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Artist: OHNO, MATSUO
Title: Choju Gigaku (Play On Animals)
Format: 7"
Label: EM
Country: Japan
Price: $17.00
"Em Records presents a slice of lost history unearthed for your enjoyment and delight. A first-ever reissue, on limited edition 7" vinyl of Choju Gigaku (Play On Animals), an ultra-rare 33rpm 7" flexi-disc by esteemed sound designer Matsuo Ohno, the legend behind the soundtracks for anime classics Astro Boy (1963-1966), Submarine Cassiopeia (1964) and Space Battleship Yamato (1974-1975). The original flexi-disc was released as a souvenir during the famed World Expo 70 in Osaka (think Stockhausen and Xenakis), but was available for only a brief time and soon disappeared, an object of rumor and mystery for collectors. As befitting Expo 70s remit as a meeting of world cultures, Ohno chose 6 well-loved Japanese and international songs -- and rendered them entirely in animal and bird sounds, using analog tape recordings. Choju Gigaku contains equal measures of musicality, magic, madness and mayhem, with domestic and barnyard animals combining their natural and pitch-shifted voices with the calls and cries of a multitude of birds. Eschewing musical instruments, Ohno utlized Japans first variable-speed tape recorder to create these melodies, adding delay and reverb to the warm analog mix. The five songs on Choju Gigaku are "Sekaino Kunikara Konnichiwa," the theme song for Expo 70 originally sung by Haruo Minami, the Japanese traditional songs "Sakura Sakura" and "Yagi Bushi," an Italian song "Funiculi, Funicula," the Russian "Volga Boatman" and an American classic "Oh My Darling, Clementine." Recording in Sogosha studios (his production company) in Aoyama, Ohno was ably assisted by avant-garde composer/musician Takehisa Kosugi (Taj Mahal Travellers, Merce Cunningham and many others), who was an integral part of the recording process. Housed in a full reproduction of the original triple gatefold sleeve with liner notes newly written by Matsuo Ohno (in 2011)." -EM.
SOLD OUT

Artist: OHNO, MATSUO
Title: I Saw The Outer Limits
Format: LP
Label: EM
Country: Japan
Price: $25.00
""I am not interested in sounds that already exist." Thus spoke the esteemed "Onkyo designer" Matsuo Ohno, early in his expansive, influential career. This reissue of his stellar 1978 LP I Saw The Outer Limits presents him at the peak of his powers, combining his mastery of classic analog tape music techniques (honed to perfection while providing sound design for Astro Boy and numerous other films and TV programs) with then-state-of-the-art analog synthesizers. This is a true under-recognized classic, a masterfully recorded, massive-sounding poetic construction of unearthly sound -- an undulating, breathing behemoth, with Ohnos galaxy moving beyond "sounds that already exist" in search of new sonic spaces. Liner notes and biography in Japanese with an English translation. Original LP artwork with hologram-coated sleeve. Limited edition." - EM.
SOLD OUT

Artist: OHNO, MATSUO
Title: I Saw The Outer Limits
Format: Double CD
Label: EM
Country: Japan
Price: $29.00
"Mind-stretching analog synth wizardry from the legendary Matsuo Ohno, sound designer for Astro Boy and many other Japanese films and TV programs. His first non-soundtrack release, from 1978, is a massive, undulating galaxy re-released here on CD with a bonus mini-CD reissue of a rare 1970 flexi-disc Play On Animals, rated as one of 2011s top releases by Byron Coley of The Wire. This reissue of his stellar 1978 LP I Saw The Outer Limits presents him at the peak of his powers, combining his mastery of classic analog tape music techniques with then-state-of-the-art analog synthesizers. This is a true under-recognized classic, a masterfully recorded, massive-sounding poetic construction of unearthly sound, a breathing behemoth, with Ohnos galaxy moving beyond "sounds that already exist" in search of new sonic spaces. Matsuo Ohno was born in Kanda, in central Tokyo, in 1930. The relentless bombing onslaught of the war years, the near-apocalyptic conditions, were defining, formative forces. As a youth he was interested in Surrealism and philosophy, and was uninfluenced by music and musicians -- an exception being the electronic works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Other early influences were the film director Fumio Kamei and the dramatist Michio Kato; rather than viewing himself as a musician, and never studying under any masters, Ohno forged his own path as the original "onkyo sound" artist, defining himself as an "onkyo designer" in the 1960s. His innate independent streak manifested itself early on, when, chafing under creative restrictions, Ohno left a prestigious post at NHK, Japans national broadcaster. But of course, his skills were in high demand and he was extremely busy as a freelance sound designer for a wide range of films, television shows and radio programs, developing his ear and his technical savvy. In 1963 he began his most famed efforts, providing sound design for the legendary Japanese animation series Astro Boy, with Takehisa Kosugi as his assistant. I Saw The Outer Limits was the first full-length non-soundtrack release by Matsuo Ohno. The record was a huge step for him, being non-programmatic music, designed to stand alone, free of visual imagery. Ohno himself has stated that he was uninterested in notions of message, expression and representation. Shinji Hinoki, a producer at Toho Records, approached Ohno with the offer of releasing an album; Hinoki perhaps envisioned something to cash in on the popularity of the synth-driven elements of Pink Floyd -- what he got was something much more abstract and otherworldly. Hinoki supplied both title and subtitle, including the latters variant spelling of "marijuana," a ploy to evade Japanese censors. On these recordings, made at Sogosha in Tokyo, his private studio, Ohno used the EMS Synthi AKS, which at that time in Japan carried a price close to that of a family car, the newly-released Roland System 100 (three of these, in fact), and a custom-made synth. He combined these synthesizers with his virtuosic control of analog tape recording techniques, resulting in a magnificent LP. The original vinyl release was, however, somewhat marred by 50 Hz hum generated during the mastering process at Toho Studios. This EM CD reissue restores the masterpiece to its primal, clear, massive glory. Housed in a foldout thick paper sleeve. Liner notes and biography in Japanese with an English translation. The bonus disc is pressed on a mini-CD (8cm) and packed in a triple foldout sleeve, in the same style as the original 1970 issue, and is inserted in the EM 1098CD sleeve." -EM

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