Out 24th May Via Gearbox Records

“A sultry haze of shimmering ambient electronics and sparkling, effects-heavy guitar. Just what the ambient doctor ordered.”
–Electronic Sound

“…a soothing breeze, teleporting you directly to a grassy field in the sunshine – as transfixing as any record released thus far in 2021.”
–The Vinyl Factory

“…a meditative, hypnotic look at the human condition and its emotional spectrum”
–Far Out Magazine

Today, two of Japan’s foremost modern experimental proponents – the boundless ambient musician Chihei Hatakeyama and jazz drummer-in-demand Shun Ishiwaka – join forces to release a new album titled Magnificent Little Dudes Vol.1. Out 24th May, the album will be released by London analogue specialists Gearbox Records and will make up the first half of a two-part double vinyl release with Magnificent Little Dudes Vol.2 out this summer.

Recorded in sessions spanning eighteen months, Magnificent Little Dudes Vol.1 is full of obscure beats and samples, ethereal droning synth lines, and drumming that lifts and drive the record into new territory. The duo are also joined by Japanese guest vocal performer Hatis Noit (Erased Tapes) in the penultimate track “M4”, which his released today as the first single.

“M4” perfectly exemplifies the album’s atmospheric and subtly intricate makeup, combining mellifluous guitar lines with memory-evoking, slaloming electronics, while Ishiwaka’s drums ruminate in the background of the track and Noit’s otherworldly vocals add an element of wistful drama.


Speaking on the recording process, Hatakeyama says “No overdubbing was done. I like the 70’s style of recording and wanted to give it an old-time jazz feel.” Speaking about his influences when writing the album, he goes on to say “It may not sound like much, but it’s free jazz, spiritual jazz. I love Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra. Conceptually, we didn’t prepare anything in advance, but chose to take inspiration from the place, the studio, the venue, the weather, the temperature of the day, and so on – the album is full of short improvisations. I love Les Rallizes Dénudés, Keiji Haino, and My Bloody Valentine as well, so that’s where a lot the guitar-based influence comes from”

Hatakeyama is a sound artist, mastering engineer, and record label founder who was born in 1978 and lives in Tokyo. He has performed for years under his given name and also as one half of the electroacoustic duo Opitope alongside Tomoyoshi Date. From his first full-length album ‘Minima Moralia’ (“Excellent” 8.1 Pitchfork) in 2006, through the subsequent 70+ albums that followed, Hatakeyama has created a mighty canon of work. His catalogue is spread across a number of highly regarded labels, including Room40 in Australia, Own Records in Luxembourg, Under The Spire and hibernate in England, and Home Normal in Japan, and his own White Paddy Mountain imprint. His release rate is unquestionably impressive, but what is even more striking is the continual high quality of each alluring album, particularly overseas having previously ranked in the top 10 of Spotify’s “Most Played Domestic Artists Abroad.”

Having collaborated with the likes of Ai Kuwabara, Hiroki Chiba, Kei Matsumaru, Gen Hoshino, Terumasa Hino, Tony Allen, and countless others, Shun Ishiwaka is one of Japan’s most prolific modern jazz drummers. Not only does his discography feature well in excess of 100 appearances at just the age of 31, but has also worked on significant soundtracking projects including working alongside Ringo Sheena and Kenshi Yonezu on the theme song for “The Boy and The Heron”, as well as “Blue Giant”, and many more.

A worthy counterpart to Hatakeyama, it’s surprising that these two artists have never collaborated on an album in the past. Between them they’ve played across ambient, experimental, electronic, pop, hip-hop, jazz, and metal projects, and that’s what this new release represents – a meeting of like-minded musicians with innumerable reference points coming together at an epoch-making juncture to produce an ambient work brimming with creativity and an understanding. After years and years of tireless work and writing, this new album is proof not just for the listener but also for its two authors, that sometimes less really is more.

Magnificent Little Dudes Vol.1 is out 24th May via Gearbox Records – Pre-order HERE

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