Various - Longing for the Shadow: Ryukoka Recordings, 1921-1939 LP
Label: Death Is Not The End
Emerging during the early stages of the recording industry in Japan, the ryūkōka style adopted western classical, blues & jazz elements into traditional and classical Japanese music.
This collection of 1920s & 30s ryūkōka recordings follows on from the Kouta Katsutaro tape we put out a couple of years back, and further captures the hauntingly unique sound of a cultural merging that was starting to reflect itself via popular song, ahead of the widespread influence of western pop music during post-war US occupation.
"Death Is Not The End are on a mission to expand the musical archive, with compilations of everything from Jamaican doo wop to pirate radio idents and adverts weaving new threads into the history of music. Longing For The Shadow: Ryūkōka Recordings, 1921-1939 goes back to the beginnings of the recording industry in Japan, and a style merging traditional Japanese forms with western pop and classical. Swooning orchestrations and prominent vocals capture some of the melodrama and bombast found in US and European music of the time, but beds of plucked and strummed instruments give an ordered elegance, tying it firmly to Hogaku tradition. Not much has been written about Ryūkōka, and a 2017 book by Hiromu Nagahara gives some clue as to why, arguing that although popular with the public, it was dismissed by critics both for its adoption of western sounds and its dwelling on Japanese traditional styles. Close to a century later, those are some of the qualities that make this compilation so fascinating." - The Quietus