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22/05/2013

Plapla Pinky at Villette Sonique on Saturday 25th May

A great piece of news that is sure to please a good number of you: Plapla Pinky are playing at the Villette Sonique festival on Saturday 25th May at 7pm.

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Satanicpornocultshop

Satanicpornocultshop

By integrating Levi Strauss’ concept of ‘bricolage’ (Tristes Tropiques, 1955) into hip-hop, the early duet comprised of Alan Folkroe and Ghammehuche cast the first stone of what will soon become the surrealistic castle randomly named Satanicpornocultshop in 1997.

The first Satanicpornocultshop album voluptuously titled ‘Nirvana or Lunch ?’ released on their own label NuNuLaxNulan in 1998, was followed by a series of participations in various compilations: Trip Trap, LD&K, Subject, etc. Art of confusion already prevailing in their work, their third opus ‘Baltimore 72’ (1999) was released before their second one ‘Belle Excentrique’ (2000). Since then, the gangrenous music of Satanicpornocultshop kept spreading over sick developped countries by using the saturated communication networks and mastering the art of satire and remixes.

Second act of Satanicpornocultshop story opens with the sudden and symbolic death of Alan Folkroe in 2001. As Ghammehuche could not be left alone with his steep schizophrenia and creative delirium, fellow members boarded the demonic vessel within a few months: Meu-Meu and his dubious performance style, *es the mixing master with nerves of steel, Vinylman turntable-ing with attitude and Ugh overusing electronics and puking MC skills. All together, they slownly moved Satanicpornocultshop from distorted and perverted collage territories to accumulation of sound layers pierced by one single beat, futuristic hiphop and eroticization of sounds, ‘erotronica’.

The holdall of Dada is conveniently used by music critics, but the main players still think that the more accurate word of ‘bricolage’ defined best their work. Satanicpornocultshop influences and productions are not limited to music and sounds, they are boiling over the borders of art, spilling over ideas and images with a unique and grandiose disrespect.

In the end of 2001, Satanicporncultshop are invited to perform at the peak time glory of the Batofar club in Paris, first collaboration is opened with the label Sonore with their participartion on the ‘Batofar Cherche Tokyo’ CD compilation. The first Tour de France is organized for Satanicpornocultshop, mesmerizing an incredulous audience with absurd performances. The next year 2002, their fourth and glossily produced album ‘Ugh Yoing’ is released on NuNuLaxNulan.

Lisa from the band La Bossa, hidden voice from Satanicpornocultshop, joined the gang officially in 2003 for the release of their fifth album ‘Anorexia Gas Balloon’ on Sonore. International listeners are getting aware of Satanicpornocultshop phenomenom, ‘Anorexia Gas Balloon’ get reviews and airplay in Japan, Europe, US and Canada. The very same year, their killing cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Candy Says’ appears onto the UK Wire magazine compilation Wire Tapper 10 and they participate to the ‘Music for Babies’ project from D*I*R*T*Y website in France.

A year long strenuous work is necessary to release their rich and complex ‘Zap Meemees’ 6th album on Sonore in 2005. Like a twin, a lighter, pop and instantaneous 7th album ‘Orochi Under the Straight Edge Leaves’ bloomed on the Polish Vivo label the same year. What other band could release a pop album on an indus/gothic Polish label? A Satanicpornocultshop tour de force!

They do their first European tour (Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Italy and France) in the end of 2005 with a climax on Prague’s Alternativa festival in front of 800 enthousiastic and frenetic people. At the end of this successful tour Meu-Meu split the band leaving Lisa, *es, Vinylman and Ugh with a sore note.

2006 is definitely opening the third act of Satanicpornocultshop. First they participate to the thematic Italian fashion magazine Uovo providing a track for their ‘Pink’ compilation. Then the album ‘Zap Meemees’ is nominated in the Research of the electronic music Qwartz Awards in France. Two new members join the band : MC Frosen Pine with his unique mimic rhyme style, and the magic organist Nakagawa aka Liftman.

