on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2021 9 Sep

Open letter to Jan Bang

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 3 Comments

I‘m leaving, heading south.

This is an open letter to you, dear Jan! And nothing to worry about, haha. Since I know it belongs to your morning rituals to look at manafonistas, I thought this to be a good idea and take you by surprise. Thousands are reading this now – my friend in Northern California, an old buddy in Würzburg, even some wonderful people near your hometown I met this year at PUNKT …

Now, I don‘t know what the others will write within the next weeks, they might supply you with some worthy stories and informations, but in many cases you have to use the translation magic of Deepl (that made it, for instance, possible, that I could translate the forthcoming PUNKT 2021 review by our Italian friend Damir Ivic for the Italian ROLLING STONE).

I do write that cause I will be absent for a while on a „psychedelic retreat“ in the Black Forest, with a good quantum of shamanism, meditation and other stuff of making you fly and high and dance,  without mobile phones, Ipads, internet. But with On Land, The Survivors‘ Suite, and Rock Bottom. Three secret horizons. In fact I‘ll be lost in the woods on a quite adventurous trip. A different kind of journey, to quote the subtitle of Eivind Aarset’s fantastic new album. Hopefully a happy return on September 29.





So, Jan, on its way to Kristiansand soon, via Christoph Giese’s special parcel service, two vinyls, and one comes from my archive. When that album was reissued not long ago, after decades,  I got two items by error, from this long lost treasure – and after our recent talk about early encounters of David Sylvian with Jon Hassell and Ryuichi Sakamoto I thought  this album might put you in a state of wonder. Chances are you never heard it. Look at the cover, and you might think of a seascape near your hometown at first glance, but look again, it IS the Pacific

The familiar sound of a cocktail shaker full of ice and distant seagulls gives way to a simple melody, a rhythm lolling in the light. We are on a journey back in time to an old Japan half of a lifetime ago. The seventies of the 20th century, that foolhardy decade.

Back then, we dreamed of Mount Fujiama that looked out at us on large postage stamps, playful and majestic, when we were baby boomers. Japanese guys dreamed differently. And so we find ourselves right in the middle of a music that conjured up their choice holiday paradises in those days of economic prosperity. The southern islands in the Pacific.

„Pacific“ is the title of this long-playing record. The work was composed in 1978. Okay, I know you missed the 70’s LIVE, but I am very sure you have been THERE quite a long time, via old and ancient records, early Norwegian ECM stuff etc etc etc

Almost all of PACIFIC is instrumental, except for the one song line that sums up all the reverie „with the summer in her hair“. Three PACIFIC explorers: Shugeru Suzuki, Harry Hosono, who was soon to co-found the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the third, one of the cracks of the Japanese City Pop scene, Tatsuro Yamashita. And an old acquaintance who also played on the album, Ryuichi Sakamoto. Bloody young, you wouldn’t believe it.

What an album! A pinch of early synth-pop, the Japanese version of American exotic dreams a la Les Baxter, melodic funk rhythms, a floating drift from horizon to horizon, a shangri-la for samples, a healthy breeze of New Age – easy peasy, soft and breezy. Safe journey.

Take care, Michael!

This entry was posted on Donnerstag, 9. September 2021 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Jan Bang:

    Dear Michael,

    You are right. The Japanese recordings I have is from the eighties mostly covers other members of YMO, especially Yukuhiro Takahashi, whom I once was fortunate to meet backstage at a concert in Tokyo in a time before traveling became impossible. I had been aware of Hosono´s fascination with Denny/Baxter and music from Hawaii (being connected by the South Pacific). Putting Tord Takemitsu into the equation and the blurry image becomes sharper.

    Jan Garbarek once told me that he was impressed by Takemitsu´s …A bird of prey vanishes into a Pentagonal Garden – and that they met during one of Jan´s travels to the beautiful country with the most extraordinary people.

  2. Susanne L:

    @ Jan Bang: Old Japanese music is now quite trendy, but also influencing more experimental streams of contemp music. In his radio night klanghorizonte Michael presented „Terrain“, the new album from Portico Quartet that would really be the icing on the cake of a future Punkt Festival. And their main influence on that album? Midori Takada: Through The Looking Glass.

  3. Jan Bang:

    @Susanne L: thanks, will check that out. J

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