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makeshift archive: neural imp

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makeshift archive: neural imp
'zeitgeist': a whole world full of (scary) other uses

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"Neural Imp" was a weekly column Andrez slapped together for Melbourne's Zebra magazine from 1994 to 2000, whereupon it changed to a monthly piece in Beat (Melbourne), 3D World (Sydney) and Onion (Adelaide). Neural Imp closed up shop towards the end of 2001.
In a fit of unexplained and quite disconcerting nostalgia, the wayward author dug up the final two Neural Imp columns he scrawled, just after he arrived in Tokyo... hmmm...

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NEURAL
                                    IMP (SEPTEMBER 2001)
Tokyo,
                                    quite simply, is remarkable. It's inspiring, overwhelming,
embracing, kitsch & cool all at
                                    once. 
Think neons, insane advertising, cheap
                                    cigarettes and
expensive
                                    rice. We've also just weathered our first
typhoon,
                                    and a second is in the works as I write these
very
                                    words - though compared with the cyclones I
experienced
                                    in Queensland in my younger days, these
seem
                                    like very tame tackers! (man, I sound like my grandfather...)
 There's a world full of things to entertain
                                    you in
Tokyo - think crazy Japanese drag shows in basements
in
                                    Shinjuku (where they dance kabuki style to Madison
Avenue...
                                    eek...), overwhelming traditional harvest festivals
located
                                    in downtown Shin-Koiwa between monolithic
apartment
                                    blocks, Irish bars full of fucked-up Australian yobs
in
                                    Roppongi... I think
                                    you get the gist. 
 In the land that gave birth to four
                                    of my favourite
things
                                    - namely sashimi, Asahi, manga and sake -
there're
                                    a lot of contrasts to devour. Fact is, I'm
loving
                                    it. Music-wise, it's downright devasting. I
caught
                                    DJ Fumiya Tanaka at the Liquid Room last week,
and
                                    look forward to Takkyu Ishino in the same venue
this
                                    Friday. Co-Fusion play next week, Bebel Gilberto
the
                                    week after... and Coldcut, Squarepusher, Tricky
and
                                    Luke Vibert hit town five weeks ago as part of the
Fuji Rock Festival.
 
Wire
                                    01, on tonight (8th September) at Yokohama Arena,
is
                                    billed as Japan's biggest rave. The performers?
Think
                                    Jeff Mills, DJ Hell, CJ Bolland, Monika Kruse,
Fumiya
                                    Tanaka and Westbam (yes, Westbam!) and you
might
                                    get a cheap thrill.
                                    In December the much-touted Tresor
tour
                                    hits Tokyo with names like Subhead, Tobias
Schmidt,
                                    Neil Landstrumm and Si Begg. Hell, even
Destiny's
                                    Child are putting in an appearance next
month.
 
Venue-wise,
                                    my pick of the crop has to be Bar Aoyama,
near
                                    Shinjuku. It's an unmarked hole in the wall,
sandwiched
                                    between grafitti and bill posters. It's
grungy
                                    and tiny, with a claustrophic low ceiling. I'm
reminded
                                    of a World War II aircraft shelter. But they
squeeze
                                    in some innovative live experimental
electronic
                                    muzak, and you feel like you're sitting on
their
                                    lap-top with them as they perform. It looks like
I
                                    may score my first live Little Nobody set in Tokyo
there
                                    in the next week or so - they seemed to dig
'Action
                                    Hero'. I've also had the opportunity to DJ a
couple
                                    of slots in tiny basements which were a helluva
lot
                                    of fun, and the vinyl here is literally to die for!
 
And
                                    that's another thing about Tokyo - equipment.
Two
                                    weeks ago was recycling day in my neighbourhood,
and
                                    you know what I found tossed in with all the other
garbage?
                                    A Yamaha SHS-200 keyboard. Not that I was
rifling
                                    around amidst other people's garbage...
 
Ramon
                                    Laboto (the editor of Melbourne's Play mag) came
to
                                    Tokyo yesterday, and we dragged him out for a
typical
                                    writers' bender that landed us in some obscure
Japanese
                                    sushi bar at 3am where the locals shouted us
to
                                    several bottles of beer (this after beer and wine
at
                                    home), then we got home and polished off a bottle
of
                                    gin between the three of us (ow!) and collapsed at
9am.
                                    Hmmm.
 
The
                                    other day we suffered through our first Tokyo
tremour
                                    that shook our entire apartment at 2am! I was
actually
                                    undressed in bed at the time, and the thought
hit
                                    me that I may have to run out onto the street
starkers,
                                    but luckily (for everyone else) it passed.
 
