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Archive for the 'Electronic' Category

5/25/2007

Fantastic Plastic Machine aka Tanaka Tomoyuki

fpmchair.jpg

Tomoyuki Tanaka (田中知之, Tanaka Tomoyuki?) is a J-pop artist/DJ, better known by his stage name of Fantastic Plastic Machine. He is considered to be part of the Shibuya-kei movement, drawing heavily from bossa nova, lounge music, house music, and ’60s movie soundtracks, but he also incorporates many other types of music. Tanaka was born in Kyoto, Japan.

In the late 1980s, Tanaka played as the bassist in a rock band called Margarine Strikes Back. Then in the early 1990s, Tanaka became a regular club DJ in the Kansai area, working as part of a DJ team known as Sound Impossible. While playing with Sound Impossible, fellow artist and friend Towa Tei convinced Tanaka to go back to recording music, and in 1997 Tanaka created his solo project Fantastic Plastic Machine under the Readymade Records label in Japan. His first two albums, The Fantastic Plastic Machine (1997) and Luxury (1998), were critically acclaimed and gained him international recognition. The albums were distributed in the United States under the Emperor Norton label, and in Europe on the Bungalow label. In Japan, he is currently under the cutting edge label.

At one point, Tanaka hosted a pop culture show on national radio, and in 2004 he hosted another radio show called “Sound Concierge.” He also once served as the editor for the Japanese fashion magazine Brutus.

Tanaka’s song “Electric Lady Land” has been featured on the movie soundtrack of The Girl Next Door. He has also been featured on some of DJ Stephane Pompougnac’s Hôtel Costes CD series. His song “Bachelor Pad (f.p.m. edit)” was featured on the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack. A short edit of his song “Beautiful Days” is featured on the Japanese music game beatmania IIDX 6th style. As well, “Theme of Luxury”, “S’Il Vous Plait”, “There Must Be an Angel” and “Warm Up Music” are heard in the British sitcom Spaced.

Check out his official website: Fantastic Plastic Machine

All you electronica fans out there of FPM, here are some videos for your viewing pleasure … we love pleasing you at 3yen :P


Title: Beautiful Days


Title: Don’t you know?


Title: Electric lady land

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Electronic, General, J-Pop | No Comments »

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5/18/2007

Melt Banana

meltbanana.jpg
Melt-Banana

Melt-Banana is a Japanese noise rock band that was founded in 1992 by friends attending Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. These friends were Onuki Yasuko (also known as Yasuko O. or just Yako), Agata Ichirou, Rika mm’ and later on Toshiaki Sudoh (more widely known as simply Sudoh).

Melt-Banana have released eight full-length albums and 23 EPs (primarily split releases with other bands, most of which were compiled onto one disc in 2005). In 1997, they created their own recording company, A-Zap (formerly Iguana Coax), and re-issued most of all their early albums. During this time, drummer Toshiaki Sudoh quit. Since then, the band has had different drummers helping for tours and recordings. They do massive U.S. and U.K. tours yearly and do smaller Japanese tours (the reason for this, according to them, is that travelling in Japan is quite expensive). Most recently, Melt-Banana recorded the song “Hair-Cat (Cause the Wolf Is a Cat!)” for Perfect Hair Forever on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup. The new album, Bambi’s Dilemma, was released on April 24, 2007.

Melt-Banana’s music falls under what many call “noise rock” . The term refers to music that blends rock, noise music, and other genres. Agata plays highly unorthodox guitar with extended techniques. For instance, he overlaps two different guitar riffs, simulates lasers and sirens, and has an impressive arsenal of effects, almost all made through his guitar and large amount of effects pedals.

Here are some of their videos.


Song title: Free the Bee


Song Title: Shield for your eyes, a beast in the well

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Electronic, General, J-Rock, rock | No Comments »

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3/2/2007

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant (TMGE)

theemichellegunelephant.jpg

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant (also known as TMGE) was a Japanese Garage band of notable popularity in its country of origin. Their music is known for the loud guitars of Abe Futoshi and lead singer Chiba Yusuke’s loud, gravelly yet melodious vocals. The other members of the band were drummer Kuhara Kazuyuki and bass player Ueno Koji. They have cited bands such as Johnny Thunders, The Stooges, Iggy Pop, The Damned, The Clash, The Addicts, The Who and Dr. Feelgood as their influences.

I frankly think they sound a lot like The Ramones.

