@[S_WHATSNEW]@

Items

News

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.

Read more

Artists


Newsletter

Sign up

Follow us!

   

Any questions?

For all questions regarding your order please contact us by email info@jaapan.com.

Online payment

Bank card payments are encrypted and secure. We use Paybox Services and Paypal (choose the payment option that suits you).

Payment by cheque

If you want to pay by cheque (French cheques only), please print the purchase order supplied (stage 4) and enclose it with your cheque.

Express delivery (EMS)

Rapid delivery and monitoring of parcel progress worldwide from Tokyo with the Japanese postal service’s Express Mail Service (EMS).

Japan Post

EMS

Mari Katayama

Mari Katayama

Born in 1987, Katayama grew up in Gunma prefecture, and currently bases herself in Tokyo. Born with tibial deficiency, both of her legs were amputated when she was nine years old. Since young, Katayama has been expressing the relationship between her body, her mind, and the world outside, through objects, artistic performances, and photography: The intimate self-portraits, depicting Katayama in her specially made high heels, are often taken in her apartment/studio, where she surrounds herself with household goods and her own creations including the carefully decorated prosthetics. Grand prix winner of “Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi 2012”, Katayama has also attracted many attentions at this year’s International Art Triennale in Aichi prefecture - Aichi Triennale 2013. 

Read more
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

Read more
Yudaya Jazz

Yudaya Jazz

What if beauty suddenly sprang from the superposition of the video of black American singer Minnie Riperton singing ‘Loving You’ with a scene from the film of Hitchcock’s The Birds? What could possibly come out of mixing some old 45s of a child playing an analogue synthesizer with a video showing a Sumatran vegetable seller accompanying his pitch on a small plastic piano? Sensory discoveries, collisions of meaning, these are the moments of miraculous chance that the video-artist Dai Soma (better known under the name Yudaza Jazz) searches for.

Yudaya Jazz mixes and synchronises images and sounds on a set of turntables equipped to mix DVDs, also using a camera and microphone to capture performers in real time, as well as a few audiovisual effects for enhancement. This set-up means he has a palette of images and an infinite variety of sounds and textures at the tips of his fingers. The compositional work is always carried out on stage, live, with nothing repeated or prepared, because the exquisite instants Yudaya Jazz looks for can only be the product of the fragile and the momentary.

Dai Soma remembers being fascinated as a child by an old Kamishibai (paper theatre) storyteller, who improvised stories by showing a procession of his drawings to astonished spectators. Later, Dai Soma began making his own films and showing them in a cinema that he hired in Tokyo. Finding the repetition of the same projection extremely boring, he started to play with the sound effects of the films, upsetting spectators and the owner alike. He obstinately continued in this direction and sought out his audience in Tokyo clubs.

Dai Soma is a front-row spectator at his own audiovisual performances, always looking for the unexpected moment, the subtle variation that turns everything on its head. He is excited by the risk of manipulating images live, the random nature of the editing. In love with all types of audiovisual devices, audio cassettes, VHS, 45s, DVDs or MPEG files, Dai Soma is not however an obsessive collector. He’s not interested in conceptualising his art and cares little whether the results are pop or avant-garde. What counts is to bring about the aesthetic moment capable of surprising him himself.

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

Read more
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

Read more
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

Read more
Tatsuya Yoshida

Tatsuya Yoshida

A real octopus, Tatsuya Yoshida began the drums at the beginning of the 1980s. 25 years later, he has become a truly polyrhythmic monster with syncopated respiration. An initiate in progressive music from high-school days, Tatsuya Yoshida listened to Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Camel and This Heat. Although he cites his main influence as Christian Vander and Magma’s Kobaïan operatic choruses and interlaced phrasing, Tatsuya Yoshida also mines other seams to create a new, complex and concentrated style, incorporating the expressivity of prog rock, the freedom of jazz and the energy of punk.

The foundations of Japanese independent and alternative music were born in the Eighties. Tatsuya Yoshida was already playing in the group YBO2 beside Masashi Kitamura and K.K. Null (Zeni Geva) when, in 1985, he formed a duo, Ruins, with just bass and drums. Four bass players came and went: Hideki Kawamoto, Kazuyoshi Kimoto, Ryuichi Masuda and Hisashi Sasaki. With the departure of his last bassist, Tatsuya Yoshida set out on a quest for a new pretender, but abandoned his mission, unable to find a candidate up to the job. The music Ruins were creating had become so complex that electronic machines were now Tatsuya Yoshida’s ideal partner.

