Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

CHAI – ” Punk “

Posted: April 3, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Chai is a band who screams yes to joy, and Punk is a record written in earnest about being yourself, loving your friends, and not caring about what anyone else thinks about the way you live your life.”

Chai released their epic second LP ‘Punk’  via Burger Records on Friday and the reviews across the board are all amazing! Check out the album below and see them here in May..at the Bodega Social.

This Japanese bubblegum disco-punk band Chai. are getting great reviews fresh off the drop of their new album Punk at SXSW they rightfully received Best New Music from Bloggers Pitchfork, each of their sets were boiling over with more glittering energy than seen on stage in recent memory. Pop perfection and iconic matching pink and orange outfits, like some sort of guitar-wielding collective of superheroes, SXSW convinced everyone if anyone’s gonna save us, it’ll be Chai.

Now they have shared a video for the album’s “Curly Adventure.” The band’s bassist and primary artistic director YUUKI designed the animated video, which was animated by LA-based artist/animator Sean Solomon.

But the most fun act of South By South West was Chai, the jubilant four-piece rock band from Japan who charmed the hell out of everyone who saw them this week. Decked out in fitting shades of pink, all four women sustained their grins for the entirety of their set, during which they played songs from their delightful, uproarious new album PUNK. Toggling between Japanese and English, Chai destroyed any premonition of a language barrier. Also, the only love song ever written is about dumplings.

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THE GHOSTS OF OUR LIVES: JAPAN & FRIENDS 1981-82

Hanging Around Book’s latest release (HA023) “The Ghosts Of Our Lives: Japan & Friends 1981-82” will be released on Monday, April 15th and copies are available to pre-order now. All pre-orders will be sent out on the day of release.

The 36-page photozine features rare images of Japan taken by Justin Thomas and capture the band during the pinnacle of great creative activity that came following the transitional success of their third album ‘Quiet Life’ (December 1979) through ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ (October 1980) and on to the seminal ‘Tin Drum’ album of 1981.

The first group of photographs (pages 4 to 13) were taken in March 1981 at Nomis Studios, a purpose-built rehearsal studio complex in London owned by the band’s manager Simon Napier-Bell. The Japanese magazine ‘Music Life’ had flown thirty young competition winners over to the UK to meet their idols at work. The whole band were present to meet and greet their new-found friends, posing for photographs before David Sylvian and Richard Barbieri were whisked away to do an interview on the other side of town. Meanwhile, Mick Karn and Steve Jansen were happy to stay on for a Q&A session with their guests.

Six weeks after meeting the band for the first time, Justin was front and centre to capture them live at London’s Hammersmith Odeon during ‘The Art Of Parties’ tour on May 16th, 1981 (pages 14 to  21).

Throughout this white-hot period of creativity, the band members were involved in many collaborations including a one-off single with Giorgio Moroder who co-wrote and produced ‘Life in Tokyo’ and then later working with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto who contributed as co-writer to ‘Taking Islands in Africa’ on the ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ album. That friendship with Sakamoto led to the final series of shots in this book where Mick Karn, Steve Jansen, Ryuichi Sakamoto and his wife Akiko Yano were photographed at Air Studios together in February 1982 during the recording of Akiko’s album ‘Ai Ga Nakucha Ne.’

THE GHOSTS OF OUR LIVES: JAPAN & FRIENDS 1981-82

“The Ghosts Of Our Lives: Japan & Friends” (HA023)
Photography by Justin Thomas

© 2019 Justin Thomas & Hanging Around Books
A limited edition of 250 copies.
A5 paperback photozine. 36 pages.
Digitally printed on recycled paper.

This book is dedicated to the memory of Mick Karn who passed away on the 4th January 2011.

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After the breakup of Japan, this reluctant star retreated into a series of four albums—including his masterpiece—built on noir balladry, instrumental abstraction, and an abiding sense of distance. The first four solo albums, newly reissued on vinyl, exude an intense but ambiguous loneliness. “I wrestle with an outlook on life that shifts between darkness and shadowy light,” he sings during his most forthright song, “Orpheus.” Throughout these records, he does battle—with his outlook, with his past, with his expectations. As a singer, he seems to avert eye contact, his peculiar baritone formal and serious, classically beautiful but wary of sounding that way. As an arranger, accompanied by masters of ambiance like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Robert Fripp.

