Yellow Magic Orchestra

ARTIST: Yellow Magic Orchestra
YEAR: 1978
STYLE: Early Electronic, Synth, Disco

Yellow Magic Orchestra's debut album is by far my favorite. It leans more heavily into a funky/disco sound rather than the synth-pop style they helped pioneer in the years following.


ARTIST: Hiroshi Sato & Wendy Matthews
YEAR: 1982
STYLE: City Pop

Pure mellow bliss, with Say Goodbye being the outstanding track of this album.

RePorpoised Phantasies

ARTIST: Machine Girl
YEAR: 2020
STYLE: Electronic, Breakcore, DnB

In my opinion, Machine Girl is at their best when they focus on their electronic sound more so than their punk stuff. This album and their OST for Neon White are among my personal favorites.


YEAR: 1980
STYLE: Synth-Pop

When early synth-pop groups come up, usually Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra are the main groups discussed. Telex doesn't get the credit they deserve. Favorite tracks include My Future and their cover of Ann Steel's My Time.


ARTIST: Test Pattern
YEAR: 1982
STYLE: Synth-Pop

Another lesser known synth-pop album, Après-Midi would be the only album put out by the group. This album was produced by Haroumi Hosono and Masao Hiruma and is very minimalist, but you can still hear similarities in composition to some of Yellow Magic Orchestra's songs (this is particularly evident when listening to their song "Crescent Moon" compared to YMO's "Simoon.") The few other songs Test Pattern put out can be found on Yen Manifold Vol. 1.

Ride on Time

ARTIST: Tatsuro Yamashita
YEAR: 1980
STYLE: City pop, funk, rock

This album exemplfies the excptional soundscape of 80s Japanese music.

The Best of Naked Eyes

ARTIST: Naked Eyes
YEAR: 1991
STYLE: Synth-Pop

80s pop hits and the Brits go hand in hand, Naked Eyes is no exception. Between Always Something There to Remind Me, No Flowers Please, and Promises, Promises there is no shortage of bangers.

Good Morning America

ARTIST: 猫 シ Corp.
YEAR: 2017
STYLE: Vaporwave

I got this on cassette on a whim and it did not dissapoint. Before my portable Sony cassette player gave out, I would listen to this on early mornings and watch the sunrise from my dorm.

News at 11

ARTIST: 猫 シ Corp.
YEAR: 2016
STYLE: Vaporwave

While Floral Shoppe is the most iconic vaporwave album, News at 11 is the most profound to come out of the genre. The album uses sound samples entirely from TV broadcasts that played on September 11th, 2001, including news report soundbites taking place right before the first plane hit the WTC. It's an eerie album centered around the event that many see as the end of a prosperous era.
I highly recommend watching this music video that pairs the album and its news/commercial samples with the original clips and sights of pre-9/11 New York City.

Imaginary Voyage

ARTIST: Jean-Luc Ponty
YEAR: 1976

Say what you want about NPR, but their local programming can be a goldmine for finding music. I heard a track from this playing late one night on a McDonalds run, it sounded vaguely famaliar (I thought it may have been from his album Mystical Adventures, Ponty's use of the acoustic violin is very distinct after all.) Side A is seperate tracks, and Side B is broken into several parts with a strong emphasis on improvisation.

The Pacific

ARTISTS: Haroumi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki, Tatsuro Yamashita & More
YEAR: 1978
STYLE: Mellow

The greatest musical talent in Japan, all working on one of the most mellow albums of all time.

Vicious Pink

ARTISTS: Vicious Pink
YEAR: 1986
STYLE: Pop, Dance

A feminine album, but a guilty pleasure. One of many solid productions by Tony Mansfield.


ARTISTS: New Muzik
YEAR: 1986
STYLE: Pop Rock, Synth-pop

Speaking of Tony Mansfield...his group New Musik provides a mix of upbeat, pop melodies and chilled out, downtempo beats in this album.

Mista Don't Play: Everythangs Workin

ARTISTS: Project Pat
YEAR: 2001
STYLE: Memphis Rap

Speaking from personal experience, this album is best enjoyed while drinking cheap bourbon with your homies in your mid apartment.

Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde

ARTISTS: The Pharcyde
YEAR: 1992
STYLE: Hip Hop

While this album's most well known song, Passin me By, is a chill track, the rest is just crazy fun. The word play on Oh Shit is pretty funny. But Return of the B-Boy is right, burn the mother fucker down!

The Move of Life

ARTISTS: Windsor Riley
YEAR: 1988
STYLE: Ambient, New Age

I really wish Windsor Riley put out more albums, this one is such a journey. Feels like I am traveling through a desert on my way to forbidden knowledge.

夜間飛行 = Night Flight

ARTISTS: Osamu Shoji
YEAR: 1979
STYLE: Synth, Space

80s? Japan? Synths? Vague space theme? Perfect.


ARTISTS: Shigenori Kamiya
YEAR: 1980
STYLE: Synth, Space

Shigenori Kamiya is an interesting guy. He was a race car driver in his early years, but it was cut short after a near death accident. Kamiya pivoted to music, with his debut album being based upon both the supposed lost continent of Mu and a Japanese paranormal magazine of the same name. As evident by the album art, the album borrows Egyptian sounds captures the mystique of ancient aliens and space travel. Read more about it here.

