Sunday, 2 October 2011

Guide To Japan

I’m actually surprised that for a country which for decades has had such a strong stake in electronics and synthetic music instruments and bearing in mind the abundance of music available from around the globe on-line, just how few Japanese artists in this scene I’m actually aware of. In fact the first name that springs to mind is Japan’s electronic music pioneers the Yellow Magic Orchestra probably most famous in the west for their cover of Martin Denny’s “Firecracker” (or more likely the variation of the same theme “Computer Games”).

I thought I'd add in this Y.M.O. 2011 re-mix by Translunar for your listening pleasure


Dakini themselves also proved somewhat tricky as most of the artists (including artist andlabel owner “Makyo”) are not actually Japanese. Still they gave me the introduction to our first artist on their Tribal Matrix compilations.


Rain In Eden http://www.rainineden//

Comprised of founder Megumi Rain, Kelly Williams, Herman B and Shiori Ishida Rain in Eden’s concept is simply the clash of culture in modern day Tokyo. However, they are also looking to the past and fusing together modern day electronica with the traditional sounds that would have travelled with the caravans forward and back along the Silk Road. I was especially impressed with their track “Haqiqa” a lovely organic piece which featured on “Tribal Matrix 2” and am keen to hear their new self-titled debut album.

DJ Krush

Hidaki Ishi a.k.a. DJ Krush inspired by the classic hip-hop film “Wild Style” and in the fashion of Afrika Bambaataa turned his back on gang culture and began to source the equipment to dj. Forming Krush Possee in 1987 they soon began to make a name for themselves in Japanese Hip-Hop. In 1992 they disbanded and Hidaki went solo. He has released numerous albums and singles firmly placing himself on the global map. His blend of Hip-Hop often stews Jazz, ambient and other genres bearing similarity to trip-hop.

Stomu Yamashata

Hailing from Kyoto Stomu Yamashata was considered somewhat a child prodigy playing percussion in the Kyoto Asahi Orchestra an introduction from his sister to timpanist Saul Goodman who encouraged him to study in the States. He moved New York at the age of Seventeen and when he wasn’t studying immersed him self in the avant-guarde Jazz scene.

Since then he has had an illustrious career bringing the Red Buddah Theatre company to Europe in 1972 which he both directed and composed led to composing music for David Bowie’s film
“The Man Who Fell To Earth” and the British Royal Ballet amongst others. He formed his own band “Stomu Yamashta’s East Wind Band and was also part of “Go” with Steve Windwood, Karl Schulze, Michael Shrieve and Al Di Meola. His compositions have ranged through neo-classical, ambient, jazz and prog-rock.

Kyoto Jazz Massive

Although Shuya and Yoshihiro Okino’s Kyoto Jazz Massive music has graced our facebook group in the past I must confess they joined the pile of “must explore deeper” which I never got around to. In 1994 they began to release self-titled compilations eventually releasing a single “Ecli
pse” in 2000 which led to them being signed by Germany’s Compost Records. In 2002 they released their debut album “Spirit of the Sun” and still in demand for re-mixes and dj’ing globally.

Audio Active

Again I have to confess to knowing relatively little of this band’s material having heard only a few tracks and having now discovered a discography of 12 albums. Picked up in 1992 by On-U Sound’s Adrian Sherwood (who if I remember rightly had a show on Japan’s J-Wave radio). Influenced by Lee “Scratch” Perry and hip-hop Masa, 2DD, Shigemoto Nanao and Takeshi Akimoto have released their blend of dub on Alfa, On-U Sound and Warner Music. With tracks like “Free The Marijuana”, “Weed Specialist” and “Kick The Bong Around” I guess you’ll get
the drift of their vibe.

Ones To Keep An Eye or Ear out for

Linda Bjalla

Originating from Japan and now located in Stockholm. Linda Bjalla has an interesting web-site "Fountain Of Dreams" which has a blog like format. The site features artwork, videos and other subjects of interest as well as her ambient, neo-classical and experimental compositions which have led to her vocals being featured on a track by Italian electronica outfit Port-Royal.

Yukiki Iiri

Initially from Tokyo pianist Yukiki Iiri moved to the U.S. in 1998 to study jazz and film scoring at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Her vocals soon brought her work in that area and Yukiki Iiri’s Jazz group became popular with live sessions in Tokyo clubs. Another area Yukiki delved into was ambient/lounge and first came to my attention with the beautifully mellow “Talk In The Dark” on the compilation “Lemongrass Garden Vol 2”. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve heard any new material since.

Choice label

Dakini Records

A leading label in eastern electronica from Arabic ambience to tribal breakz. As well as hosting their own event Dakini Nights their dj's regularly spin in Tokyo's bellydance breakz scene. They release both compilations and albums from artists such as Makyo, Toires, Adham Shaikh, Lumin and of course Drumspyder.

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