Ruins then became Ruins Alone. Like syrup or strong alcohol, Ruins make music that makes you grimace. Ruins is a lab of the Tatsuya Yoshida stamp, a direct interface between his brain and his drumsticks. You could get 15 rock records out of one Ruins album, just by adding a bit of fizzy water. Each composition could be developed in many different directions. Tatsuya Yoshida plays in over 20 groups; he needs to, to sustain sufficient space for his overflowing creativity.

Tatsuya Yoshida has worked with some of the greatest improvisers on the planet, such as John Zorn, Fred Frith or Derek Bailey. Today, above and beyond the Ruins Alone project, Tatsuya Yoshida is the composer and drummer both in Korekyojinn, an instrumental trio that pushes polyrhythmic complexity to its ultimate limits, and the Koenji Hyakkei ensemble, a quasi-orchestral formation that bridges the gap between prog rock and contemporary music. In his time out from music, Monsieur Yoshida compulsively photographs stones. He travels the world in search of the mineral beauty of monumental statues and the millennial energy of rocks.

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

Read more
Project Oh!Yama

Project Oh!Yama

Although they were all trained in classical ballet from early childhood, the five young women who make up Project Oh!Yama are far from being your straight up ballet rats. They have always wanted to keep a distance between their art and professional careers (to preserve the pleasure of dancing intact?). They got to know each other on the lecture hall benches of the “Litterature and education” course at the “Art, expression and activities” department, option “Teaching choreography”. So it isn’t altogether by chance that they’re doing what they’re doing! That said, Project Oh!Yama was first conceived among girlfriends, as a way of keeping in touch after finishing college.

Project Oh! choreographer, Yuri Furuie, lives to be creative. Books of images, little ditties on the piano, choreography, no matter; it’s the creative act itself that’s important. With an almost social approach she says: “I have never believed that age or lack of experience are a handicap; nothing prevents anyone from creating anything.” Her choreographies often come from sensations or images. An example: “two cornered crabs that can’t escape”. Then the girls play around with what she has given them, invent poses, try out moves. The choreographic ideas distil themselves into gestures that are then selected, discarded, repeated and put together into routines.

Project Oh!Yama shy away from conceptualisation, as if the idea of attaching words to their work would automatically limit it, throw a net over the imagination. Yuri Furuie’s artistic intention is nevertheless unambiguous: “I simply aim to produce unexpected happenings on stage and give the public things to see that they don’t get to see in everyday life. I want to wake the sleepers!” No real critical dimension to the onstage clowning there then, or at least not consciously.

Project Oh!Yama’s choreographic impact is undeniable. The speed and precision of their bodies, the faultless orchestration of movement, their liveliness and spark. The stage is bare. They ornament it themselves; frank, straight up, uninhibited, unhampered. Their rapidity is astonishing, the juxtaposition of situations frontal, then absurd. To the point where you ask yourself if the Project Oh! girls might not, by some mysterious filiation, be the direct descendants of Dada.

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

Read more
Picopico

Picopico

Picopico is an artist and creator of what are known as “kaiju” monsters. The word “kaiju” comes from 17th and 18th century Japan, the Edo period, when it was used to refer to strange and fantastic animals with magical powers. Today “kaiju” is a term that tends to be used for imaginary, usually big, animals. The word came back into usage in modern Japan after the release of the first Godzilla film in 1954, followed by the TV series Ultraman at the end of the 1960s. In the 1970s there was a “kaiju boom” on television.

While a literature student, Picopico, almost by accident, started making little characters out of modelling clay. He then moved onto monsters with wigs that he showed at his first exhibition. He slid graually into this new activity rather than becoming obsessed all at once. The desire to make things he had never seen did eventually start to take him over however. Over the last 5 years, Picopico has consciously kept a sketchbook to record his “kaiju” each day, keeping his hand in and exercising his imagination.

Picopico’s monsters are earthlings, not extraterrestrials or fantasy figures. They each have their own characteristics or specificities. Take the monsters “Beckos” and “Neba” for example. Picopico says, “The name “Beckos” comes from a northern Japanese dialect and means “cow”. Beckos is a horned monster. He and I are very close. I like his colour, blue, and his shape, nothing special, rather standard actually. But he has a long tongue, like the gods in Papua New Guinea. “Nottokaiju Neba” stinks and sticks to you. That’s his particularity! That’s why he’s made of natto (fermented soya seeds)!”