Before going solo, Sylvian found himself, like Scott Walker and Brian Wilson, playing the uncomfortable role of young pop icon. Commercially successful and critically loathed, Japan were a New Romantic group in which the inventive fretless bassist Mick Karn often outshone Sylvian, the dashing frontman. Japan formed while its members were classmates in South London, and their trajectory reflects the swiftly evolving taste of precocious teenagers. When they started in 1974, they sounded like the New York Dolls. As they rose to prominence, they sounded like Roxy Music. Eventually, they discovered the avant-garde.

That last touchstone was no phase; it has defined Sylvian’s career ever since. The sound that Sylvian explored as a solo artist—eerie, atmospheric, solitary—came into focus on Japan’s fifth and final album, 1981’s Tin Drum, and its sparse highlight, “Ghosts.” Where Sylvian’s best hooks had once come from pairing oblique phrases to new wave rhythms, he somehow found power now within the two syllables of the word “wilder,” melding them together with swelling vibrato. In a TV performance just before Japan broke up, he strips the song down to just acoustic guitar and voice, leaving long gaps of silence between each verse. “This whole year has been, like, drifting apart,” he tells the interviewer about Japan’s imminent dissolution.

Post-Japan, he began collaborating with Sakamoto on singles like “Forbidden Colours” his lyrical accompaniment to Sakamoto’s exquisite theme for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. By the time Sylvian released his solo debut Brilliant Trees in 1984, his group of musicians included Sakamoto, members of Can and Pentangle, and atmospheric trumpeters Jon Hassell and Mark Isham. The album remains his most immediate work, featuring some of his most memorable melodies (“Red Guitar,” “The Ink in the Well”) and daring explorations like the nearly nine-minute title track. It’s a remarkable opening statement, indicative of the singular world Sylvian was able to establish, even when surrounded by such rich talent.

Sylvian brilliant trees

David Sylvian’s debut solo album from 1984 is now available for the first time on 180 Gram vinyl. Featuring the singles Red Guitar, The Ink in The Well and Pulling Punches, the album is now housed in a gatefold sleeve with a printed inner bag and comes with a download card. David is joined on his debut album by a stellar cast including Holger Czukay, Jon Hassell, Kenny Wheeler, Mark Isham, Phil Palmer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Danny Thompson.

“Brilliant Trees” (Sylvian, Hassell)

Sylvian alchemy

The entirely instrumental “Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities”, a strange hodgepodge of collaborations and soundtrack material. Still believing Sylvian’s appearance and cult of personality to be his biggest selling point, a video company asked him to participate in a documentary; Sylvian responded with an abstract collage filmed in Tokyo, soundtracked by new ambient compositions included here. The record is vivid and atmospheric (particularly Side B, the longform piece “Steel Cathedrals”), but it’s more like a blueprint for the collaborative work to come. This new edition—its first complete release on vinyl—makes this reissue series more comprehensive, but it remains an album more interesting in concept than practice.

David Sylvian’s intermediary album, made up of two entirely separate projects from 1985, is now available for the first time on 180 Gram vinyl. Featuring brand new artwork, the album includes rare photographs by Yuka Fujii, design by Chris Bigg, and a download card. David is joined on Alchemy by Holger Czukay, Robert Fripp, Jon Hassell, Steve Jansen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Kenny Wheeler.

The cult classic 1991 album featuring David Sylvian, Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, and Mick Karn. Also features contributions from Bill Nelson, Phil Palmer, and Michael Brook. The majority of the material on this album was written as a result of group improvisations. There were no pre-rehearsals; the improvisation took place in the recording studio and much of the finished work contains original elements of those initial performances.

Sylvian gone to earth

“Gone to Earth” is more essential. which featured one record of atmospheric vocal tracks and a second record consisting of ambient instrumentals. The album contained significant contributions from noted guitarists Bill Nelson (formerly of Be-Bop Deluxe) and Robert Fripp (of King Crimson), and a rhythm section comprising Steve Jansen of Japan on drums and Ian Maidman of Penguin Cafe Orchestra on bass

Split into an LP of traditional compositions and an instrumental companion, its scope summarizes where Sylvian had been and foreshadows his next moves. “That album was put together piecemeal,” he later reflected. “I ended up with this… incohesive collection of material that I somehow had to make sense of.” It’s a marvel how coherent it feels. Some songs border on noir balladry, like the gorgeous “Silver Moon,” while others are almost gothic, including “Taking the Veil” and “Before the Bullfight” You can sense Sylvian peeling away the dramatic flourishes that made Brilliant Trees so bold. The ambient side, featuring guitar contributions from Fripp and Bill Nelson, offers shadows where once there were songs.

