of great artists, not least Nagisa Ni Te and the wonderfully ramshackle and always delightful Maher Shalal Hash Baz who have intriguingly just released a 177, yes one hundred and seventy seven track double album entitled C'est La Dernière Chanson. To be honest i'd recommend you try one of their other releases and leave this for the completists, many songs are barely more than a lick and each track seems to have about ten seconds of silence in between, which is normally longer than the actual music on offer. When they do extend past the 30 second mark though, they are normally memorable. If nothing else it serves as a reminder of what a great and intrigueing little band Maher Shalal Hash Baz are.
It seems forever since Geographic released anything, as previously mentioned they were a fantastic label and it turns out that they still are as they return to the scene courtesy of a magical collaboration between The Pastels and Japanese band Tenniscoats. It carries a kind of liquid magic and is fast becoming a contendor for album of the year for me. Just lovely lovely music, exactly the kind of thing i'd expect from the label. Tenniscoats gentle music is the perfect compliment for Stephen Pastels somewhat individual vocals. The contrast of voices on Song For a Friend is just sublime. Lovely stuff.
Pastels / Tenniscoats - About You mp3
Source: The Tape is not Sticky
In no way connected to the label or even the bands mentioned, but equally Japanese and equally magical are ASA-CHANG & 巡礼, probably best known for their near perfect track Hana. On latest release 影の無いヒト, of which i can find no real information, they excel again, more chopped up vocals that form the beats, alongside a two or three songs that recall the loveliness of Nagisa Ni Te and Tenniscoats.
Asa Chang & Junray - Hana mp3
Source: Diary of a Space Traveller