Hi! I'm Nicholas D. Kent. I'm a part time film composer who uses synths and electronic sounds. I'm based in New York. I've been collecting synthesizer music by Japanese artists since around 1982. I thought making a list of the albums I know about or own would be informative.
My number one aim is to describe the albums. This often winds up being a bit of a review and in that respect is biased by the kind of music I like. I'm attempting to keep the emphasis on a discription of the music on each album.
While a straight discography with track listings and times is facinating for dedicated collectors of a specific artist, a discography is pretty dry reading and near meaningless if you are unfamiliar with the artist. (well here's 30 albums listed now which ones should I make an effort to get??)
I've included any albums I know exist but do not have. They marked with a (*). This allows my pages to function as a discography. Also i don't own every :-) album so some that belonged to friends that I've listened to have a (@) to point out that here is an album that I know about but don't have in my collection.
Assume all albums are Japanese pressings unless I add a country name next to it. Since I bought these albums over many years I'm sure some are out of print and many more have had their catalog numbers changed. I try to give any other numbers I know and if I'm pretty sure there was never a CD or no longer one in shops.
A confusing practice that many Japanese labels use is to print re-issue dates on CDs instead of the original date the album was released. Of course that makes it tough to put the albums in chronological order and confuses some people into thinking they are buying recent works. I have tried to include the original date on albums which were later re-issued. I've tried to list albums in chronological order. I've tried to list "best of albums" around when the newest piece contained was recorded even if it came out later.
If you catch some errors or omissions you think belong on the pages, please type them out and I'll try to edit them in. You'll get a "thanks" posted too. Some of this info came from the YMO mailing list or another web page. If I missed to credit info I obviously obtained from the net, let me know and I'll credit it.
I would be happy to talk to anyone who collects this kind of material. I would be happy to get any info on reliable sources of this kind of music. I certainly would be happy to get review copies.
Actually going to Japan or having someone in Japan send CDs back to you is the only really good way. Watch out that if you have them mailed they are sent by some trackable method of delivery. My theory is if it is being tracked then it is less likely to be "lost".
Just a reminder (if you don't know), Japanese CDs cost US$25 to $30 in Japan. By the time the importer gets it to you it may be over $50.
Why so expensive in Japan? Reason 1: the yen rose substantially against other currencies some years back. It went down in value substantially late summer '98, but then rebounded to a point only slightly less high valued then before. Interestingly in Japan CDs now cost the same as LPs used to back in the 80s (in yen), something that has not happened in the USA. Reason 2 The music companies say they need the high prices to maintain the wide selection of new releases and develop domestic artists. On the up side, many older CDs are now budget priced or mid-line priced (around $14 to $20). For example much of Hosono's back catalog recently became quite affordable.
Japanese bookstores around the world that stock CDs can special order them. They may have a listing of catalog #s. If not you should supply one. I am told it's real tough to just order a CD by name.
Tower Records (in the U.S.) can get Japanese imports at very low prices if they feel like it. They usually don't. I have to explore the situation. Unlike HMV and Virgin, Tower sells their imports at very reasonable prices. Tower has something on-line in Japan, I've not used it or even know if other labels besides their own label (Bounce) are available.
I've used these online places:
cdnow.com --responded promptly that they couldn't get anything I tried to order. .
cdeurope.com --gets about half or less of what I order, some of it I'm sure wasn't out of print. Consistantly makes mistakes and forgets CDs. They do correct things very quickly. I will not give them a "thumbs down" since they always correct things fast and bill correctly. Why they have so many problems is a mystery.
cdbanzai.com -the best online service I used. Reasonably fast. The only down side is they seem to have no structure for figuring out if something is out of print or not. Where as the other two will just say "can't get it", cdbanzai will keep re-ordering it until it comes. On the good side, doing that shows extra effort and may be exactly what you want, on the down side it keeps you from trying to buy it elsewhere. I think I got everything I ordered except something that was actually out of print.
Comfort. They will ship albums by mail. Its a CD shop in Kyoto. I have not tried them yet, but the owner (Shinichi Ohkura) has seen this page. Many of my net friends have been very happy with having Comfort ship them the albums they ordered.
I know of a few other good leads, friends have used ab-cd with sucess, but I am wary to mention places I've not dealt with. The above online places I have ordered from but do not necessarily endorse, so please don't blame me if you run into a problem.
dip in the pool
Plastics + member projects
P-Model + Hirasawa, Susumu
Sakamoto, Ryuichi --solo albums
Sakamoto, Ryuichi --collaborations and best of albums
Sakamoto, Ryuichi --live albums
Sandii and the Sunsetz
Sheena & The Rokkets
Togawa, Jun / Yapoos / Guernica
YMO studio and live
YMO compilation and remix
more graphics soon!
¥EN Records page
UNSOUND (various music and visual artists)
Bonsai's J-Pop Pages - all sorts of music and entertainment links
Tokyo Record Stores -aimed at English speaking people looking for imports in Tokyo. None the less a fine guide. of Tokyo record shops in English.
Tokion Magazine the magazine has many interviews with interesting artists
Techno-Electro-Synth Pop Academy lots of info pages on many artists
Music Web-0-Rama- what this page is sitting on. !
Artskool, the band who did the overall Music Web-O-Rama
Ashera is an Australian ambient act worth checking out.
Secret Service / Secret Secret web
Frederic Rossille is a French composer greatly inspired by some of the artists mentioned here.
more artist specific links with the individual artists.
Ron Kane helped provide information for these pages. He is an album collector and a writer. He can be reached at email@example.com to discuss Japanese Music.