Nathan Kawanishi

Stuck in a pandemic lockdown at his home in Washington, Nathan Kawanishi began to think of Japan. The rising producer, multi-instrumentalist, and rapper was used to making his lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals anywhere his heart took him—in coffee shops, on buses, on planes—but for a bit, he needed to adapt to a new process and to find new inspiration. Kawanishi’s mind started to wander back to his home away from home—the area in and around Tokyo, where he’d spent much of the last few years. Reflecting on the little details, locations, sounds, and smells that make Japan so special to him, Kawanishi started putting together a 24-hour itinerary of some of his favorite memories of living there. The resulting recordings is a “soundtrack of different scenarios and situations.” Along the way, there’s trains and cats and bookstores and, of course, ramen. Inspired by the hybrid hip-hop of artists like Earl Sweatshirt and Mac Miller, the final result is a work of winking chillness that fits Kawanishi alongside instrumental vibe-purveying contemporaries like Sarah the Illstrumentalist, SwuM, Psalm Trees and Harris Cole. And yet, it’s also something of a new form of ambient music, carrying on the tradition of subversive progressives like Brian Eno.