The band was formed while the band members were students at Tokyo’s Meiji Gakuin University, and their name came from a combination of the name of Billy Childish’s offbeat band Thee Headcoats and a former bassist’s mispronunciation of the name of The Damned’s album, Machine Gun Etiquette.

Their first major label release, Wonder Style, was released in 1995, and produced in London, United Kingdom, by Chris Brown, who previously engineered albums and tracks for Radiohead and Pink Floyd. The band was later spotted by The Brian Jonestown Massacre during a gig in Los Angeles. They were so impressed by the band that they told Alive Records owner Patrick Boissel about them, who then sought them out and signed them to his label. This led to the American release of Gear Blues in 2000, an album which had already proved to be their breakthrough album having sold 4 million copies worldwide.

Around 2002, vocalist Chiba Yusuke and Blankey Jet City bassist Terai Toshiyuki formed ROSSO, which is currently active. The band announced that they would break up on October 11, 2003, after their Last Heaven tour of Japan.

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant frequently used the The Godfather theme song as opening during their shows.

You can go to their English fan page by Troy Johnson

and their VH1 bio for more information about the band.

Here are some of their videos:


Candy House


Thunderbird Hills


Lily

Source: Wikipedia

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Electronic, General, J-Rock | No Comments »

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1/8/2007

Hey, Kouhaku! Bounce with me!

Remember last year I told you about Kouhaku Uta Gassen, the annual music contest held on New Year’s Eve between male and female artists? Well, 2006’s Kouhaku, as Taro reported, turned into the Japanese Nipplegate when kitschy hip-hop/R’n'B artist DJ OZMA had apparently topless girls dancing to his song “Bounce With Me”.

DJ OZMA

For the finale, the girls pulled off their skimpy G-strings to reveal little mushroom “penises” – the DJ OZMA logo. NHK received over 250 compaints and the producers were quick to point out that the girls were wearing body suits. Admittedly, I could only tell they were body suits after looking at the high resoultion close-ups Taro posted. It might be interesting to note that despite that debarcle, the White team (men’s team) won Kouhaku that night.

Anyway, Taro posted video, take a look at it quickly because it might get pulled down like other Japanese copyrighted material. I wanted to post a bit about DJ OZMA himself, because very little is known about him. People aren’t even sure how old he is. His official profile carries on about Taiwanese and Korean music scenes, and apparently how much of a hit he was there. There is a theory currently doing the rounds that he is in fact Sho Ayakouzi from a “Yankee” rock group called 氣 will 團.

He seems to have appeared on the music scene in 2006, dancing like a loon and chanting half-English, half-Japanese songs. The lyrics are silly and predictable, the costumes (particularly the blonde afro) are outrageous and the behaviour is very lewd. He’s basically a joke, much like Hard Gay. In fact, in the short time he’s been on the scene, people like Ayumi Hamasaki and martial arts fighter Akihiro Gouno have been impersonating him.

His first album “I ♥ PARTY PEOPLE” was released in late November, so expect more kitsch in the future, especially after all that free promotion he got after Kouhaku.

DJ OZMA's first album

Links:
EMI’s official website for DJ OZMA (Japanese only)
DJ OZMA’s official site (Japanese only)


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6/28/2006

Delaware

Delaware is….bizarre. They aren’t a band so much as a….group. Really. A group of creative people that work together to make everything from music to magazines to mobile phone art.

To quote their website (another example of how bizarre they are. The text formatting can best be described as ‘decorative’ and the letter ‘t’ is always replaced with the plus sign), Delaware are “A japanese super sonic group, designs_musics and musics_designs” (sic).

The music is quite funky though. Very electronica, think Polysics. Sadly, they haven’t released any albums since 2004 – they seem to be focusing more on the design aspect of their group. But their songs can be previewed on their website and the albums can be bought, albeit through an interesting webform and their PayPal address.
Photo from delaware.gr.jp
Delaware are (taken from the website):
Masato Samata (tape recorder, vocals, lyrics, composition, text, art direction and design)
Aya Honda (bass guitar, vocals, composition and design)
Morihiro Tajiri (guitar, bass guitar, drums, vocals, text-to-speech, recoreded, mixed and composition)
Yoshiki Watanabe (guitar, vocals, sound programming, ringer phone and composition)
Link:
Delaware’s official website (strange English and Japanese)

Posted by Chidade in Electronic | No Comments »

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4/24/2006

POLYSICS

One of the few Japanese bands that the West is likely to have heard is POLYSICS, a bizarre new-wave-synth-pop-electronica-trippy-happy group from Tokyo. They appeared, in their futuristic, gimmicky outfits on the BBC Three show “Adam and Joe Go Tokyo” but now they are probably best known for writing the theme song for the American cartoon “Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!”.

