Translated from Japanese to mean ‘descent from Heaven,’ Amakudari was the brainchild of Winnipeg’s Greg Gardner, a multi-instrumentalist who began playing piano by the age of seven. He moved over to guitar and then drums by 13. His first professional gig was when he was still only 15.
By 1985, his credits included The Love Cycle, Noddy Head, Doris Daze & The Bankrobbers, among others. He formed Amakudari in ’86 with Jay Taylor (bass, cello, guitar, percussion), sitarist Huw Davies, and Greg Barrett on keyboards, and they wound up recording some material at Mid Ocean Studio in Winnipeg while getting some gigs in the GTA. While there, the CBC recorded their show at the Gas Station Theatre.
Taylor actually was the predominant writer in the collection of world/ avant garde instrumentals, and their self-titled album was released on the indie Shaman Records label later that year. Attic picked it up in ’87, and although the idea was to give it better distribution, the label didn’t exactly get behind it, and the album faded into obscurity and the band fell off the map. Everyone went on to their own projects, including Gardner returning to a record store in Winnipeg while moonlighting on the local circuit again.
As the new decade got underway, Gardner began recording some material again, but changed the name to Amahuwdari (an alternate spelling of the same translation, that’s all). He hooked up with Taylor and Davies again, and they released HYPNOSTIQUE in ’94. Another collection of instrumentals, it was either tagged chamber music, avant garde, world music, or the sort of background sounds you listen to while getting a deep tissue massage.
Reverting back to the Amakudari monikor, he again released an album called HYPNOSTIQUE in 2008, but with a different tracklisting than its predecessor, musically in the same vein. It too quickly became a collector’s item, and the members all returned to their previous jobs and projects. Gardner’s kept himself busy working with the likes of Bill Wallace, James Creasey, Stephanie Soul, and Big & Dinky, among others.