Idle Vice

YEAR: 1985
STYLE: New Wave

Holy hell this album is highly slept on. It's like all the best bits of 80s music all in one package. Overall it reminds me a bit of Kajagoogoo's sound.


ARTISTS: マクロスMacross 82-99
YEAR: 2013
STYLE: Future Funk, Vaporwave

This was my gateway into not only vaporwave/future funk, but city pop in general via its sample of Tatsuro Yamashita's song Merry Go Round. I found this album through "weird Twitter" December one year. The weather only added to it, Street Race 2049 felt tailor made for driving with the windows down on a chilly morning.

Mother Earth's Plantasia

ARTISTS: Mort Garrison
YEAR: 1976
STYLE: Synth

Synth bliss. My ex would put this on during late nights, it's a lovely album and my associated memories earn it a special place in my heart (and ears!)


ARTISTS: Windows 96
YEAR: 2017
STYLE: Synthwave/Vaporwave

Perfect for a long night's drive, and a fitting use of Taeko Ohnuki's likeness for the cover art. After all, it is the sampling of city-pop that really grew vaporwave into something special, That said, this album does not rely on said samples, it's just a mellow journey of original compositions.


ARTISTS: Emergency Broadcast Network
YEAR: 1992
STYLE: Breakbeat, Video Drugs, Experimental, YTPMV

This is an audio-visual trip. While the music is good on its own, I must recommend their VHS compilation over the album itself. Is that cheating? Idk and idc. The Emergency Broadcast Network (EBN) were pioneers in their craft of sampling television/media for music based remixes. It is worth contextualizing the era, this group couldn’t just look up video samples after the fact on-line, they had to comb through countless hours of recorded material and then fuse it all together with analogue editing techniques into something catchy. Combine that with the effects and proto-sentence mixing, and you have an album that is decades ahead of its time.

MOTHER (Original Soundtrack)

ARTISTS: Keiichi Suzuki (ft. Catherine Warwick & Louis Philippe)
YEAR: 1989

A quirky game meets a quirky composer, Keiichi Suzuki's compositions are lovingly brought to life by Catherine Warwick and Louis Philippe.


YEAR: 1981
STYLE: Weird, Folk, Japanese

It's a very weird album, one of the many I ended up finding through the vaporwave rabbithole. I love it, but I can't even fully recommend this album (or Chakra's other songs) to the average person. Maybe if you enjoy how strange the Earthbound/Mother 2 soundtrack is you can find some enjoyment in this.

Summer Breeze

YEAR: 1983
STYLE: City Pop

When vaporwave had me down the rabbithole of Japanese 80s music around 2014, digging deep enough got me into Piper. Apparently I am not alone in that, given that in the years following the group had a resurgence and even some vaporwave inspired remixes. Recent internet urban legend insists that Nintendo composer Koji Kondo was inspired by the album’s main feature, Summer Breeze, for the Super Mario Bros. starman theme. Personally I find this claim to be far reaching as this album did not do well in the charts upon release, but in all fairness, perhaps someone like Koji Kondo would’ve been in touch with the lesser known musical scenes of the time.


ARTISTS: Osamu Sato
YEAR: 1995
STYLE: Breakbeat, Techno, Future Jazz, Experimental

Let's get weird! Osamu Sato is a very interesting artist. Most well known for his involvement in the Playstation game LSD: Dream Emulator, Sato has quite the portfolio . Equal stands out to me because it was at the peak of Sato's involvement with gaming as an artistic medium, and because of the tracks featuring Ryuichi Sakamoto. This was not the first time they collaborated, Sato had provided the cover art for Sakamoto's book Seldom Illegal and the (rare/lost) album Asian Flowers. "Lost media" is a recurring theme with Sato's art.

Asian Flowers

ARTISTS: Ryuichi Sakamoto
YEAR: 1991
STYLE: Ambient Electronic

As I mentioned before, Ryuichi Sakamoto's album Asian Flowers is not only obscure, but considered lost. Aside from a very recent YouTube upload of 1/3 tracks (Ambient Mix) the other two haven't been shared...until now, ENJOY!
  • 01. Asian Flowers (Ceremony Mix)
  • 02. Asian Flowers (Afro Mix)
  • 03. Asian Flowers (Ambient Mix)

  • Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto

    ARTISTS: Ryuichi Sakamoto
    YEAR: 1978
    STYLE: Ambient Electronic

    Ryuichi Sakamoto's first album is a pioneer of Japanese electronic music. Many of the tracks on this album, including Thousand Knives, Plastic Bamboo, and The End of Asia would go on to be reworked for Yellow Magic Orchestra's album BGM. My personal favorite of the album is Grasshoppers, which stylistically really stands out from the rest of the album with a traditionally beautiful keyboard.


    ARTISTS: New Musik
    YEAR: 1981
    STYLE: Downtempo Synth-Pop

    A chill Tony Mansfield production.


    ARTISTS: Mezzoforte
    YEAR: 1984
    STYLE: Fusion

    If you like The Rippingtons you'll enjoy this.