This was David Sylvian’s second solo album proper, a 2LP set from 1986, is now available for the first time on 180 Gram vinyl. Featuring the singles Silver Moon and Taking The Veil, the 2LP set is housed in a gatefold sleeve with brand new artwork, including rare photographs by Yuka Fujii, design by Chris Bigg, and printed inner bags plus a download card. David is joined on his second solo album by Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Phil Palmer, B.J. Cole, Mel Collins, Steve Jansen, and Steve Nye.

Sylvian secrets of the beehive

If Gone to Earth felt like a labored portrait of the artist, then its follow-up was made on instinct. Released just a year later, Sylvian’s masterpiece, “Secrets of the Beehive”, arrived quickly. “Each track was written in one sitting,” he has noted. Sakamoto’s string arrangements appear mostly just to vanish, and Sylvian sings uncharacteristically from behind acoustic guitar or a piano. He is a kind of live vanishing act, a singer/songwriter dissolving into fog. “September” suggests a jazz standard until it’s abruptly snuffed out in less than two minutes. “The Boy With a Gun” and “The Devil’s Own” take on varied evils but resolve without a hint of redemption. Conceptually heavy but structurally light, Secrets of the Beehive seems to forecast a storm that lingers in the distance.

The album’s quick creation involved abandoning pieces that had once seemed central to the work as a whole, and it does feel like a statement with the core scooped out. This only adds to its mysterious pull. During the brightest moment, “Let the Happiness In,” Sylvian sings over lapping percussion and a brass section that mimics foghorns. Through the dusk, Sylvian prays for the “agony to stop” as the arrangement opens into something that sounds like peace. “As a listener,” he has said, “I prefer to be taken through the stages of doubt before being shown the way out.” Few albums suspend you so completely.

All of this, of course, can seem a bit bleak. This intensity subsequently pushed Sylvian to seek spiritual guidance and shake things up creatively. Following the release of Secrets of the Beehive and his first-ever solo tour, he focused more on collaborative work, from a pair of ambient albums with Holger Czukay and two excellent releases with Fripp to music with artists like Fennesz decades later.

David Sylvian’s third solo album from 1987 is now available for the first time on 180 Gram vinyl. Including the singles Orpheus and Let The Happiness In, the album features new artwork based on Nigel Grierson’s original photographs, redesigned by Chris Bigg, housed in a Gatefold sleeve with a printed inner bag and download card. David is joined on his 3rd solo album by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mark Isham, Steve Jansen, Danny Thompson, and David Torn.

These four records, then, mark a distinct phase of his career—likely the last time his work would be received by a mass audience, establishing a path toward the reclusive future he dreamed of.

In Martin Power’s biography of “Sylvian, The Last Romantic”, early manager Simon Napier-Bell recalls the young artist confiding, “I want to be a minor rock star.” It’s a humble, self-deprecating remark that rings true so many years later: His music remains a glowing source of solitude, all driven by a desire to be hidden but sought after—a celebration of all things lost and unnamed.

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Dream-pop group Luby Sparks is shrouded in mystery. Comprised of five university friends bonded by their disinterest in popular Japanese music and fascination of brooding British bands, the Tokyo-based outfit has learned to craft a sound less at home in their modern neon city than it would be, say, in the 90s UK grunge scene with the floppy-haired youth penning angsty tracks to be performed in underground venues littered with DIY punk flyers and touches of ironic confetti here and there.

Both Luby Sparks’ self-titled LP and (I’m) Lost in SadnessEP arrived this year with little fanfare, which is surprising considering  a) the current level of enthusiasm for Japanese music, b) both were produced by Max Bloom of Yuck, and c) they’re fantastic.  It’s safe to assume these kids have been on a steady dose of Loveless, Heaven or Las Vegas, Disintegration, and NME C86. But rather than regurgitating the remnants of those touchtones, they’ve crafted a brilliant debut that’s enjoyable after repeated listens.

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The shifting dimensions of Masana Temples, fourth album from psychedelic explorers Kikagaku Moyo,are informed by various experiences the band had with traveling through life together, ranging from the months spent on tour to making a pilgrimage to Lisbon to record the album with jazz musician Bruno Pernadas. The band sought out Pernadas both out of admiration for his music and in an intentional move to work with a producer who came from a wildly different background. With Masana Temples, the band wanted to challenge their own concepts of what psychedelic music could be. Elements of both the attentive folk and wild-eyed rocking sides of the band are still intact throughout, but they’re sharper and more defined.
More than the literal interpretation of being on a journey, the album’s always changing sonic panorama reflects the spiritual connection of the band moving through this all together. Life for a traveling band is a series of constant metamorphoses, with languages, cultures, climates and vibes changing with each new town. The only constant for Kikagaku Moyo throughout their travels were the five band members always together moving through it all, but each of them taking everything in from very different perspectives. Inspecting the harmonies and disparities between these perspectives, the group reflects the emotional impact of their nomadic paths. The music is the product of time spent in motion and all of the bending mindsets that come with it.
releases October 5th, 2018

Kikagaku Moyo here sound anything but lost, their child-like wonder manifested in a confident, courageous exploration of sound. Labels – psychedelic, folk, prog-rock, psychedelic-folk-mixed-with-prog-rock – do little to accurately reflect the spectrum of influences on display, let alone the more impactful realization of completeness in Kikagaku Moyo’s songs.

Kikagaku Moyo is the musical union between five free spirits. Go Kurosawa (drums, Vocals) and Tomo Katsurada (Guitar, Vocals) formed the band in 2012 as a free artist’s collective. They met Kotsuguy (Bass) while he was recording noise from vending machines and Akira (Guitar) through their university. Ryu Kurosawa had been studying Sitar in India, upon returning home he found the perfect outlet for his practice.

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Since 2013 the band has released three full lengths, an EP, and several singles. They have toured Australia, the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan extensively. Kikagaku Moyo love to connect with people through performing

To anyone who has heard the music of Kikagaku Moyo, it should come as no surprise that the band’s origins lie in hours upon hours of late-night jamming, illuminated by nothing more than the geometric patterns playing behind the band’s eyelids, resulting in a natural, free-floating sound, as of-the-earth as it is intergalactic. It may be surprising that the band sharpened their improvisational skills by busking on the streets of their native Tokyo. It may be surprising that the band’s overall sound may owe as much or more to the Incredible String Band as it does to Acid Mother’s Temple.

But what’s perhaps most surprising about Forest of Lost Children, the band’s face-melting, recorded-ritual sophomore album, is how utterly centered and mature the band sounds, especially given their relatively short lifespan as a band. Boundless though they may be, Kikagaku Moyo here sound anything but lost, their child-like wonder manifested in a confident, courageous exploration of sound. Labels – psychedelic, folk, prog-rock, psychedelic-folk-mixed-with-prog-rock – do little to accurately reflect the spectrum of influences on display, let alone the more impactful realization of completeness in Kikagaku Moyo’s songs.

Easily one of the most shimmering crown-jewels in the rapidly expanding BBiB catalog, look for Kikagaku Moyo and Forest of Lost Children to be found taking shape in the expanded minds of listeners everywhere.

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Just in time for Kikagaku Moyo’s 2017 US and EU tours in May and June respectively, we’ve got a beautiful fresh pressing in the works with a brand-new Bone & Black A-side/B-side “swirl” variant. And the cover art for this fourth pressing of FoLC will be printed on heavy duty reverse-board jackets. The band will have a few of these on tour, but likely to sell out.

These will ship May 2017.

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House in the Tall Grass by Japanese psych-folk outfit Kikagaku Moyo could be seen as initially disappointing, for this release reins in the band’s experimental and challenging tendencies, replacing it with what could, at face value be perceived as a more straightforward down-the-middle psych rock album.

Yet, like all the best records, it’s slow to reveal its charms. It teases us before unveiling its delicate and fragile beauty that is as enchanting as it is beguiling. With heavy use of sitars – albeit in a subtle, non-clichéd manner – this is a record that is preoccupied with the gentle, exploring the edges of human emotions through delicate slow-building tracks that grow and envelope almost imperceptibly. Laced with an eloquent sadness and wistful longing, it revels in a lush quiet undercharged beauty that reminds that slow and suggestive can be as overwhelming as loud and heavy.