(To be continued…)

© 2006 text : Franck Stofer, photo : Albane Laure

Download Satanicpornocultshop Music on: iTunes, Beatport, Juno Download

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Satoru Wono

Satoru Wono

Hyperactive with schizophrenic tendencies, Satoru Wono plays with the extremes and has fun blurring the tracks. Swimming against the tide of fashion and movements, he lays claim to the status of an “old-style” composer, although he uses the latest tools to push back creative limits. Without falling into the conceptual trap, his music speaks to the mind as well as the body. With hypnotic cells and rhythmic decortications, Satoru Wono explores the crossover paths that lead to trance.

Satoru Wono was born in 1964 and currently lives in Tokyo. A great lover of Hollywood films in his youth, he was enamored with their soundtracks. When, at university, he discovered that they were to a great extent inspired by the music of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, he threw himself into studying classical composition. However, in the Eighties in Tokyo, there was a passion for new electronic music and the young Satoru, who was becoming more and more interested in samplers, digital sequencers and other computer devices, spent his nights in the city’s coolest clubs.

In 1987, he was awarded a composition prize by the Association for Contemporary Japanese Music and started his career as a composer. After several years working in experimental music, he brought our Sweet Science and El Niño, a fusion of electronic music and Latin pop. Alongside this, he continued his research into experimental and electro-acoustic music in Sauvage and Sonata for Sine Wave and White Noise. An associate professor of the Faculty of Plastic Arts at the University of Tama (Tokyo), he teaches music and film and is the author of several works on music and technology.

A composer, DJ, author and critic, producer and arranger… it is by trawling through the abundant diversity of works that he is able to compose or produce something that shows just what he is capable of. By wearing more than one set of headphones, Satoru retains an atypical approach and a personal reflection regarding his work.

Satoru likes to recycle and integrate into his own pieces sounds that are usually used in other forms of music. Although fashioned extremely precisely, his works are nevertheless terribly jubilatory. Essential to the Japanese avant-garde scene, he is also the musical director of Maywa Denki.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Download Satoru Wono on: iTunes, Beatport, Juno Download

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YMCK

YMCK

At the beginning of 2008, YMCK took on the stature of an international group. Their first two albums, Family Music (2004) and Family Racing (2005) were both released on Usagi-Chang (Sonic Coaster Pop, Macdonald Duck Eclair, PINE*am), an independent representing a new Japanese electronic pop scene that was taking over from the declining “Shibuya-kei” movement. YMCK surprised a lot of people when they announced that they were releasing their third album Family Genesis on Avex Trax, a phenomenally powerful Japanese label with a mass market policy (Ayumi Hamasaki, Kumi Koda, Namie Amuro). Did this mean a new niche strategy for Avex? The news shook up the independents.

The video games consol Famicom (Family Computer Disk System) is known outside Asia as NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). It’s a sweet memory in the tender years of many young adults across the globe: the charm of a pixellised world of monophonic music. Today, this universe, which influences numerous artists, is known under the sobriquet “8-bit” in homage to the microprocessors of the first computers and video games consoles of the 1970s and 80s. This is the world that YMCK have set about extending. And who knows where they’ll end up with it?

Yokemura (musical programming), Nakamura (visual programming) and Midori (vocals and scenography) brought out their first CD-R in 2003. At the beginning, Yokemura wanted to produce original electronic music, but soon fed up of the techno/house fare in vogue at the time, he chose to take another direction altogether. He wanted to manipulate simple sounds and create a “picopico” style, clickety and poppy. He found the ideal raw materials for his music in the world of early 1980s video games. Yokemura was clever enough to avoid the clichés; his main influence is jazz in any case. As you can imagine, his approach has taken YMCK well beyond video game music.

Constraints stimulate creativity. Out of a limited visual and musical aesthetic, the YMCK imagination has run riot. Burningly balanced ternary rhythms support majestic surges of synth choruses. Midori adds a suave, vaporous voice and space voyage airhostess chic to the ensemble. The coherence and quality of the visuals developed by Nakamura indicate that the music is only the first stage in an ever-expanding YMCK world.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys

Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys

The Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys look like a real bunch of outsiders. They are a singular mix of good humour, electro and… mambo! Each Tokyo Panorama Mambo boy is a member of numerous projects, a true band of incorrigible adventurers: Gonzalez Suzuki, a radio presenter on Love FM and the leader/producer of the jazz club group Soul Bossa Trio; Paradise Yamamoto, first official Japanese Santa and the celebrated inventor of Mambonsai; Comoesta Yaegashi, a Japanese DJ pioneer who regularly officiates alongside Yasuharu Konishi (Pizzicato Five) on the label Readymade.