The band formed in 1997 with Hiroyuki Hayashi (guitars, vocals, vocoder, programming[?!]) who is a big fan of the classic American new-wave group Devo. Polysics has since expanded and now includes:
Kayo (synthesizers, vocals, vocoder)
Fumi (bass, vocals, synthesizers)
Yano (drums)

They are great fun to listen to, and are meant to be amazing when performing live. They are regular festival performers and they’ll be at this year’s Fuji Rock festival.

They tour in the UK and the US occassionally, and they have released their CDs there. The ‘best of’ CD “POLYSICS OR DIE” is a good place to start.

POLYSICS
POLYSICS! OR DIE!

Links:
POLYSICS official website (in English)
Wikipedia article on POLYSICS
YouTube videos of POLYSICS

Posted by Chidade in Electronic | No Comments »

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4/17/2006

Fuji Rock Festival

FUJI ROCK FUJI ROCK FUJI ROCK FUJI ROCK! Sweet googlymoogly YES! I can’t wait for this festival. The Fuji Rock Festival – Japan’s largest outdoor festival – gets in excess of 100,000 attendees and attracts big-name international acts. This year’s lineup include Franz Ferdinand, The Hives, Jet, Mogwai, The Scissor Sisters and this little band you may have heard of, known as Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Sweet googlymoogly YES!

But there’s also plenty of Japanese bands to go with the internationals. I’m looking forward to Asian Kung-Fu Generation, personally.

It’s a three-day weekend festival where you camp (or hotel, if you’re that type) in the forests of Niigata prefecture. Niigata isn’t actually anywhere near Mt Fuji as the name suggests. The festival used to be held near Fuji but was nearly destroyed by a typoon in its first year. Hence, it’s new, permanent home in Niigata. It makes for an excellent weekend out in the Japanese summer, with slight relief from the heat of Tokyo in the last weekend of July.

Now’s the downside…the three day pass is ¥39,800 (about US$400), or ¥16,800 for one of the 10,000 one-day passes sold each day. Add an extra ¥2,500 for camping, and ¥2,000 per day car park. The shinkansen there is another ¥6,000 or so, depending on where you’re travelling from. Then there’s food, souvenirs, alcohol…

It’s an expensive weekend out, for sure. But it’ll be a festival you’ll never forget, either.

Fuji Rock Festival

Links:
Fuji Rock Festival – official page in English
Wikipedia article on the Fuji Rock Festival


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1/9/2006

Karaoke

As you all know, karaoke is the art of getting up in front of other people and singing along with recorded music while the lyrics flash on a television screen. This is done generally whilst drunk and often causes people to make fools of themselves. The word karaoke is made up of two words that mean “empty orchestra” – clever, no?

In the West, karaoke is generally available in pubs or bars on a certain night each week. There is one stage, one TV and one performance at a time in front of the entire room. This is a far cry from the karaoke culture of Japan.

While it is possible to find an izakaya (a type of Japanese bar) that has only the one stage and where the participants perform in front of the entire bar, there it would be a nightly event, not weekly. However, most karaoke is performed in tiny booths, known as a karaoke box.

There are thousands of karaoke box buildings in Japan. People book the room and pay based on how long they stay. The number of people squashed into a box can be as few as one lonely person who had missed the last train home to 20 raucous drunks screaming loud enough to hear them in the booth next door. Each karaoke box venue is different.

The machines are huge computers with up to a terabyte of hard disk space holding music and videos. On a side note, can anyone tell me if there is a special school where you learn how to make karaoke videos? They’re so awful and cheesy, it must take a special skill. Anyway, these karaoke machines have plenty of English songs to keep gaijin occupied. There’s also generally a good selection of Korean and Chinese songs as well.

Some karaoke boxes, if you’re lucky, have nomihodai – that is, all you can drink specials. Some venues also have a food or dessert menu.

All in all, from 100 yen per half hour, karaoke makes for an incredibly amusing, fun and above all, alcoholic night out.

Source:
Wikipedia

Posted by Chidade in Electronic, General, Instruments | No Comments »

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4/1/2005

Become a (Pop/Rock) Star in Japan!