Picopico’s “kaiju” aren’t nasty. They live beyond the manmade concepts of good and evil, justice and injustice. “A huge “kaiju” can crush furniture or people when he walks but he does it without realizing, just because he’s moving around,” Picopico explains. The monsters spark various reactions: fear among children and a cult for the strange among adults. But monsters amuse and intrigue everyone, don’t they. They have an incredible power just by dint of being!

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

Read more
Paradise Yamamoto

Paradise Yamamoto

Mambonsai is a new pop culture pastime that involves decorating bonsais with small plastic figurines. Bonsais, miniature trees, bound and cultivated in pots, are part of Japanese cultural heritage. No surprise then that Mambonsai is seen as heresy by the purists. But at the end of the day the activity is perhaps not all that absurd. Much in the way you might place little plastic people alongside model electric trains, Mambonsai requires a little scenographic imagination. The aim is to recreate a slice of life, ordinary or strange, inspired by the forms of dwarfed trees.

Mambonsai won the best new idea award at the Japan Hobby Association in 2001 and the number of adepts has been growing round the world ever since. As an activity, it lightens the weight of tradition in the art of bonsai. It appeals to all ages and only requires a good dose of humour. Invented in the fertile mind of Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys percussionist, Paradise Yamamoto, Mambonsai is a portmanteau word that reflects his passion for two diametrically opposed worlds: the mambo and bonsais. A Master of Mambonsai, Paradise Yamamoto makes regular TV appearances in Japan to share his enthusiasm in public.

Paradise Yamamoto is an unusual character. Born in 1962 in Sapporo in Hokkaido in the north of Japan, he began his career as a car designer but quickly developed skills in half a dozen other disciplines. A great Mambonsai master of course but also an expert in bath salts, a critic of “luxury” eat-as-much-as-you-can buffets, a connoisseur of gyoza (Chinese ravioli) and, proudest of all, the first Santa in Japan to be accredited by the World Santa Claus Congress, based in Greenland. An atypical career that Paradise Yamamoto cultivates with natural good humour and aesthetic tastes.

Several works have been published on the elfish art of Mambonsai. Photos of these pastoral scenes are a real delight. Hole in One is of a group of golfers absorbed in the game on a carpet of moss, Capturing Bin Laden ~ Just Round the Corner shows the capture of public enemy number 1 at the summit of a miniature rock and in 2020 A Space Odyssey a team of scientists clad in anti-bacterial suits analyse huge extraterrestrial mushrooms.

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

Read more
Michiyo Yagi

Michiyo Yagi

After rubbing shoulders with the American avant-garde and, in particular, John Cage with whom she taught, Michiyo Yagi went back to the koto, a traditional Japanese instrument related to the cithara. She breathes into this instrument expressivity of unsuspected force and develops her harmonic potential into virgin musical lands. She has played with the avant-garde (Ruins, John Zorn, Zena Parkins), in traditional Japanese music groups, has appeared worldwide in Hoaio (with Haco and Sachiko M) and Kokoo, and has taken part in the album made by the pure techno pop marketing product techno pop vivant that is the singer Ayumi Hamasaki.

Although she grew up to the sound of the koto played by her mother, far from accepting its presence and sound as evidence, Michiyo Yagi, during her formative years, considered this instrument to be an object that demanded a lot of work, a prisoner of a fossilized repertoire with slight harmonic potential compared to that of western classical music.

The eminent traditional apprenticeship that she followed did not really give her any opportunity to blossom in her own musical environment: living at her teacher’s home, in the company of her co-pupils, she performed the daily chores of cleaning, washing and cooking, viewed as equally important as the lessons themselves. During the rare public performances, still be their teacher’s side, the disciples had to pay him for the privilege of playing by his side. Rigid in the extreme, this teaching was, however, the first step towards an expanded conception of music, with her teacher Kazue Sawai being the true pioneer of a traditional Japanese music that was open to experimentation and modern compositions.

In 1989, she appeared as part of the Sawai group at the Bang On A Can Festival at New York, where she was struck by a work for percussion by John Cage that shattered her compartmentalized conceptions of "tradition" and "modernity". In 1991 during one year as guest teacher at the Wesleyan university (Connecticut), where Cage also taught, she helped create several pieces with, amongst others, John Zorn and Christian Wolff, and helped in the extraordinary prolixity of the young students, whose pared down creations (mixing Balinese dances and western music) had a profound effect on her and persuaded her to write her own works.