The origins of the Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys date back to the end of the 1980s; 1986 to be precise. A strange formation (2 percussionists and a DJ) to say the least, they launched themselves onto the Tokyo club scene and were soon in the Oricon charts (information and statistics on the Japanese music industry). The adventure lasted 6 years. In 1993, they decided to take a break to give some time to their (numerous) other activities. 2008 is the year of the big comeback. Like an exotic phoenix rising from the flames, the Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys have resumed service. Energy and bonhomie intact, they are embracing the dance floors once again with their sparkling made-to-measure mambo.

Mambo? Damaso Perez Prado introduced mambo to Japan at the beginning of the 1950s, first on record, then on stage when he visited the archipelago for the first time in 1959 and performed several memorable concerts in Ginza and Asakusa. Mambo took Japan by storm, even the celebrated enka (Japanese popular music) singer, Hibari Misora, put her melodies to latin rhythms. The energy of the mambo was the perfect accompaniment to the atmosphere of post-war Japan, the Showa period, “the 30 glorious years”. A veritable process of hybridisation began, which lasted until the introduction of rock.

What remains is the memory of the energy and ecstatic atmosphere that reigned over the bars and dancehalls of the capital. And it’s this energy that the Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys want to access. There is no nostalgia though. The Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys are simply worried that the music of today has become too cold. So they’re getting out the congas and putting on their frilly shirts to go out on a new mission; warm the hearts.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Oorutaichi

Oorutaichi

Oorutaichi (aka Taichi Moriguchi) wants to make music nobody has heard before: imaginary electronic folklore. He makes drifter music, strung through with expert percussion and electric rays, flowing on a river of magical chants, inspired loops and choruses written in an invented language, undiscovered country left and right. It is exalted and resolutely pop. Titles such as ‘Beshaby’ or ‘Jimaji’ sound as if they might have been composed on the edge of a volcano. Onstage, Oorutaichi is not chained to his machines but sings with them in a deluge of extravagance and colour.

Influenced by the aesthetic of the bizarre favoured by mid-90s Japanese groups such as Unicorn and Kinniku Shoujo Tai, Oorutaichi began improvising layers of sound on cassette with a four-track back in 1999, bringing out a debut album entitled “?”. The later discovery of reggae dancehall was a revelation. He completely changed his method of composition and began programming. Since then, Oorutaichi has travelled his own road through an ethno-futurist electronic land, absorbing the musical elements he comes across on his way.

Oorutaichi is a solo project but Taichi Moriguchi works with others to explore different musical horizons.  Urichipangoon is a more progressive, melodic, four-piece folk pop project with Ytamo, Muneomi Senju (ex-drummer of the Boredoms) and Naoko Kamei.  Obakejaa is bonkers home studio improv with DJ Shabu Shabu.  Berebo, with guitarist Taku Hannoda, is slightly more experimental. Oorutaichi also produces sumptuous remixes and is developing his own indie craft label, Okimi Records, on which he generally brings out his own music.

With acknowledged but wide-ranging influences (The Residents, The Doors, T.Rex and Aphex Twin), Oorutaichi seems to be in key with the same sung colourful electronic universe as in vogue international artists Panda Bear, El Guincho and Lucky Dragons. Originally from Osaka, Oorutaichi’s music is already known outside Japan. His records, Yori YoYo and Drifting My Foklore that came out in 2003 and 2007 respectively, both gained international critical acclaim (Pitchfork, BBC Radio). He opened at the Juana Molina concert in the USA in 2009. Oorutaichi’s live gigs are well-known all over Japan and he is clearly becoming an artist of international stature.

