World Music Fans Will Appreciate WMN’s Musical Trip To Japan

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network’s forthcoming compilation record The Rough Guide to Avant-Garde Japan is the first great new World Music compilation of 2021.  It is also another interesting addition to the label’s ongoing Rough Guide To… series.  That is proven in part through its featured songs.  The sequencing of that content adds its own touch of appeal to the record and will be addressed a little later.  The booklet that accompanies the recording rounds out its most important elements.  It brings everything full circle.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered, they make the record in whole unique new entry to WMN’s ever-growing series of compilations that will appeal to most World Music fans.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its ongoing series of The Rough Guide To… is easily one of the most unique entries in the ever-growing series to date.  It is a collection of songs that takes listeners beyond the barriers of the typical music that they think of when they think of music from the “Far East.”  Case in point is the subtle ‘Daidai.’  Roughly translated, the title means ‘From Generation to Generation.’  It makes sense, too.  That is because it incorporates traditional Japanese instrumentation alongside some modern electronic effects for a unique whole that would make Trent Reznor proud.  Composed by the Japanese act Ken Sugai, that melding of modern and classical elements really is its own representation of generations passing yet joining as one.  It stands out as one of the record’s peaks.  On yet another note, EMiKO VOiCE’s gentle flowing ‘Sanosa’ boasts more of a modern jazz sensibility than anything Asian or even specifically Japanese, save for the song’s lyrics, which are sung wholly in Japanese.  Other than that one element, this composition could easily be likened to works from any modern American jazz act out there today.  What is even more interesting about the song is that the gentle use of the brushes against the snare alongside the bass, piano, and vocals gives the song thoughts of the smoky jazz clubs of the 1930s and 40s.  It is such an enjoyable presentation that will appeal not only to people who have love for all things Japan, but for all things jazz.  Add in the fact that it is such a starkly different work from the likes of ‘Daidai’ and the importance of the songs becomes even clearer.  That variety –even on that micro level — shows in its own way how much the compilation has to offer audiences in regards to the record’s musical presentation.  On yet another note (no pun intended) ‘Akkan’ proves just as sharply opposite ‘Sanosa’ and ‘Daidai’ as they are from one another and from the rest of the album’s entries.  At one point, the use of the strings lends itself to thoughts of the gypsy style music of Eastern Europe.  As the song progresses, the addition of the horns gives the song a more modern and truly avant-garde sensibility.  The hip-hop beat that is added on top of everything here makes for even more interest.  The result is a song that stands out just as much from the songs noted here as they do from it and the rest of the album’s entries.  It shows yet again, the diversity of the music in this recording.  That diversity is important to note because it serves to show how much Japan’s culture has grown and changed throughout its history.  Now in the 21st Century, it shows that despite the change in time, there is still a link to and respect for the roots of the nation’s music and culture even as the nation’s culture, including its music has evolved.  This in itself makes for more than enough reason for audiences to hear this compilation.

While the diversity in the musical arrangements featured in The Rough Guide to Avant-Garde Japan creates a strong foundation for the record, the sequencing of those songs adds its own share of engagement and entertainment.  It has already been noted that the arrangements are starkly unlike one another from one to the next.  That those behind the compilation’s sequencing clearly put so much thought and time into that diversity makes for even more appeal.  The changes in the songs’ stylistic approaches and moods are constant from start to end of the 75-minute presentation.  At no point do things ever get monotonous or boring as a result of the nonstop changes.  The picture that the sequencing paints here is one that is so fully immersive.  When this is considered along with the very diversity in the arrangements, the compilation becomes that much more appealing.  Those items are just a portion of what makes the compilation appealing.  The companion booklet that comes with the record has its own value.

The booklet that accompanies The Rough Guide to Avante-Garde Jazz is important because its information really serves to set the stage for the presentation contained on the record’s disc.  The booklet’s liner notes open by stating the irony in the contrast of Japan’s very structured culture and the free expression presented through the music in this collection.  It is a true, powerful statement.  As the notes continue, statements are made about the stylistic approaches taken by some of the record’s featured artists.  Those brief but concise discussions make for their own share of appreciation for the works.  That is because it sort of takes listeners behind the scenes so to speak in the songs’ creation.  That background, while brief, is still its own strong addition to the compilation’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the record’s songs and their sequencing, the whole makes the record overall a presentation that any World Music aficionado will agree is well worth hearing at least once if not more.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its ever-growing The Rough Guide To… series, The Rough Guide to Avant-Garde Japan is a good start to the year for the label and its series of compilations.  As noted, that is due in part to the songs that make up the album’s body.  They show the connection to Japan’s past while also reaching to the nation’s future.  The sequencing of those songs makes for even more appeal.  That is because it ensures there is not one mundane moment in this record.  The background information provided in the compilation’s companion booklet puts the finishing touch to the compilation’s presentation.  Each item noted here does its own share to make this presentation interesting for listeners.  All things considered,  they make the record in whole, a presentation that any World Music fan will find worth hearing.  The record is scheduled for release Friday.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:




To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.