Takashi Kokubo didn’t know it back in 1985, but he was about to be at the forefront of one of Japan’s most coveted musical exports: kankyō ongaku (environmental music), an offshoot of ambient music that summons worlds and fills spaces with synthesized, and sometimes natural, sounds.

“When I created ‘Digital Soundology #1 Volk von Bauhaus,’ I didn’t even know what ambient or kankyō ongaku was,” Kokubo tells The Japan Times via email. “Later, I discovered what I made was indeed kankyō ongaku. Maybe it just wasn’t a big scene in Japan at that time.”

For sound designer and composer Kokubo, his music was simply a reaction to what he felt at the time was “too much.” Contemporary ’80s genres like pop and rock were too message-focused; even precisely composed forms, such as a Beethoven sonata, were something he didn’t want to listen to.