© 2009 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Maruosa

Maruosa

Charging out of a supersonic maelstrom, Maruosa performances are of a violence worthy of XVth century Italian frescos. Alone on stage, this man gives off an energy more or less equivalent to that of an entire death metal band put through the breakcore grinder. With cries from beyond the tomb and a whirlwind of hair that would delight shampoo sellers the world over, Maruosa shows that musical ultra-violence isn’t necessarily synonymous with disgust and destruction.

Offstage, Maruosa is a calm, composed young man, concerned about food and body hygiene. What he aims to transmit is positive human energy. Maruosa says, “There are many people in Japan who listen to calm, airy, ambient music to console themselves when they feel bad but I think they’re making a mistake. They should be listening to music like mine to raise their spirits.” Electroshock therapy as the title of his album, Exercise and Hell, suggests, a paradoxical transmission of positivity that finds its source in loud, chaotic music.

Music didn’t really interest Maruosa at first. He preferred to lose himself in his favourite manga (Gegege no Kitaroby Shigeru Mizuki!). One day however he heard a piece by YMO and discovered that music isn’t always accompanied by words and can be purely instrumental. He continued to explore instrumental music until the day a friend showed him a piece of software that would allow him to make his own music. He started with pop (!) around 2001 and was invited to work with 2 Gameboy players. He accepted but, to give himself a new challenge, took up the mic, started yelling into it and was away! His music suddenly changed direction under the influence of this new all-powerful arm.

It was an explosive formula. In the space of a few years, Maruosa did a series of marathon tours around Japan and Europe, appearing at Sonar in Barcelona in June 2008 before setting off on a series of concerts in Oceania. Maruosa is a mover and a shaker. He has developed contacts through organising concerts in Tokyo and even manages his own label Rendarec, which broadcasts recordings and news from musician friends such as MIDIsai, aaaaa, Ove-Naxx, Bogulta, DJ Scotch Egg and Doddodo.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

Download Maruosa on: iTunes, Juno Download

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Hifana

Hifana

Although mainly using machines, KEIZOmachine! and Juicy have never had recourse to programming and recreate their rhythms in real time, hitting the keys of their samplers without ever loosing the groove, even when they nonchalantly change places right in the middle of a piece. They also play “real” percussion and discs, interspersing their ethnic hip hop with scratches and incongruous replicas, all perfectly synchronized with simultaneously projected cartoon films. Everything is extremely well-managed, lively, powerful and fun.

 

Hifana is an instrumental hip hop duo formed by KEIZOmachine! and Juicy. In his early twenties the former discovers hip hop music through a video showing New York DJ Clark Kent create a brand new track out of a turntable and two copies of the same record. He then absorbs into mastering turntables but soon grows tired of them after learning all there is to be learnt. Going back to the origins of his fascination with hip hop he becomes aware of a passion for rhythm dating from his childhood and thus starts learning percussions. Juicy's path is almost the exact opposite, having played percussions since a very early age and getting himself into turntables and rhythm machines only later.

They both start as members of Tribal Circus, a percussion unit supporting belly dance numbers. The band often perform during rave parties and develop some kind of a fun house aspect to its show, featuring skateboard tricks, juggling and didgeridoo (hand-made out of bamboo from the neighboring bush). From that time KEIZOmachine! and Juicy start using samplers (hip hop's iconic instrument Akai MPC 2000) to play sounds other than that of their limited collection of percussions, notably Indian tabla. After years of touring the duo faces the rest of the band's refusal to develop the show's absurd and slapstick feeling further on, and trusting that their MPC and turntable skills are enough to put on a show they go their own way and form Hifana.

Hifana comes from Okinawan dialect and means "southern wind", "southern flower". Limited by no other boundary than that of their imagination, they stuff their samplers with even more shamisen and South-East Asian instruments sounds. Unsatisfied with merely mimicrying American and European underground music, this aesthetic is for them the only way to produce a genuine Japanese batch of hip hop.

