Taj Mahal Travelers: Japanese ambient music from the early 1970s


In 1969, Fluxus artist/musician Takehisa Kosugi formed the Taj Mahal Travelers, an octet of Japanese musicians whose used traditional instruments like violin, double bass, tuba, trumpet, and mandolin in non-traditional ways and run through early electronic effects systems. Their compelling drone improvisations were decidedly different and, to my ears, more unsettling than the other avant-garde drone sounds of the era coming from the New York City axis of Tony Conrad, John Cale, and La Monte Young. In the book Japrocksampler, Julian Cope describes the Taj Mahal Travelers' music as "reminiscent of the creaking rigging of the un-manned Mary Celeste." The excellent Taj Mahal Travelers live albums titled "August 1974" and "July 15, 1972" have just been reissued on vinyl. I picked mine up from Experimedia in the US. Here are samples from the albums: