IMP (SEPTEMBER 2001)
quite simply, is remarkable. It's inspiring, overwhelming,
embracing, kitsch & cool all at
Think neons, insane advertising, cheap
rice. We've also just weathered our first
and a second is in the works as I write these
words - though compared with the cyclones I
in Queensland in my younger days, these
like very tame tackers! (man, I sound like my grandfather...)
There's a world full of things to entertain
Tokyo - think crazy Japanese drag shows in basements
Shinjuku (where they dance kabuki style to Madison
eek...), overwhelming traditional harvest festivals
in downtown Shin-Koiwa between monolithic
blocks, Irish bars full of fucked-up Australian yobs
Roppongi... I think
you get the gist.
In the land that gave birth to four
of my favourite
- namely sashimi, Asahi, manga and sake -
a lot of contrasts to devour. Fact is, I'm
it. Music-wise, it's downright devasting. I
DJ Fumiya Tanaka at the Liquid Room last week,
look forward to Takkyu Ishino in the same venue
Friday. Co-Fusion play next week, Bebel Gilberto
week after... and Coldcut, Squarepusher, Tricky
Luke Vibert hit town five weeks ago as part of the
01, on tonight (8th September) at Yokohama Arena,
billed as Japan's biggest rave. The performers?
Jeff Mills, DJ Hell, CJ Bolland, Monika Kruse,
Tanaka and Westbam (yes, Westbam!) and you
get a cheap thrill.
In December the much-touted Tresor
hits Tokyo with names like Subhead, Tobias
Neil Landstrumm and Si Begg. Hell, even
Child are putting in an appearance next
my pick of the crop has to be Bar Aoyama,
Shinjuku. It's an unmarked hole in the wall,
between grafitti and bill posters. It's
and tiny, with a claustrophic low ceiling. I'm
of a World War II aircraft shelter. But they
in some innovative live experimental
muzak, and you feel like you're sitting on
lap-top with them as they perform. It looks like
may score my first live Little Nobody set in Tokyo
in the next week or so - they seemed to dig
Hero'. I've also had the opportunity to DJ a
of slots in tiny basements which were a helluva
of fun, and the vinyl here is literally to die for!
that's another thing about Tokyo - equipment.
weeks ago was recycling day in my neighbourhood,
you know what I found tossed in with all the other
A Yamaha SHS-200 keyboard. Not that I was
around amidst other people's garbage...
Laboto (the editor of Melbourne's Play mag) came
Tokyo yesterday, and we dragged him out for a
writers' bender that landed us in some obscure
sushi bar at 3am where the locals shouted us
several bottles of beer (this after beer and wine
home), then we got home and polished off a bottle
gin between the three of us (ow!) and collapsed at
other day we suffered through our first Tokyo
that shook our entire apartment at 2am! I was
undressed in bed at the time, and the thought
me that I may have to run out onto the street
but luckily (for everyone else) it passed.
up? I'm amazed still to be here after six weeks,
this place - and this week I received the
copies for 'Reaction Hero' from Australia,
of remixes of Little Nobody stuff by bods
Tobias Schmidt, Si Begg, Brixton, Zen Paradox and
Adelaide's Dirty House man Cinnaman. I just wish I
play it - it looks fantastic but I still don't
a CD player. Six weeks without music. Sheesh!
gotta go. A typhoon may hit us this weekend. I'm
for some cheap thrills (heh-heh).
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
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.
went to Kamakura last week, a place that reeks of Japanese history
yet it's only an hour from the heart
Think literally dozens of serene Zen Buddhist temples, a lush rainforest setting, a
of dive-bombing dragonflies and butterflies... and a 30 metre tall bronze Buddha statue weighing in at 121
that'd give Godzilla a run for his money. Built 800 years ago, it's survived a tsunami - not to
literally thousands of tourists clambering all over it. While I was there kids with Walkmans listened
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
on the same night. The week before, South American chanteuse Bebel Gilberto shifted the Blue
and Fumiya Tanaka's Torema imprint celebrated its own birthday with input from Steve Bicknell.
in fact remains one of the more prolific locals. He plays every week, and his most recent album
Possibility Vol.2' (released in Japan
Machine) was licensed internationally to Tresor
a few months back. The other regular DJs who continue to push the perimeters are Shufflemaster,
Ishino and DJ Wada from Co-Fusion. Lesser known bods, who are no less talented, include Hutch, Funk
Rev (Ing Records) and Mayuri. Mayuri also happens to be the girlfriend of one of the guys, Phil,
British outfit Subhead - and Phil has now settled down in Yokohama.
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.
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
Shibuya, Kanda and Ochanomizu that sell cutting edge techno, drum'n'bass
and electronica, and the range is
staggering. Think Fumiya Tanaka, Jeff Mills,
Dillinja, Subhead, Cristian Vogel, David
Shea, 310, Captain Funk, Susumu Yokota...
hell, you can
find Coldcut and Takkyu Ishino in HMV.
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.
episode of the month was record shopping in Shibuya last week - I picked up DJ HMC's classic 'LSD'
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.
Andrez tries to be cool, but is actually quite stoned, in this over-abused snap...