Goro Yamaguchi, 'A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky'
Probably the only time a review of traditional Japanese flute music has ever appeared in Rolling Stone, Gori Yamaguchi, considered the greatest shakuhachi player of his generation, was certainly worthy of the ink. A portion of A Bell Ringing was included alongside works by Bach, Stravinsky and Blind Willie Johnson that NASA etched onto Golden Records and launched into space aboard the Voyager in 1977. He was so adept at his craft, Japan designated Yamaguchi a "Living National Treasure" in 1992, seven years before he passed away at the age of 65.
What We Said Then: "There's a lot of powerful, eerie music in Japanese culture… and the melodic instrument of Zen is a throaty bamboo flute called shakuhachi, of which this is the first album to be made widely available. The mood of the music is a highly refined intellectual spirituality, an agonizing intense meditation on the Void. The sound is arrhythmic, as if constantly on the verge of halting, and it often calls to mind sirens… There's not much of this startling music available in this country." By Charles Perry, April 19th, 1969