On her return from the United States, her personal approach to composition the rules of the game that she was discovering did not sit well with the immutable teaching of Sawai and Yagi chose the breakaway route to independence. Her style was initially characterized by an unusual strength, a expressivity with a power that was almost masculine. As a logical extension of her robust finger plectrum, she sometimes has recourse to small hammers and hooks to strike her instrument’s strings, insisting on their percussive potential. This is also how she discovered the polyphonic potential of the koto produced by phantom vibrations of the vibrating strings on the strings at rest, giving rise to subterranean motifs and melodies.

The aim of some of Yagi’s research is a new form of “Japaneseness”, a modernity that is free from the influence of the West and the accepted homage, but these great plans do not stop her taking pleasure in exploring repertories that are over 400 years old …

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Read more
Maywa Denki

Maywa Denki

“Seamoons” robot singers with paper lungs, "Ultra-folk" automatic guitars and "Koi-beat" mechanical rhythm box¸ the creative genius of Maywa Denki outs its efforts into paradoxes: passionate goldworking / off-the-wall public presentations; innovative artistic pretentions/assumed marketing strategy. Like Bruno Munari, Nobumichi Tosa breathes life into his resin and aluminium robots, irresistible and capricious machines, whose vain mechanical beauty are much vaunted by Tosa.

Old Tosa created Maywa Denki in 1969. One of the multitude of small businesses that used their flexibility for the benefit of the major Japanese companies and that formed the basis of Japan’s growth and dynamism during the Sixties. Unfortunately, like many others, Maywa Denki suffered a downturn in fortunes and closed its doors in 1979. In 1993, Mr Tosa’s two rejects, Masamichi and Nobumichi, created the artistic group known as Maywa Denki.

Initially performing in the shopping malls of Tokyo, after a few appearances on television, Maywa Denki become an unmissable artistic machine. They use business words and images to disseminate their work. On the one hand, the uniform reassures the Japanese, but, on the other, the effect produced by a team of blue men wearing caps who struggle to present cranky creations is simply irresistible.

In 2001, there was an internal reorganization : big brother Masamichi, a little cranky, retired at the age of 35. Nobumichi Tosa, the hard-working and applied younger brother, was then, naturally and officially, appointed President of Maywa Denki. In fact, the concept was born out of Nobumichi Tosa’s end of study project. He created a series of instruments of absurd, fish-like design that he presented, wrapped up, to the July. Since then, he has kept his hand on the tiller and steers a course between creative work and public presentations: the Grand-Guignol aspect.

These objects are manufactured in single copies. Doomed to remain prototypes, their usage is very limited, almost nil. Nobumichi Tosa works with gold in his workshop, where he lauds the mechanical beauty of his creations that are the result of fusion between resin and aluminium. Some machines are sometimes reproduced in small production series, simplified and purified versions of the prototypes. A third level of objects is marketed commercially, signature Maywa Denki gadgets: electrical extensions in the shape of a fin, small plastic men who tap their head...

Maywa Denki’s work fall into one of three classifications : Naki, Tsukuba and Edelweiss. Although these series are distinct from each other, there are points of connection between them. Naki is the first series to be developed by Nobumichi Tosa on the theme of Who am I ? 26 objects in the shape of a fish focus on him and his relationship with the world. The Naki series comprises some of Maywa Denki’s emblematic instruments Denki with the Koi-beat, a portable rhythm box in the shape of a carp with incorporated electrical switches, or the famous Pachi-moku, a type of two-tone marimba worn on the back like two metallic wings and played by clicking one’s fingers.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Read more
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

Read more
Yuichi Kishino

Yuichi Kishino

A cross-genre symbol, in the same way as the penises, with which the young girls are portrayed on the canvases of Henry Darger, the moustache stuck under the nose of La Veuve Moustachue creates confusion. Confusion of the sexes – a black dress, a little hat and a veil as a sign of mourning– and confusion of styles, promoted by the particular flavor of the game played by Yuichi Kishino, who brings together comedy and tragedy, evening news and poetry, optimism and despair.

Public comedian, musician, cinema actor, critic and teacher at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Yuichi Kishino was born in Tokyo in 1963. His family raised him to enjoy and respect the theatre and the popular arts that were so specific to ancestral Japan.

Very active on the Japanese musical scene, he has played in several groups, including Watts Towers and Space Ponch, and directs his own label - Out One Disc – which has produced the CD Les Vacances de… La Veuve Moustachue.