Sony Music Japan International Audition

It does sound like an April’s fool but it is just an odd starting date for a real event: for the first time ever, Sony Music Entertainment Japan is hosting an “International Audition”. What it means is that the Japanese branch of Sony Music is looking for foreigners to spice up their catalog. Not just models, they are actually open to all kinds of talents, from musicians, to bands, to TV talents. It seems everyone is invited to apply and try their chance to become a star.”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” meets Show Business!It isn’t rare for Japanese entertainment companies and music labels to host big public auditions like that, and many successful artists have been found through these. Not only interpreters, but also composers, writers, and all-round music artists. What makes this audition different however is that this time, Sony Music is targetting gaijin! And not just fluent Japanese-speakers either: English speakers, Chinese, Koreans, the scope is large and the possibilities seem infinite. Participants from any nationality, sex and age are welcome.

Because of its size, Sony Music is interested in all kinds of profiles, and any musical genres. And the best part is that you can enter from anywhere, inside or outside from Japan.

If you don’t have any recordings, you can apply without sending a demo. You can also submit your homepage’s URL if it has your music and profile online. In fact, you can even enter if you don’t have any musical experience (“we welcome applications from anyone wishing to become a musical artist”). Cover songs are ok too, and to make sure every singer has a chance to get noticed, they even accept submission of demos recorded at a karaoke…

Models are welcome too (“we have some model management groups within Sony so models are also welcome”), but fear not: someone with a better look will not be given priority (“it is important for those who want to become a model or TV talent to have charisma and a unique look. However, for musical artists, the look won’t affect our decision”).

Also notable are the facts that the audition is free (“no fees required for application, screening, or any matters thereafter”), and if you get chosen, you don’t have to worry about money either (“Sony Music will bear all the costs involved in developing you career. If you need lessons, for example, Sony Music will take care of all the lesson fees.”).

Regarding copyright issues, Sony Music will not re-use your original content afterwards (“application materials will not be used for any purposes other than screening”). You will also keep the rights of your songs (“If Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc wants to release one of your songs, we will discuss and make a contract with you before releasing it”).

The audition starts today and end on May 31st, 2005.

More details on the requirements, address etc. on the official Sony Music Japan website


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3/21/2005

alva noto + Ruyichi Sakamoto = “insen”

alva noto and Ruyichi Sakamoto - insen

The minimalist label raster-noton has just released a new “clear series” CD with a collaboration between alva noto and Ruyichi Sakamoto, called “insen”.

From their website:

with insen, alva noto (aka carsten nicolai) and ryuichi sakamoto continue their collaboration which started with vrioon. The debut album released on raster-noton in 2003 was voted record of the year 2004 in the electronica category by british magazine the wire. particular interest was shown in nicolai’s creation towards a new synergy of acoustic piano and digital post production that had not witnessed before, in his approach and interpretation of sakamoto’s piano clusters.

the strict splitting of the composition process on this record (piano: sakamoto; production and additional sounds: nicolai) reminds one of the debut album. however, insen carries a kind of transcendental aura of an early morning meditatory exercise – but at the same time avoiding the field of new age philosophy. enriched by new elements, this high-tech meditation follows a consistent line.

on vrioon, nicolai’s typical sinus sounds counterbalanced sakamoto’s piano accords. now, on insen nicolai works directly with the piano sounds. he dismantles sakamoto’s recordings with a surgeon-like precision into micro loops, into its atomic elements. starting with these atoms of sound, he creates a new basis for form, compressing floating rotating rhythm with harmonic sequences, with melodic counterpoints, and laying it underneath the piano tracks. this makes insen appear more of a complex experience, although the time-stretched flow, or even the clear lines of the piano stay untouched.

from the sleeve notes one can learn that the album was a dedication to a certain people. created far away from these people, insen might be a kind of dialogue. It definitely represents a diary of a stay over several month at leon feuchtwanger’s villa aurora, where a large part of the production as well as the final mixes were completed. the themes and the track titles directly refer to that place, to the times of the day, and the events there. even the colours of the album cover associate the emotions and atmosphere experienced at villa aurora.

only the track berlin was recorded later, with nicolai and sakamoto together, during a session at nicolai’s studio in berlin. as a reference to that place, one can hear a flock of birds singing in the background of the recording.

aveol closes the album also seen as a diary, with a mysterious beauty. the evolution of piano recording and digital post production were pushed the furthest on this track. the combination reached its (temporary) final point.

For further information and beautiful samples in mp3, go to www.raster-noton.de

Posted by Yves in Composers, Electronic | 1 Comment »

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