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Studio Mule Vinyl, CD & tapes from this label at Norman Records

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Back Ground Music

BGM, which I assume stands for Back Ground Music is the work of Japanese electronic producer Takayuki Shiraishi. He takes his influences from the worlds of post-punk, new wave and krautrock. Back Ground Music is one of the most sought after LPs in Japan. Fortunately this reissue will make it significantly easier to find.

Studio Mule
Visible Cloaks Remix

Studio Mule’s BGM LP was a record full of covers of rare grooves from Japan. Visible Cloaks (Spencer Doran) knows a thing or two about Japanese music - check the Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 compilation he curated for Light In The Attic - so it makes sense to get him in on remix duties. He fully blisses out two tracks from BGM on this gorgeous EP of ambient drone. Think Ian William Craig.
  • Label(s):
  • Studio Mule

Nina Atsuko
Play Room

As a rare slice of 80's urban jazz fusion, Nina Atsuko's 'Play Room' very much glided the wave of the big Japanese city pop revival, but with the singer-songwriter's very own unique slant on things. Nearly 40 years since its original release, this 10-track-long piece is a real Japanese city pop gem waiting to be re-discovered.
  • Vinyl LP (STUDIO MULE 26 LP)
  • Preorder now (ships on release)

Yukihiro Fukutomi
Feel My Love Vibes

Only the most comprehensive deep house collectors outside Japan are likely to have felt Yukihiro Fukutomi’s love the first time around in 1992. For the first time, here’s another chance. This resides on the jazzier, funkier end of house; there’s tonky piano, vibraphone, lustful moaning and a bass line to die for. There are two primary versions plus a dub and an instrumental.

Fumio Itabashi Trio
Rise and Shine – Live at the Aketa's

Fumio Itabashi recorded this very fine live date at Tokyo jazz club Aketa’s in 1977, in fact prior to his first album release. His phenomenal piano lines lead his Trio  through three pieces here, with a classic and a cover culminating in the epic and ecstatic Rise And Shine. Reissued to vinyl by Studio Mule.
  • Vinyl LP (STUDIOMULE20)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Studio Mule

‘But I thought Studio Mule was just a label?’ we hear you cry. You’re right, but now the Japanese imprint has added an in-house band to its arsenal. On BGM label head Toshiya Kawasaki has assembled a crackpot team to help him reinterpret tracks from artists like Yellow Magic Orchestra and Burt Bacharach (though the version of Bacharach’s ‘The April Fools’ here draws more on the Yukihiro Takahashi cover) in a dreamy Balearic/City Pop style. Dip In The Pool’s Miyako Koda provides vocals on two songs.

King Kong Paradise
Atsuma Mo Samusam

Up until now the partnership that has been forged between Studio Mule and Johnny’s Disk Record has produced a slew of superb Japanese jazz reissues. However, for the latest edition the Mule Musiq offshoot have opted to re-press an LP that is something of an anomaly in the JDR catalogue. Atsuma Mo Samusam, a super-duper-rare 1984 record from King Kong Paradise, has just as much reggae, Balearia and new-wave in it as it does the jazz-fusion of King Kong Paradise's other albums. Think Second Circle and Beats In Space.
  • Label(s):
  • Studio Mule

Eiji Nakayama
Aya's Samba

Over the past couple of years Mule Musiq offshoot Studio Mule has established itself as one of the go-to labels for Japanese jazz reissues. Much of its best material has been scavenged from the catalogue of Johnny’s Disk Record. Eiji Nakayama’s 1978 LP Aya’s Samba is Studio Mule’s latest catch. This is a collection of deftly groovy jazz tracks whose beats are rooted in salsa, funk and (of course) samba. It's a good thing this one's been reissued seeing as original copies go for megabucks.

Mayumi Sonoda with Kichiro Sugino Trio
Gogo Sanji No Aki

Here we have another great reissue shipped via the Studio Mule-Johnny’s Disk Record pipeline. For those of you unfamiliar with Studio Mule, a sub-label of Mule Musiq, all you need to know is 1) that they specialise in re-releasing Japanese jazz rarities, and 2) that they find a lot of their material from the archives of the Johnny’s Disk Record imprint. Mayumi Sonoda and Kichiru Sugino Trio’s 1982 LP Gogo Sanji No Aki is the latest gem, a hazily beautiful selection of Billie Holiday-inspired numbers.

Midnight In Tokyo Vol. 3

Ever wondered what night time feels like in Tokyo? Well do we have a compilation for you. Midnight in Tokyo Vol. 3 from Studio Mule is a masterful selection of tracks that capture then multiplicity of nightlife in Japan's capital. It's sexy, it's funky, it's calm and it's lovely. All in all these 14 rare tracks are utterly transportive. 

Motohiko Hamase

Motohiko Hamase’s Reminiscence is another one of those rare vintage items that will quickly pluck up the attention of serious vinyl collector heads, but this reissue thankfully puts it in the hands of the regular listener and lover of new-agey, electric-bass-led ambient-jazz-fusion music. Reissued by Studio Mule.

Motohiko Hamase

There’s a resurgence in japanese electronic, jazz and new age music going at the moment. This has shone new light on the underrated bass player, Motohiko Hamase leading to the reissue of his ambient/new age album, Intaglio. Hamase was a reliable session player with acts such as pianist Tsuyoshi Yamamoto and maverick guitarist, Kazumi Watanabe as well as being a member of the Isao Suzuki Sextet playing modern jazz. LP and CD on Studio Mule.

Studio Mule
Carnaval feat. Miyako Kouda

Clearly no longer content with being one of the most consistently excellent house labels of the last decade, Mule Musiq branch out with this mysterious new Studio Mule project. Not much is known about the group’s membership - our guess is that MM boss Toshiya Kawasaki might have something to do with it. However, there are three things that we can say for sure: 1) ‘Carnaval’ is a cover of a Taeko Ohnuki’s classic. 2) This version features vocals from Dip In The Pool’s Miyako Kouda. 3) Both edits of the track here are perky acid/disco jams that will bring a smile to your face.
  • Vinyl 12" (STUDIO MULE 3)
  • £12.49 £7.49 (saving: £5.00)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy


A wonderful reissue of a distant gem from 1987, which itself was quite an obscurity in its time. Sitting in the middle of a space rock epic, 80s fusion and balearic synth, the album takes the listener to unimaginable places, an ethereal blend of vintage Japanese electronic pop and cosmic rock balladry. 
  • Label(s):
  • Studio Mule