For La Veuve Moustachue, Kishino dresses up as a transvestite on the stage, but, in real life, is neither gay nor a drag-queen. This is the style he has chosen to depict their scenes of predilection, such as the universal feelings of love and loss or the lack of communication in the world today.

During his appearances, he improvises cues whilst Yoko accompanies on the piano. Very quickly, this changes and gradually becomes part of the context of written songs, before regaining his freedom. These two areas cross-infect and it is soon hard to tell them apart : we do not know what has been composed and what has just been invented. It is this tension that gives the performance so much charm.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Read more
Kicell

Kicell

Kicell is a dream, Kicell is a journey, a folk pop sound to carry you to places in the memory that time has erased. Escape the agoraphobic blue skies and get down, all the way down to destinations unknown. Take the epic, lyrical stroll through Kicell’s surrealist lands. Not rock but roll, measured background rhythms that push towards emotional harmonised summits, the distinctive trait the timbre of Takefumi Tsujimura’s voice, one in a thousand, clear, fragile, delicate and precise, like the point of a needle.

Kicell is two brothers: the big one, Takefumi Tsujimura (vocal, guitar), and the little one, Tomoharu Tsujimura (vocal, bass and musical saw). Takefumi is deep, an introvert. Tomoharu is more distracted yet delicate. Takefumi was already recording his songs on a four-track, doubling his own voice, when they started playing together in 1999. The brothers’ voices are very similar and this is what gives such a recognisable balance to their work. Takefumi’s passionate love stories become experimental pop in Tomoharu’s hands and the fusion/separation inherent in their arrangements is what gives Kicell its force.

Kicell have released 5 albums since October 2000, the date when they left their native Kyoto to head for Tokyo. All have sold over 20,000 copies. The last to date, “Magic Hour” (2008), has a tragic beauty and is out on Kakubarhythm (Sakerock, Illreme). It is an amazingly produced post-pop opus, a success. Emerson Kitamura (Jagatara, Mute Beat), the discrete third member, sometimes joins them both for recordings and on stage. Emerson adds a very light dub touch to the Kicell sound and the odd melodic line that really hits the spot.

Kicell were invited to play in New York in 2005 by the celebrated artist entrepreneur, Takashi Murakami but they are still mostly unknown outside Japan. They seem to lack a little confidence in themselves, as if their influences (Robert Wyatt, Sigur Rós and Young Marble Giants) might betray them abroad. Of course, we can all be blind to our own originality, but it’s time for Kicell to leave Japan and find new audiences. There can be no doubt that reaction to their quality and adventure will be positive. Could this be the beginning of a new Kicell chapter?

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

Read more
Kentaro!!

Kentaro!!

Kentaro!! surprised everyone at Yokohama Dance Collection R 2008, by walking away with the French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographers. He also snapped up both the Audience Award and the Nextage Special Award in the Toyota Choreography Award 2008. All died hair, skateboarder clothes and false nonchalance, Kentaro!! is a young dancer blurring the edges in the Tokyo contemporary dance world. “Direct expressivity” or “crude spirituality”; the critics are still struggling to define this new phenomenon. Totally imbibed in urban electro culture, Kentaro!! hasn’t put a step wrong over the last few months, dancing in all the right places.

He got bitten young, watching the TV show “Dance Koshien”, Takeshi Kitano presenting a high school street dance competition. Kentaro!! was only 11 but made his decision. He trained endlessly in front of a video of Michael Jackson, imitating moves in front of the telly. At the beginning of the 1990s, hip-hop and breakbeat had only just been introduced into Japan. Kentaro!! found his way to the only studio in Tokyo giving classes in hip hop. Eager to learn, he also took house and lock dance classes; he was 13.

He quickly assimilated the different techniques. During his teens his tastes matured as he mined this American genre, getting to know more New York hip-hop: Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest. He also saw that he had to find his own style. Kentaro!! wasn’t an African American from the projects. He was Japanese and he had to learn how to use his own physique, his build.

Kentaro!! mixes hip-hop with a sort of Japanese spirituality. He adapts rap motifs and moves into the dance without ever losing sight of who he is. Very acute musically, with faultless technique, he projects his body into the mix. Electro, pop rock, hip-hop, he doesn’t simply use the beats as a canvas; his moves are extreme and penetrate the music like a needle on the record.

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

Read more
Page 1/2 next page >>

Powered by Rentashop eCommerce