Watering a Flower album cover
Watering a Flower

Haruomi Hosono


Muji opened their first store in Tokyo in 1983, commissioning Hosono to create background music for in-store use. Hosono was not unfamiliar with the format, as YMO had already named their 1981 album BGM (i.e. “background music”) after it. “The lightweight, narrow emotionality of the music diffuses the potential threat of being in close proximity to so many strangers,” Paul Roquet writes in his 2016 book, Ambient Media/Japanese Atmospheres Of Self. “The music in these impersonal situations contours the relations between people.” Only released on cassette (though it can be found online), Hosono’s take on BGM cagily inverts the ideas of lightweightness and a soundtrack for shopping. It can feel woozy and childlike, atonal and warm, dreamy and queasy.

Andy Beta

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