They first put out a scratch record, a 12" for DJs to use in between two songs or over another tune, filled with musical quotes (gamelan, yodel) and non-sensic skits recorded from movies and television. This record allows them to connect ties with Japanese MCs and producers, but their breakthrough only happens in 1998, rapidly gathering fame with unprecedented shows in hip hop history. Though making a heavy use of machines, KEIZOmachine! and Juicy never program their beats, hitting buttons live to recreate their tracks, not even losing the groove when casually switching seats in the middle of a song. They also play "real" percussions and turntables, adding cartoonish sound effects and lines all in perfect synch to animated films shown during the concert. The whole thing is at the same time extremely controlled and alive, powerful and funny.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

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Yuko Nexus6

Yuko Nexus6

Having falling into electronic music almost by accident, Yuko Nexus6 has been able to retain her unique and constantly renewed attitude without ever having to have take the easy way out that is technology. During her concerts, she always remembers that she is a performer; with a desire to avoid her audience having to frown in front of computer screens, she adds interactive elements to her music that leave the door open to the unforeseen, grains of sand that take her towards an intelligent, living composition.

Yuko Nexus6 is living in Hikone, between Osaka and Nagoya. Part time lecturer at a couple of Art and Science universities around Nagoya, she spends most of her time writing articles for the Internet and creating music for her unique style of performance.

15 years ago, almost by accident, a sudden change happened in her career when she started making “music”, using a Macintosh placed at her disposal at her job. She amused herself by installing a simple music software program in order to personalize her computer - until the day she got fired when her employer found out about her non-productive manipulations!

Yuko is a “banpaku-kid”, a child of the Universal Exposition generation of Osaka 1970. This futurist display exhibited in Osaka remains inscribed in her memory as a witness to a future both technological and happy. Psychedelic fashion, exuberant architecture and electronic music offered a vision of the future that was both optimistic and comfortable. Today, these young people, now adults, question this technology that has penetrated the most intimate aspects of their life: where is the happiness, or the radiant joy emanating from the technological promise made 30 years ago?

Fortunate disjunctures always permit her to lightly approach such a-priori dense musical concepts as time-based composition and interactive music. During her concerts, she always keeps in mind the idea of the performance. Conscious of the unspectacular dryness of an artist in front of her computer, she is constantly inventing and adding little elements like grains of sand that derail her music towards something alive and astute.

Nowadays, she is a prolific and internationally recognized sound artist. Yuko Nexus6 has been the subject of numerous interviews and citations, most recently in David Toop’s historical survey of electronic music, “Haunted Weather”. In 2003 she received the Digital Music Honorary Mention in Europe’s prestigious Prix Ars Electronica competition with Journal de Tokyo her third solo album on Sonore.

In August 2005, Sonore releases her fifth solo and new album Nexus6 Song Book. Singing jazz, folk and traditional standards in Japanese, English and German, Yuko Nexus6 processes her voice using the most high-tech devices as well as the cheapest recording gadgets.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Download Yuko Nexus6 music on: iTunes, Beatport, Juno Download

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Erina Koyama

Erina Koyama

Erina Koyama’s songs are an intimate experience. They are nursery rhymes. And great lyrical flights of fancy. They contradict themselves. They are balanced but unstable. They combine enormous musical extravagance with the science of harmony and refinement. They oscillate, not allowing you to settle, turn into luminous droplets on contact with her voice. They are inspired by natural elements from the depths of the sea and the breadth of the sky. They are a fresh electronic breath of air.

Erina Koyama was out the blocks like lightening. In 2004, after sending a demo cassette to Ryuichi Sakamoto to take part in the auditions on his show Radio Sakamoto on J-Wave FM. On hearing the track ‘Dance with Tarantula’ Ryuichi Sakamoto fell for her music and gave her the impetus she needed to get her professional career going. After the EP Inly and the full length Vividrop which came out in 2007 on Rhythm Zone (the Avex group), her second album was released on Commmons, the label run by Ryuichi Sakamoto (also Avex).

Erina Koyama started wanting to be a singer at the age of 20. She was working in a jazz club and sang regularly with an R&B act. But she felt frustrated artistically and the experience didn’t go anywhere. She wanted to get her hands on the music as well and give herself a wider range of sounds to play with. That was when she discovered the creative potential of DTM (Desk Top Music). She threw herself into it and developed her skills over several years by a process of trial and error before mastering the tools of the trade and gaining full artistic satisfaction. Erina Koyama is a determined young woman.

