Various Artists

Japan: Musical Anthology of the Orient - Unesco Collection, Vol. 5

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Unesco's heavy concentration on Japan -- more individual volumes than devoted to any other land -- payed off in the form of focused rather than scattered collections, and was really necessary to present the sort of slowly evolving music that the listener will find here. The fifth volume in the Japanese series is devoted to Shinto music traditions, and is a meditative and moving blend of whispy flutes and percussion that is sometimes practically of the head-banging variety in terms of volume. Other instruments include the bamboo oboe hichiriki and a six-string zither with moveable bridges called a "wagon." Percussion sounds are rich in brass and other metal tones, and sometimes mysterious chanting is faintly audible underneath, a compelling effect.

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