All
                                    up? I'm amazed still to be here after six weeks,
enjoying
                                    this place - and this week I received the
promo
                                    copies for 'Reaction Hero' from Australia,
                                    a
double-CD
                                    of remixes of Little Nobody stuff by bods
like
                                    Tobias Schmidt, Si Begg, Brixton, Zen Paradox and
Adelaide's Dirty House man Cinnaman. I just wish I
could
                                    play it - it looks fantastic but I still don't
own
                                    a CD player. Six weeks without music. Sheesh!
 
Well,
                                    gotta go. A typhoon may hit us this weekend. I'm
hoping
                                    for some cheap thrills (heh-heh).
 
Andrez
                                    Bergen
 

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NEURAL IMP (SEPTEMBER 2001)
By Andrez Bergen
Living in one of the world's biggest cities could be a formidable experience, but in Tokyo
                                    this simply isn't
the case; instead it's a place that continues
                                    to enthrall
                                    almost in spite of itself. Crappy and kitsch
J-Pop somehow intermingles
                                    with mind-bending experimental
                                    electronica, and one without the other
wouldn't quite be the same. God knows why.
 
I
                                    went to Kamakura last week, a place that reeks of Japanese history
                                    yet it's only an hour from the heart
of Tokyo.
                                    Think literally dozens of serene Zen Buddhist temples, a lush rainforest setting, a
proliferation
                                    of dive-bombing dragonflies and butterflies... and a 30 metre tall bronze Buddha statue weighing in at 121
tons
                                    that'd give Godzilla a run for his money. Built 800 years ago, it's survived a tsunami - not to
mention
                                    literally thousands of tourists clambering all over it. While I was there kids with Walkmans listened
to
                                    blaring pop anthems just as chanting monks passed by, and neither seemed effected by the other. That's
Tokyo all over.
This city is also a hive of activity, both
                                    in the local
                                    scene and in the internationals it attracts.
Last Sunday British DJ/producer
                                    Oliver Ho fronted up at
                                    Maniac Love and was ably supported by local
deckmeister DJ Shufflemaster
                                    (Tresor), while Ken Ishii and Hiroshi Watanabe rocked Zan's 3rd anniversary
party
                                    on the same night. The week before, South American chanteuse Bebel Gilberto shifted the Blue
Note,
                                    and Fumiya Tanaka's Torema imprint celebrated its own birthday with input from Steve Bicknell.
Tanaka
                                    in fact remains one of the more prolific locals. He plays every week, and his most recent album
'Unknown
                                    Possibility Vol.2' (released in Japan
                                    through Dream
                                    Machine) was licensed internationally to Tresor 
just
                                    a few months back. The other regular DJs who continue to push the perimeters are Shufflemaster,
Takkyu
                                    Ishino and DJ Wada from Co-Fusion. Lesser known bods, who are no less talented, include Hutch, Funk
Armour,
                                    Rev (Ing Records) and Mayuri. Mayuri also happens to be the girlfriend of one of the guys, Phil,
from
                                    British outfit Subhead - and Phil has now settled down in Yokohama.
 
Subhead
                                    will be headlining the much-touted Tresor tour of Tokyo
                                    in December, a tour which is rumoured to
feature people like Tobias Schmidt, Si
                                    Begg, Neil Landstrumm
                                    and Cristian Vogel.
 
Record
                                    shopping isn't easy - it never is when you arrive in a new city and
                                    you don't know the right
shops or the right places - and Tokyo is one of the biggest cities around. But there are places
                                    in
Shibuya, Kanda and Ochanomizu that sell cutting edge techno, drum'n'bass
                                    and electronica, and the range is
staggering. Think Fumiya Tanaka, Jeff Mills,
                                    Squarepusher,
                                    Dillinja, Subhead, Cristian Vogel, David
Shea, 310, Captain Funk, Susumu Yokota...
                                    hell, you can
                                    find Coldcut and Takkyu Ishino in HMV.
 
And
                                    the fact is that the everyday sounds of Tokyo are a sampler's
                                    delight. TV is one thing; the outside
world is another. There's so much here,
                                    all of it intermingled,
                                    yet all the disparate sounds never seem
to have an aural clash. Even each station
                                    has its own quirkily
                                    kitsch melody as trains arrive or depart.
 
Strange
                                    episode of the month was record shopping in Shibuya last week - I picked up DJ HMC's classic 'LSD'
record
                                    second-hand for a measly 100 yen. Go figure.

 

...and so on, and so on, and so on. Seven years of that kind'a bollocks? Sheesh.

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Andrez tries to be cool, but is actually quite stoned, in this over-abused snap...