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Kikagaku Moyo will not disappoint you. With this new release, the band continues offering to their followers their trademark psychedelic sound. If you don’t know them, now it’s the time to rectify that mistake.

As an aside, between October 25 and November 5, 1977, Rory and his band played seven gigs in Japan in venues at Nagoya, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and Osaka. Shortly after the band’s final concert at the Nakano Sun-Plaza Hall in Tokyo on November 5, 1977, the band flew to LA to record a new album which remained unreleased until 2011. The album was eventually called Notes From San Francisco. The 1977 Japan gigs were to promote the Calling Card album, which was released in 1976.

Band Lineup:
Rory Gallagher: Guitar, Vocals
Gerry McAvoy: Bass
Rod de’Ath: Drums
Lou Martin: Keyboards

コレクターズCD <b>Rory</b> <b>Gallagher</b>(ロリー・ギャラガー)77 ...

Disc 1
Track 1. Introduction/Monitor Check
Track 2. Moonchild
Track 3. Bought And Sold
Track 4. Band Introduction
Track 5. Tattoo’d Lady
Track 6. Calling Card
Track 7. Secret Agent
Track 8. A Million Miles Away
Track 9. Do You Read Me
Track 10. Out On The Western Plain
Track 11. Too Much Alcohol
Track 12. Barley And Grope Rag (Pistol Slapper Blues)
Track 13. Going To My Hometown

Disc 2
Track 1. I Take What I Want
Track 2. Walk On Hot Coals
Track 3. Garbage Man
Track 4. Souped Up Ford
Track 5. Bullfrog Blues
Track 6. Bass Solo
Track 7. Drum Solo
Track 8. Bullfrog Blues
Track 9. UDO’s Announcement
Track 10. Country Mile
Track 11. Boogie
Track 12. Announcement

 

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Describing music of great power and great expanse as “cinematic” can be fitting, if perhaps overused. When it comes to the music of Tokyo’s Sundays and Cybele, it’s incredibly appropriate.

“Sundays and Cybele” is the title of a 1962 French film directed by Serge Bourguignon, and the winner of an Oscar that year for “Best Foreign Language Film.” Conversely, “Heaven” is the title of the 2015 album from Sundays and Cybele, a Japanese band speaking the universal language of explosive, kaleidoscopic sound, for a result easily translated as both heavy and heavenly.

“Heaven” announces its intentions immediately; opening track “Black Rainbows” takes to the skies in an initially unhinged manner, sounding as much like an ending as a beginning, before a gate-crashing bass line drops us firmly into the overdriven world of Sundays and Cybele. If you’ve ever yearned to hear an Orange amp threaten to explode in a transcendent array of colors, “Heaven” is the album for you. “Almost Heaven” follows, providing evidence that Sundays and Cybele seem always to be reaching for peak experience, here demonstrated by a lead guitar break that seems to merge the differences between Ash Ra Tempel and The Dead Boys into a single, illuminating whole.

Since 2004, Sundays and Cybele has functioned as essentially the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Kazuo Tsubouchi. On “Heaven,” Tsubouchi’s reach seems to aim even higher than ever before. At just over eight minutes, “Night Predator” is the longest song on the album, one that begins with a jaunty, upbeat melody that would seem to slightly betray the song’s title. Yet there’s something in the brittle, bruised stabs of guitar that punctuate the song that makes it clear the intent here is to draw blood – or at least bare its teeth. The same could be said of following track “Empty Seas” or, indeed, of the full album “Heaven” in and of itself. Sundays and Cybele possess a preternatural ability to infuse the straightforward with a strong shot of weirdness, which in turn allows their weirder moments to feel incredibly straightforward and easily translated.

“Hinagiku” and “Time Mirror” end the album on what, out of context, could easily be heard as a melancholy note. Given the extraordinary fuzz pedal abuse of the album’s previous twenty-six minutes, however, these two songs sound like Sundays and Cybele having reached their unreachable goal of “Heaven,” before floating away on another boundless, burning excursion. Heaven only knows where they’ll take us next. Thanks to Ryan Revolt of the Apes.