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Cudighi is thrilled to announce the first vinyl release of World Standard’s 1997 Country Gazette, newly remastered as a double LP set. Produced by pop electronic wiz Haruomi Hosono and created by Sohichiro Suzuki, Country Gazette is a pioneering piece of ambient Americana that remains unparalleled 27 years after its release.

Conceived during the dusk of the 20th century, Country Gazette kicked off Suzuki’s definitive “Discover America” series for Hosono’s label Daisyworld Discs. To match Daisyworld’s avant-garde ethos, Suzuki knew he wanted to make music that explored uncharted territory. Ditching the carefree exotica of his early work, he embraced the unknown and laid down three thematic ground rules:

1. Make a country music album (a genre he wasn’t exactly fond of).
2. Use sampled sound sources in lieu of live performance.
3. Create a virtual world that cannot be reproduced live.

These restrictions gave Suzuki space to build - and break down - his own interpretations of Americana. Channeling his fascination with John Fahey and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Suzuki eschewed traditional country clichés to instead paint a darker sonic portrait where fear and beauty intertwined. The resulting album was both delicate and dissonant, pairing the anxious atmosphere of the late 90s with American Gothic.

This unique sound came from the way Country Gazette was assembled. More producer than performer, Suzuki used his bedroom studio as an instrument, manipulating guitars, banjos, and mandolins with lo-fi AKAI samplers and warping his way to acid-tinged honky-tonk. It was Shibuya-kei country, a deconstructed fusion of downtempo and Delta blues that incorporated field recordings, cut-ups, and collages to make a montage of rural America. For Suzuki, any sample was fair game. A rusty fingerpicked guitar on a creaky cedar porch. The whisper of crickets. The ghastly scream of a steam locomotive barreling toward oblivion. Dry brushes on a squeaky snare drum. A female chorus feeding back in the scorching heat. Tremolo flickering like desert haze. All of it swallowed up and spat out as a silent wasteland, save for distant thunder…

By melding disparate samples, Suzuki created intoxicated imagery that is chilling and cartoonish, peculiar and pastoral, soothing and supernatural. In this sense, Country Gazette feels cinematic, like the lost soundtrack to a Wim Wenders road movie with no clear destination. It’s a world of monochrome sandstorms, time-warped tumbleweeds, and lonesome strangers shrouded by cowboy hats, seeking refuge. Much like the album cover - itself an homage to the 1970 classic “Nilsson Sings Newman” - Suzuki guides us across the unknown with Hosono-san, his co-pilot and travel companion.

In its effort to define America by way of Japan, Country Gazette exists beyond borders, both capturing the countryside and creating its own wacky world. It’s an album that defies clear categorization - not quite country or electronic, it is offbeat, amorphous, and wholly innovative.