She writes, composes and performs her own arrangements, taking charge of everything from recording to mixing. She is demanding and perfectionist and doesn’t simply reproduce her recordings on stage. Live, she works with an Irish harpist and a guitarist. She aims to produce vast original music with a powerful impact and light touch of Japanese spirituality. In one of her first songs ‘Hana Uta’ she talks about the temporary nature of the beauty of flower-shaped figures of sound, the simplicity of her own existence and the beauty of the sky.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Doddodo

Doddodo

This young girl from Osaka is a fury. Armed with just two samplers, her voice tears a contradictory gash across the surrounding sound fabric, creating immediate and confusing sensations. She ties her hair in the shape of a palm tree and blackens her face, playing with an image that is both harpy and sweet young thing. Doddodo unveils a hidden side to femininity, not fragile beautiful but the regenerative force of a woman child out to discover the world. Onstage she clambers wildly over a table and chair in a disquieting show where the simple act of standing takes on significance.

Then she’ll freak out completely, no control over her emotions, singing, “Sip my juice if you’re thirsty / I’ll take you where there’s something to see…”. The rage she lets rip on stage is neither conscious nor thought out, just a desire to explode. Doddodo’s power is mysterious, almost shamanistic and channelled through old school hiphop. And if she is part of a school, it’s the punk and psychedelia of Osaka that lays first claim, the city raising her profile on a cyclical basis. You’d also have to mention Boredoms, as well as Pavement, but Doddodo is constantly evolving and builds on her influences in real time.

A close friend of Baiyon, Maruosa, DJ Mighty Mars, Oshiri PenPenz and Afrirampo who she comes together with occasionally (in the groups Fantaji Nakama and HanHan Neko Musume), Doddodo is a solo project born out of a fierce desire to “do” music that made itself felt around the beginning of the noughties. She writes her melodies on a keyboard before bringing in the samples, which work as kind of rhythmical axes, skilfully dug out of material on various bought or borrowed CDs. She only started singing much later, one evening in 2006, when she was cycling home and humming along to the tunes she’d been playing that day.

Although you can hear ethnic sounds in Doddodo’s music, there’s no particular conceptualisation behind this. Where she’s at is pure sensation. Doddodo does what she wants. As effective as a right hook, her music can wind an entire audience. She’s not weighed down by particular styles or hampered by references. She’s no showoff either. Doddodo’s music is direct, sometimes slightly absurd, hip-hop as if by accident and then a sort of furious spurt.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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De De Mouse

De De Mouse

Referencing its fair share of nostalgia, De De Mouse’s electronica uses cosmic, sunset imagery to dial up the memories of childhood. An androgynous computer-generated voice rises up in make-believe praise while the rhythm section hammers out a measured march. Daisuke Endo, the brains behind this rodent-inspired project, plays out super-chic melodic arrangements live on the keys and his positively charged electric chants and iridescent orchestrations have succeeded in launching De De Mouse into the Japanese firmament in the space of just a few light years.

At the beginning of 2005 Daisuke Endo was mixing in trendy Roppongi clubs and starting to gain a bit of a reputation for himself. In 2006 he brought out his first self-release on CD-R, attracting the attention of a slightly wider audience. In 2007, Kazunao Nagata, a producer with his ear particularly close to the ground, offered to release his first album, Tide of Stars on ExT Recordings. It was an immediate hit. 30,000 copies were sold in just a few months and even mainstream suppliers were placing large orders. The major, Avex, recognised the artist’s value straight up and offered him a contract accordingly. In the spring of 2008, De De Mouse made his “major” debut and brought out his second album Sunset Girls on Avex Trax, alongside the 8-bit trio YMCK.

His first loves were releases on English labels such as Rephlex or Planet Mu and the music that he mixed then was slightly harder than it is now. At the age of about 24 his influences became broader and Daisuke Endo rediscovered Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega and My Bloody Valentine. He then began bringing more melodic elements into his writing. His “live” arsenal grew and he started using keyboards as if to signal to audiences that he was no mere DJ but a composer in his own right.

