May 23, 2023

Sitting with Satoshi Ashikawa's Still Way.

Sitting with Satoshi Ashikawa's Still Way.

Okay. I'm going out on a limb this week, I hope you'll join me.

In adapting writing for this column from my blog, I've focused the Spotlight On albums that I both had already written about at length, and was excited to revisit in a new context. At the start of this process, I sort of figured most of what I'd written for last year's 2022-in-review 100 Albums post met those (pretty easy) criteria. There had to be at least enough winners to last until the next 100 Albums post at the end of the year.

As it turns out,Vaults Of Eternity, um, was the last of the good ones. Most of what's left to work with barely cracks Tweet length, seriously. The quality of the 100 Albums post was...greatly exaggerated to the Spotlight On Shareholders.


So, from here on out, expect newer, wackier, stuff from the column, increasingly spontaneous and made up as we go. I'm talking full on crate-digging weirdness. I think the most valuable of what I've written so far's been artist-specific tangents about which I'm uniquely curious, and less professionally evaluated reviews, at which I do not necessarily excel. Maybe I just distract too easily. On that note, let's give Satoshi Ashikawa's Still Way (Wave Notation 2) a listen.

Still Way was released through Ashikawa's own Sound Process label in 1982, following Hiroshi Yoshimura's legacy-launching Music For Nine Post Cards earlier that year. The third-of-a-kind piano collection Erik Satie (France 1866 - 1925) by Satsuki Shibano closed out the Wave Notation series in 1984. I find the Wave Notation records so interesting, because of the cross-section of deeply chill Japanese ambient they encompass. This kind of music gets streams in 2023, but was bound to lost CDs and relegated to cultural background noise for most of the past 40 years. The boring kind, not the cool new age kind. Satoshi Ashikawa died in 1983 at age 30, before 90% of his audience was born, as seems to be the fate of many in his field. Cancer got Hiroshi Yoshimura in 2003. Satsuki Shibano seems to be alive and kicking, at least based on what little information's available about him online.

Today's post wasn't very sound-focused, and now that you bring it up, I'm not really sure what to say about Still Way that couldn't be gleaned from its first thirty seconds of runtime. There's a clarity and a delicacy (in both senses of the word) to this music shared by a good cup of tea in a nice piece of china. It's almost nothing, but if you're into it you'll sink into the lucidity of the experience and make it last. I don't really know what I'm talking about anymore, but I'm glad there's still people working to keep it all relevant for screenagers like me. Hopefully I was able to contribute. See you next week for something wildly different.

Go deeper still:

Music For Nine Post Cards

Vaults Of Eternity: Japan

A primer on Japanese Ambient via the record collection of Ricks Ang

To Remain in a Meadow With Hiroshi Yoshimura

Japan photo from


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