JUN KAWABATA : Piano / Mini Moog / Arp Synth / Mellotron / Percussion / Xylophone / Voice
MARIN HARUE : Vocal (6,12)
YOKOTARO : Electric Guitar / Acoustic Guitar / Mandolin (2,5,7)
TAKASHI MEGURO : Bass (11)
Recorded at Private House in spring 2021
All Music Composed and Arranged by JUN KAWABATA
Mixed and Mastered by Hideki Ataka
Photograph by Jun Kawabata
Designed by Wataru Yoshioka
Translation by Michael K Kato
Produced by Jun Kawabata
Low Earth Orbit is probably as apt a title for this album as anything I could imagine. The music seems to echo from a somewhat distant past, not only from composition but even its instrumentation. Jun Kawabata uses on this release synthesizers and keyboards from the past, relics from the 80s and 90s.
I don’t know really why he decided to use instruments of an earlier period of his musical journey, but it does seem to make sense to me, since the music comes from a year in which he was nearly completely confined to his home. Like most of the world, the novel coronavirus made many of us prisoners in our own homes tnroughout 2020.
Like many people I know, I’d spent the better part of 2020 listening more often than not to music from my youth and early adulthood—from the 70s to 90s. One of the albums on my frequent playlist was David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Listening to Starman, I’d imagine looking at the Earth’s predicament from space and think about the absurdity of it all.
So it didn’t seem at all strange that Kawabata was spending his months of confinement thinking about the world from the perspective of an astronaut.
I’m sure that instrumentation plays a part, but something else in Low Earth Orbit sounds familiar. I know that Kawabata used to be a huge fan of psychedelic and progressive music from the late 60s and 70s, so he might have spent some of 2020 listening to Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Some of that might’ve rubbed off.
I’ve known Jun Kawabata for more than 20 years. We originally met at Design Festa in the late 90s, when Airplane Label was in its infancy. I think his first recording was Absolute Elsewhere. It wasn’t like anything else I’d heard before, incorporating sounds he recorded at airports in Europe, where he’d been traveling in his 20s. Even though Low Earth Orbit doesn’t really sound anything like Absolute Elsewhere, I was reminded of it. Maybe they are both the sounds of someone who is a bit lost or, perhaps, trying to get lost.
This album might then be an extreme expression of wanderlust. I don’t think that Kawabata has any real envy for Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, but I do hope that we’ll someday soon be able to travel safely again. Until then, you too can fly a Low Earth Orbit.
Jun Kawabata「Low Earth Orbit」、素晴らしいタイトルだと思う。その音楽もちょっぴり懐かしいのは古い楽器を使っているせい？80年代や90年代のシンセサイザーやキーボードを使用していると聞いたが、それだけではない気がする。
When I was in elementary school, I learned about Gagarin. He was a pilot of the former Soviet Union, the first human to fly in space. His first name is the name of an ordinary farmer–Yuri. Yuri Gagarin.
His spaceship was called Vostok 1. And his famous quote: “The Earth is blue.” Seeing his name in my textbook, I thought that he must be a great man. His name stood alongside others, such as Noguchi Hideo, Madame Curie, and Gandhi.
I read of another pilot in my textbook. She was the first female astronaut, whose name was Tereshkova. She orbited the Earth 48 times. Previously, she had worked in a textile factory. From space, she said, “I am a seagull.”
Upon his return to the blue Earth, Gagarin, who was called “Starman,” apparently said, “There was no god there.” A female pilot seems to have just the call sign, “seagull.” As a kid, I remember being oddly fascinated by the “blue earth” and “seagull.”
In my twenties, I traveled as a backpacker. In Italy, I boarded a ship in Brindisi, crossing to Mykonos Island. In the early morning, with a slight hangover, I went out onto the ship’s deck. I was greeted by a blindingly intense sun and the deep blue sea. The blue I saw there was deep, burning, and silent. I was reminded of Gagarin and thought, “this is what the Earth looks like from space.” And there was no god there.
Fast forward to 2021. A rebel virus, flooding, blackout, earthquake, climate crisis, hunger, discrimination, division, demonstration, riots, coups, a hodgepodge of malaise. Eventually, it’s said that we must seek a “sustainable society.”
The Earth appears to be a B-grade SF movie. Perhaps a timely moment for an appearance of an alien…