His music might have gained in wisdom over time but De De Mouse hasn’t lost any of the aggressive transcendence he has always brought to the stage. He heckles the audience without any qualms, as if to pull you in deeper. The video projections that accompany his concerts are the result of collaborations with artists such as Tenshi Iwai (DASI), who also did the video for the stand-out track ‘East End Girl’. This recent visual development seems to suggest that there is a whole other world waiting for Daisuke Endo to explore.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Chimidoro

Chimidoro

Stars of the label Tokyo Fun Party, the organiser of some of the most popular parties in the capital, Chimidoro are turning electronica on its head. With an original line-up of 1 DJ, 1 bass player and 2 MCs, Chimidoro are unrelentingly effective. DJ Funk and the radical Chicago mix of techno and hip-hop known as Ghetto House, was their starting point. Deliberate dabblers, they use schoolboy humour to transform Ghetto House into feverish and communicative second-degree electro rap.

Chimidoro means “bloody” and is a reference to a gang of bikers who appeared in Kinpachi Sensei, a Japanese high school TV series in the Seventies and Eighties. 3 young high school students, Nao Suzuki, Kusumoto and Miyama decided at the time that one day they would form their own gang called Chimidoro. The years went by and at university, Nao Suzuki got into Chicago and Detroit techno/house (Underground Resistance). He bought his first sampler and started to play around with electronic compositions.

Nao Suzuki played DJ Funk to his friends Kusumoto and Miyama and got them hooked in. Kusumoto’s cheek and Miyama’s chat went superbly with Nao’s electronic rhythms. They decided to get a band together rather than a bikers’ gang, but kept the name Chimidoro. They mimicked Ghetto House as closely as they could, but as they didn’t understand English, Kusumoto and Miyama looked for Japanese equivalents to the sounds of English words. Several concerts later, Ichinomiya (bass guitar) joined the group.

By the time they released their first album Minna no Uta on Tokyo Fun Party in 2007, the group had already existed for more than ten years. The members of Chimidoro have grown up and got jobs: they build buildings and IT networks, work on Internet search engines and do graphics for ads. Their reputation is growing but they aren’t getting carried away. The band is both a pretext for coming together among friends and an outlet for their everyday frustrations. Chimidoro don’t really take themselves seriously and don’t go all out for originality either. At the same time, there’s an unequalled freshness about their playful, knackering electronica that they know just how to put across on stage.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Asa-Chang & Junray

Asa-Chang & Junray

Asa-Chang & Junray create devastatingly beautiful music that takes our world and turns it into the realm of folklore (or is it the other way round?!). Junrei means “pilgrimage” in Japanese and this one soon becomes an unexpected and luminous journey into the surreal. En route, you’ll make contact with Indian percussion, drums, trumpets and vocal collage. Asa-Chang & Junray’s music is rooted in the Chindon’ya (Japanese street musicians), circus music and barrel organ playing and has an undeniable Sixties (the Showa period) insouciance about it.

Percussionist Asa-Chang started Tokyo Ska Paradise Ochestra but left in 1993, just when it was becoming successful. Several years later he founded the two-piece, Asa-Chang & Junray with Hidehiko Urayama, producer and composer of film music (and guitarist with the group Arepos at the end of the eighties). Their first EP, Tabla Magma Bongo, came out in 1998. However Hidehiko Urayama doesn’t play live, his amazing vocal collages all studio work. So Asa-Chang & Junray took on a third member in 2000, U-Zhaan, a peerless tabla player who spends half his time in India following the teachings of the master Ustad Zakir Hussain.

The track ‘Hana’ got Asa-Chang & Junray a reputation outside Japan and an album of the same name was released in England on The Leaf Label, to much critical acclaim. John Peel played ‘Hana’ on his show on BBC Radio 1 and in 2002 the album was voted fourth best album of the year by magazine, The Wire. It was also in the top 40 albums of the year in Mojo that year. In Japan in 2004, the track ‘Senaka’, a collaboration with singer Kyoko Koizumi, gave the band wider exposure. ‘Senaka’ was also remixed by Rei Harakami on the album Minna No Junray, out in 2005.

