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Ambiant Otaku

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Guest Astro Cortex

Ambiant Otaku (1994 Fax)


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1. 17:03 Karmic Light

2. 11:11 Low of Vibration

3. 10:49 Ambiant Otaku

4. 15:35 Holy Dance

5. 17:47 Magnetic Field


All tracks written by Tetsu Inoue




Otaku means „geek“ or „fanatic“, it’s the kind of person who is obsessed with one particular topic or hobby, and spends close to every second of his lifetime for just that, being isolated from social life. And listening to this superb ambient album, it’s not hard to imagine that Tetsu Inoue indeed did a lot of concentrated work to create it, possibly putting himself into an ‘otaku’ state for some time. Being a well-established artist already through his collaborations with Pete Namlook, Atom Heart and others, Tetsu composed his first solo album Ambiant Otaku, released on the Fax sublabel. As the front cover of the disc may suggest, this album is all about deep meditation, and it’s a splendid example of how to create a rich and organic impression through purely synthetic soundscapes. Also, the whole thing somehow sounds very Japanese to me, but in a non-stereotypical way.


Karmic Light provides quite an energetic start to an otherwise calm and slow-paced album, with an immediate soaring just above the clouds, during sunrise. The first part of the track is radiant with positive, bright sounds and lively melodies, which eventually get accompanied by a tasty and dynamic hi-hat pattern. It all feels like a warm breeze of air, which is developing a medium wind force, as you’re travelling quite fast, even without beats. After 7-8 minutes the rhythm disperses, and the track morphs into a free-floating piece that calms down as it progresses, gently spiralling towards the ground. Actually, this track sounds to me like the perfect musical illustration of the “land of the rising sun”. Marvellous!


The following track starts with sparkling high-pitched notes that make up a calm and meditative ambience. At the beginning one might wonder why such a twinkling piece of music is called Low of Vibration, but soon a deep rumbling bass appearing underneath provides the answer. Halfway through, the track starts to unfold its full glory, with some smoothly and slowly illuminating melody fragments that make you feel infinite depths of acoustic space (omg :rolleyes: ), it’s that kind of sound I so adore the Fax label for. The whole piece feels like meditating in a sacred space, surrounded by beautiful and abstract mandalas, like the one on the cover. Top class goosebump material!


On Ambiant Otaku we’re entering a more dark and spooky environment. It took me a while to appreciate the title track, as it appears quite monotonous due to its ever-repeating sinister melody. The track tends to sound a little bit out of place on the album, but it’s gradually starting to make sense to me. Maybe Tetsu’s idea was to illustrate the Otaku phenomenon and its sometimes torturing eeriness of isolation. To me however, this track evokes the image of a haunted toy factory, with evil grinning jack-in-the-box figures and stuff.


Holy Dance puts your mind into mellow and dreamy state right from the first second, beginning with a muffled choir that sounds very eastern in some way. In spite of its title, it is still very slow-burning ambient, though it's maybe the most rhythmic track on the whole CD, leisurely cycling forward with some light hi-hats, a soft bass pulse, and some sort of squelchy percussive sounds. While we were merely staring at the mandalas before, we’re now diving into them, warping their abstract patterns and interspersing the liquid colours. This is a crystalline piece of deep chill music, with lovely attention to details. Best track on the album. My only complaint is that the 15 ½ minutes seem to pass by too quickly ;) .


Magnetic Field is just light and peaceful. It’s a great track to fall asleep to, lulled by the buzzing and blurring layers of ambience. Perhaps not as phenomenal as some other moments of the disk, but still a beautiful finale.


Ambiant Otaku is considered a milestone in beautiful electronica, not only by ambient enthusiasts, like I am. It’s a true classic.


This is one of the few Fax sublabel releases that were reissued on Ambient World. But I’m sorry to say that even the reissue may be hard to find nowadays. So if you stumble upon the reissue, don’t overlook it and don’t hesitate to grab it.


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Artist: Tetsu Inoue

Title: Ambiant Otaku

Label: Fax +49-69/450464

Released: 28 March 1994




1 Karmic Light (17:04)

2 Low Of Vibration (11:11)

3 Ambiant Otaku (10:49)

4 Holy Dance (15:36)

5 Magnetic Field (17:47)


Ambiant Otaku by Tetsu Inoue is a classic in ambient. For me it embodies the early nineties ambient feel of long dreamy ambient made for eating stars. Any listen to this album always takes me into deep space. But not a cold void like we all imagine space to be but a warm bright space, like being close enough to a star to feel warm but not burnt, close enough that it lights up your emotions.


Karmic Light takes me right to that place and holds me in its warm dreamy drones, the light of the other stars in the universe twinkling brightly in the canopy of black nothingness.


Low Of Vibration feels to me like a spaceship passing by the sun I am trying to eat. The length of the ship is long and it vibrates roughly as it passes by, engines roaring and machine parts whirling incomprehensibly all the time, the stars still shine on my other side.


The title Track Ambiant Otaku has a simple melody that repeats over and over and sounds very ominous. This feels darker than before but I still feel like I am wrapped up in my protective cocoon drifting through deep space. This track with all its repetitive yet hypnotizing sounds makes me feel like I am drifting for centuries through deep dark space in a small pod waiting for the light again.


Holy Dance feels like I have reached somewhere, civilization. Right from the start there is a warmer more real feeling and the vocal choir gives that a more civilized touch. I can imagine I have landed on some alien planet; eternal warm night fills the whole landscape. More rhythmical with some pieces of bass, one very fat that rattles my head. Repetitive & hypnotic again, this track feels like some kind of ritual, on an alien world that I have the fortune to witness.


We finish off this masterful journey with Magnetic Field a beautiful track to end on. It is melodic and much more terrestrial than the rest of the journey. I feel like deep space & alien worlds are all gone and I am back in the city with a sense of melancholy that my amazing journey is coming to an end. It is a very soft track, light and melodic like the first but it feels much more urban. In the background I can hear police sirens and the drones just have a soft, early morning in the city feel to them.


A brilliant CD from start to finish, Ambiant Otaku is a must in any ambient lover’s collection. This has been out of print for a long time & even the re-release is hard to find, I was very luck to find this in a used record store very cheap, it just seemed to jump out at me. If you see it pick it up, even if you are not an ambient fan, you could make someone who is very happy.

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Nice review by Astro Cortex. Listening to this again under lockdown, after a long time, it remains a deep chill favourite, eclipsing many other efforts on Fax (RIP Pete N) and other labels. As Astro Cortex noted, the track names are especially suited to the sounds. Karmic light really does sound like nirvana (the afterlife not the grunge band). Ambiant otaku really does sound like an ambient nerd's nightmare down a rabbit hole. Magnetic fields really does sound like how I imagine they look. 

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It's definitely a total masterpiece of the Ambient genre. The tracks send you into a deep meditative state and it's difficult to explain how they are so effective at doing so.

I remember reading a few years ago that the artist had disappeared off the face of the earth, has there been any trace of him since?

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