World Arbiter

VA - Japanese Traditional Music: Koto - Shamisen

"...Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai 1941. The World Arbiter label presents 1941 recordings of the Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai -- masters of the koto and shamisen, heard with excerpts from theater and songs performed by many artists born in the Meiji period. They represent the earliest examples of ancient classical traditions. In the late 1930s, Japanese musicologists and experts completed years of work on a project to record their country's musical cultures, starting with ritualized shamanic traditions of the palace's gagaku, Buddhist chant, Noh theater, blind lute (biwa) players chanting medieval epics, a body of koto music, shamisens of kabuki dances, folk songs of workers, artisans, farmers, and children's songs. Five volumes, each with 12 78 rpm discs, comprised the leading performers of the time, many born into a Japan that newly opened to the West in 1868, taught by masters of an earlier isolated Japan. These recordings were meant to be given only to educational institutions and not sold. Right before starting their distribution, war broke out in 1941. Beate Sirota Gordon, age 22, accompanied the U.S. Army to Japan in 1946. She had grown up in Tokyo with her parents, Russian pianists whose pupils included Yoko Ono and her father. Beate secretly wrote a pioneering section on women's rights in Japan's post-war Constitution. During her mission, Donald Ritchie, a noted film historian, discovered a set of these recordings and gave them to her. Gordon presented them to Arbiter in the late 1990s. Aside from her copy, only one other complete set is known to have survived the war in Japan, as they were possibly destroyed in a warehouse bombing. The people of post-war Japan and the rest of the world now have the chance to hear these lost recordings of Japan's broad cultural legacy. On these recordings, one is struck by a sense of eternity belonging to a culture living in a mind-set of immortality and permanence, an ease buoying virtuosity and intricate musical forms, revealing a gripping authenticity that later performers hint at. This third of five discs contains significant examples of the koto and shamisen literature, dances from Kabuki and puppet theater traditions, many originating in the 1700s. Full descriptions are included in a lengthy booklet, while complete translations are on Arbiter's web site. Arbiter loves Japan and its arts, and is honored to revive lost master performers."- World Arbiter.

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  • Regular price $14.00

After nearly a decade of false starts, multiple game plans veering off the rails, and a handful of shattered hopes and/or dreams, the odyssey is finally complete—the new Fusetron site is here.

This is the first phase of a multipart rollout that will span the next few months: the currently browsable stock includes miscellaneous new releases from the past 8+ months (we have a lot of catching up to do), plus approximately a third of our backstock. Note that we’ve reduced/slashed prices on many titles and will continue to do so in order to make room for new stock. We’ll also be expanding / tweaking / improving / debugging the site itself (for example, we still have work to do on the automated international postage system, not to mention the inevitable inventory discrepancies that come with transferring an ancient and massive database to a new system).

Over the next few months, as we take inventory, clean house, and delve into our storage, we will be uploading thousands of additional items, gradually, on a near-daily basis. This will include the majority of the LPs, as well as many titles, in all formats, once thought long-gone. Many currently “sold out” items are likely to resurface.

Finally, once our general backstock is up (probably in the next two or three months) we’ll begin making our extensive stockpile of rarities available online for the first time: tons of random out-of-print titles, "deadstock," warehouse finds, secondhand collectibles, etc., accumulated over the past few decades.

Frequent/returning customers will be getting early access to these items. Details to follow on how this will work (a priority mailing list? a 'frequent flyer'-like program?), but it will not be based on dollars spent. We want to reward those who consistently support us, especially in the discogs marketplace era (to those who show up trying to poach five copies of a one-off rarity, and nothing else, ever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).

So—we suggest you take some time to dig through the site—even we’ve been surprised by what’s been turning up, and there’s much more to come.
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