052 - Yakenohara [Unknown Me]

I recently stumbled across the wonderful Japanese collective ‘Unknown Me’ and their blissful cassette releases 'Subtropics' and 'Sunday Void'. The group have a distinct and effective formula, matching clean, looping melodies with drifting, celestial ambient tones, that cut straight to the pleasure centres of your brain. It's immediately gratifying and accessible and that is very much their strength, making both beautiful and approachable electronic music.

Representing the group for this brand new Métron mixtape is Yakenohara, the performing alias of Taro Nohara whose extensive and varied resumé includes a rap album, hundreds of remixes, an official CD mixtape for legendary hip-hop label Stones Throw records, and even supporting slots for massive international artists like Thundercat and Georgio Moroder touring in his native Japan.

This mixtape though, recorded live in Japan, and is a celebration of ambient and new age music spanning many decades, stretching across continents and showcasing his rich understanding of music past and present. Working with multiple inputs (2 turntables and 3 CDJs) Yakenohara describes his mix building technique, where at any one time there may be five different pieces playing in unison, as 'freeform ambient collage'. It’s hard not to be moved by the shear weight of beatific sounds and luscious sonic matter that radiate across this meditative hour long mix. Each new piece seamlessly blooming out atop it’s predecessors, it’s a serene celestial adventure that flows like gravitational waves through the vast cosmic planes of time and space. With this kind of inspiration it's little wonder that together with his friends, Yakenohara and Unknown Me produce some of the most pleasingly blissful sounds available to your ears.

I spoke briefly with Yakenohara about his mix and his Unknown Me project - his English, whilst far better than my Japanese, is limited - but it was great to get some brief words from the artist nonetheless. You can also find a tracklist at the bottom of the page.

Thanks so much for your mixtape - can you tell us a little about the selections you made?It is a live mix when I appeared I performed for Dommune in Japan. I will not decide what song to play before hand, and I put the sound on the feeling of the place. I use two turntables and three CDJs. When there are many, five sounds are played at the same time.

You are a part of the wonderful project Unknown Me, how did you guys meet and start making music together?"UNKNOWN ME" was a story that I am going to make nature together with ambient-loving members who happen to live in the neighbourhood, such as old-time DJ friends, friends of friends, and so on.

How do you find new music to listen to?It is digging in the Internet, being recommended by a record store of acquaintance, exchanging information with friends, and so on.

What are your plans for 2018?
Make music. learn. have fun.

Can you tell us a few Japanese based artists or records we should check out?At this time I like a percussionist called "Yas-Kaz".

01. Beverly Glenn-Copeland - Ever New (1986)
02. ind_fris - Floating ships on this planet (2017)
03. Aquarium - Floating (2016)
04. Vangelis Katsoulis - All The Blue (2017)
05. Planetary Peace - Song Without Warning (1983)
06. Joan Bibiloni - Una Vida Llarga I Tranquila II (1984)
07. Joe Hisaishi - Contact With The Ohmu (1984)
08. Tagomago - Boiled Egg (1995)
09. Mark Isham - Raffles in Rio (1983)
10. Tatsuhiko Asano - Pirouette (1996)
11. Manuel Gottsching - Dream (1991)
12. Pascaal - ЛН (2017)
13. Finis Africae - El Secreto De Las 12 (1984)
14. Jean-Joel Barbier - 3 gnossiennes (1984)
15. Jon Gibson - Relative Calm: III. Extensions RC "Reach" (1981)
16. Cass - Atlon (2015)
17. Hiroshi Yoshimura ?? Dance PM (1982)

Words, images & interview by Jack Hardwicke.

Métron Records 2018. Hampshire, UK.