This Light In The Attic compilation looks rather fantastic, historicising folk music from the tail-end of 1960s Japan. Cited as a period of growing political and cultural action amongst the country's younger demographic, Even A Tree Can Shed Tears arguably acts as a retrospective to music that was at its time unprecedented, with these artists seeking their own, particular sound through folk music.
Vinyl Double LP £32.99 LITA156LP
2LP on Light In The Attic, housed in a deluxe gatefold Stoughton tip-on jacket with artwork by illustrator Heisuke Kitazawa and extensive liner notes.
CD £15.99 LITA156CD
CD on Light In The Attic.
The front cover for ‘Even a Tree Can Shed Tears’ says quite enough. An urban scene of trams and cars and trains polluted further by the rising buildings they’re getting people to… all of it covered up by one really great tree. As the notes to this Light in the Attic comp suggest, folk music was at this time a rejection of norms in Japanese music rather than an honouring of it. Folk music was a subculture lying in response to “Beatlemania-inspired group sounds and squeaky clean College Folk”, and this record brims with artists dreaming of something more directly communicative.
Whether that matters -- whether this kinda ideal of ‘authenticity’ can ever be reached -- this is a gorgeous collection that seems to want to unite folk music with certain supposed origins, however myriad they may be. Many of these artists believed the College Folk scene had far less in common with Guthrie and Seeger, for instance, than it should. These songs are, themselves, extremely varied, and suggest no particular aesthetic could be agreed on -- some of it is lovely and ornate like an autumn’s Nick Drake, while other tracks lean into lounging psychedelia full of wahing guitars and mallet percussion. Others deviate into soft rock; many moments take acoustic strums as starting points before offering twanging, oddly countrified melodies.
It’s a record that speaks to the a hundred different directions these artists wanted to take, even as they attempted to build something new out of rebellion. Startling stuff for lovers of all things pastoral.
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