Sachiko Kanenobu

A Japanese singer-songwriter from the early 70s unlike any other I've encountered.

Sachiko Kanenobu (金延幸子) was involved in the country's tight-knit folk community in the late 60s, performing with a short-lived band called Gu (愚) and recording one solo LP before vanishing for a couple decades. In 1970, she married Paul Williams, the rock critic who created Crawdaddy!, and had a couple children. The two divorced in 1980.

What an album Mi Sora (み空) is. Warm, loose, easy-going, it's a lo-fi bedroom recording that was tenderly transposed to a professional studio where its intimate quietness was swaddled in luxuriant emptiness, space. Confoundingly, it's breathtakingly rich and spellbindingly minimal. Maybe it's Kanenobu's voice, a sublime marriage of traditional Japanese singing and Western bohemian amateurishness. There are moments on this LP when she teeters close to being out of tune, but her expressiveness and the practiced cool of her band make them precious, not awkward.

It should be noted that Haruomi Hosono (細野晴臣), who was, at the time, in Happy End (はっぴいえんど), "music directed" it, and his patient presence is deeply felt. Here and there, little ornamentations are hung from the pieces—a bright horn, a rattling drum—and without his deft hand, they'd sound random, arbitrary. Instead, it just further emphasizes the notion that this is a study in simplicity.

I love the title itself. It's hard to translate. Sora (空) is Japanese for "sky," buts its meaning changes some much with the addition of the prefix mi (み), an honorific. Generally, it seems to be called Beautiful Sky in English, but this adds complexity to the name that isn't there in Japanese. Really, it should just be Sky—but with pause and contemplation embedded within.