Disturbingly sensitive, Asa-Chang & Junray have invented a new music that is played at ground level on woven straw mats or in the middle of gardens. It is difficult to qualify, cinematic, almost excessively expressive. The group occasionally works with the dance troupe, Idevian Crew. Asa-Chang also plays with the jazz band Asa-Chang & Blue Hearts, and UZhaan can be found in the company of various different musicians, L?K?O amongst them, with who he released a debut album, Borsha Kaal Breaks, under the name Oigoru in 2008.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Applehead

Applehead

Tokyo toy-pop icons, Mayutan, Candy and Fredy are surrounded by little children. Their universe, peopled by fantastic characters and fluffy men gave birth to Applehead, who transform nursery rhymes into FM hits with comparable efficiency. Disappearing behind virtual doubles, letting images take care of the dance, they fade away into dreamland.

Since his childhood, Mayutan has been so passionate about music that she was not happy just to listen to it : she very quickly developed a taste for imitation, playing and dancing to what he parents where listening to. Little bits of naive, fantasy choreography that was soon backed up by her own recordings onto cassette. At that time, she realized that she could work with sounds, play with her voice, express herself and, above all, let out all the energy that was inside her.

As part of the discothèque family, discs by DEVO, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Jun Togawa (one of the first Japanese artistes to play the pseudo pop singer in the techno pop style at the start of the eighties) were to have a lasting influence on her. Since her adolescence, the Lolita-like timbre of her voice and her numerous disguises made her reputation from her very first appearances on stage.

A techno-pop trio

Very quickly, Mayutan found the right combination that would allow her to develop her vocal and her stage talent : a techno-pop trio ! Joined by Fredy and Candy who arrange the songs for her, by mixing the spirit of the early Eighties with the sounds of the start of this century. The trio uses toy guitars and electronic snare drums to create a strange, fun-filled universe which is specific to them.

Their live performances are accompanied by the projection of manga-type cartoons. "Very quickly, artistes from the new Japanese scene such as ASTRO-B, Hi-Posi, Techma and Yuichi Kishino were collaborating on their albums and joining them on stage. Versatile, Mayutan also produces pop music for children and her voice is often used in for advertising. However, it is at a concert that she has to be seen! Her childhood disguises have not been consigned to the wardrobe – far from it! As she says, "Applehead’s music comes from a world that is not human, halfway between childhood and the world of animals..."

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Download Applehead on: iTunes, HearJapan, Juno Download

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Akane Hosaka

Akane Hosaka

Akane Hosaka’s lunging rhythms and deliciously retro melodies hook you into a universe of gleeful wallabies, little drummer boy monkeys and motley robots; think Yellow Magic Orchestra reworked by Jacno, a Web 2.0 style 21st century referencing of the Sixties precursors of electro.

Strangely, images are the initial source of Akane Hosaka’s musical inspiration. Landscape, exhibitions and children’s books; images that become emotions which evoke the music she then transcribes. She is particularly sensitive to the graphic forms and architectural fantasy of artists such as Keiji Ito, Archigram and Bruno Munari. And just try questioning her on the stop-motion films of sixties and seventies France! It takes a true expert to catch her out on Colargol (Barnaby or Jeremy the Bear in the English-speaking world), The Magic Roundabout and Chapi-Chapo.

Overly nostalgic? What?! Akane Hosaka was simply born in another space/time continuum and has a penchant for the glory years when artists with unlimited imagination cleared whole expanses of creative ground. Same goes for her musical influences: Raymond Scott, Perrey & Kingsley and Dick Hyman have pride of place, but pretty much anything relating to the golden age of analogue synthesizers gets a ticket. Akane Hosaka has taken this stuff in, processed it and is now turning it out in an interpretation of her current cosmology. Tune in for musical reworkings of daily incidents in the life of…

Akane Hosaka is a naturally reserved performer and her concerts are rare, precious and sometimes destabilizing because of the contrast between the playful music and the austerity of her onstage persona. But here is a perfectionist, a sort of blacksmith in the smithy, most at ease honing her electronic compositions in the studio. She says, “Making sound has been my all consuming passion since I was a kid and I think about little else. Composition has become second nature for me.” She shuns strict labelling of her music, resisting being categorised as “electronic pop” and preferring to allow her imagination free rein.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

Download Akane Hosaka on: iTunes, Hear Japan, Beatport, Juno Download

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