Ongaku Zukan

Ongaku Zukan

Wewantsounds is delighted to announce the release of Ryuichi Sakamoto's classic LP Ongaku Zukan, originally issued in Japan on his own School label in 1984. 

Artist: Ryuichi Sakamoto

Genre: Japanese Jazz

Label: Wewantsounds

Release date:


The reissue replicates the original Japanese release which offered two versions: a normal edition featuring the LP with a bonus 2-track 7" EP, and a limited edition which includes a 3-track 12" EP in place of the 7". Remastered by Saidera Mastering in Tokyo the reissue boasts the original gatefold artwork plus an extra 2-page insert with new liner notes by Andy Beta.

The early ‘80s were a turning point for Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. As a solo artist, the smash hit soundtrack he had composed for 1983’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (a film in which he had also acted), had put him on the verge of becoming a global superstar. Meanwhile he had called a halt to his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra; the influential, globally successful pop trio calling it quits after the release of their 1983 album Naughty Boys.

Against this backdrop, Sakamoto descended on Tokyo’s Onkyo Haus Studio to record his fourth solo album, Ongaku Zukan ("Musical Encyclopedia”) accompanied by a handful of musicians including his ex-YMO partners Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, and the prolifically talented Yasuaki Shimizu, Tatsuro Yamashita and Toshinori Kondo. Sakamoto began with no particular plan in mind, recording 30 basic tracks over the best part of 1983. It was on his return to the studio the following year that the album truly began to take shape. Accompanied by a newly acquired Fairlight CMI sampler, the musician made extensive use of the revolutionary equipment to create a wide palette of sound textures which he added to the tracks, a creatively fertile process that was captured on film for the French documentary "Tokyo Melody, A Film about Ryuichi Sakamoto”.) ​

Released in August 1984 the album Ongaku Zukan proved a huge success, providing Sakamoto with his first top 5 hit in Japan. Filled with inspired melodies that showcase his unique gift as a composer, it offers up a fascinating mix of styles. Asiatic electro pop nuggets ("Tibetan Dance") share space with futuristic ambient pieces ("Hane no Hayashi de"), and brilliantly creative fusions of jazz, funk, techno and reggae (“Etude" and "Tabi no Kyokuhoki.”)

Two simultaneous editions of the album were released in Japan: the regular one featuring a bonus 7" EP with two extra tracks: "Replica" and "Ma Mère l’Oye” while a limited edition added a 12" EP (in lieu of the 7") which included a third track, "Tibetan Dance (Version)." An international version was released two years later in 1986 by 10 Records/Virgin under the title Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia, but with a very different track list. Five tracks from Ongaku Zukan were dropped, namely "Self Portrait," "Tabi no kyokuhoku," "Mori no Hito," "A Tribute to N.J.P" and "Tibetan Dance (Version)", to be replaced by two non-album singles from 1985, "Stepping Into Asia" and "Field Work." ​ This is the very first time that the two 1984 Japanese editions of Ryuichi Sakamoto's classic album have been released internationally in collaboration with the artist's management and Midi Inc., with remastered audio and the original artwork faithfully reproduced, paying tribute to one of contemporary music's undisputed geniuses.

About the artist

Ryuichi Sakamoto was a Japanese composer, pianist, record producer, and actor who pursued a diverse range of styles as a solo artist and as a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra. With his bandmates Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, Sakamoto influenced and pioneered a number of electronic music genres.

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