Maya Ongaku - Approach To AnimaLABEL: Guruguru Brain
Expected in stock between 9th - 23rd June
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Hailing from the seaside communities surrounding Enoshima, a small island located 50 km southwest of Tokyo, Maya Ongaku is a ragtag collective of local musicians whose brand of earthy psychedelia transcends widely beyond the roots of their inner souls. The name derives not from any kind of ancient civilization, but rather a neologism defined as the imagined view outside one’s field of vision. The band—currently a trio of Tsutomu Sonoda, Ryota Takano, and Shoei Ikeda—finds sanctuary at the Ace General Store, a beachy vintage shop and salon-like space just hidden from sight from the bustling, touristy riverside Subana Street. Between discussions on music and art, curating the vinyl section and manning the register, and chatting up with locals young and old, the members find time to jam and record their spontaneous ideas in the studio tucked away in the back. It’s in this unlikely setting where Maya Ongaku finds its origins, the culmination of what Sonoda describes as 自然発生 (shizen hassei), meaning spontaneous generation, or the supposed production of living organisms from nonliving matter.
Approach to Anima, the group’s debut album released on Guruguru Brain, finds Maya Ongaku building a foundational groove while tapping into their innermost psyche. Sonoda’s malleable guitar and vocals, Takano’s sinuous bass lines, Ikeda’s floating woodwinds, and a sprinkling of delicate percussion—all coalesce into an aural experience that’s assertive yet abstract, calm but unsettling. The slow building, sax-laden “Approach” serves as an introduction to Maya Ongaku’s world, while the appropriately-named “Water Dream” floats its way toward the gentle finale of “Pillow Song.” It’s a concise distillation of their many interests and influences, from Neo-Dada and Fluxus, to where contemporary art intersects with the development of modern recording technology in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
As the title suggests, Approach to Anima is not intended to be a terminus; it’s merely the beginning of an exploration. The three childhood friends that comprise Maya Ongaku are always looking beyond the confines of the idyllic but rapidly gentrifying enclave of their beloved Enoshima. Feeding off of the energy that still radiates from the triumphant, decade-long journey of their label bosses’ band Kikagaku Moyo, who rose to global prominence from scrappy beginnings busking on the streets of Takadanobaba, they hope to go wherever inspiration takes them, to anywhere around the globe where their music can find a home.
Ultimately, Maya Ongaku’s uninhibited world-building will make it possible for us to see the unseen, expand the possibilities of the naked eye—all through the unbridled vibrancy of their music.