Tag Archives: Japan

Motion Graphics has let Yasuaki Shimizu loose on Lense ahead of live debut



Remixes are easy to get wrong. Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s singles and albums were littered with car-crash remixes. Granted some on paper looked like matches made in heaven, I won’t say the parties names out of respect, and others were just tosh, I’m still angry at Tony De Vit… When I saw that Yasuaki Shimizu, prolific Japanese composer, saxophonist, and producer, was remixing Lense by Motion Graphics I hoped the results would be good. I was wrong. The results are amazing!



The original version was filled with laconic synths, macabre basslines and adhoc beats, the remix has been smoothed out and doused with a pop sheen. At times it sounds like a totally different song. This is exactly what should happen on a good remix. You should be reminded of the original, but enough should be different to make it the remixer’s song. This is exactly what has happened here.



Joe Williams, AKA Motion Graphics, had this to say about Shimizu and his re-interruption of Lense “I’ve been a longtime admirer of Yasuaki Shimizu’s diversity in music. Each Shimizu record reflects a different sensibility, he cast such a wide net. I’m amazed to hear a medley that contains fragments of Music for Commercials, Utakata no Hibi, Seventh Garden, some of my favorite records ever sampled in this remix.”



After listening to this on loop for longer than I care to admit this is becoming one of my favourite, if not THE favourite remix of the year. It basically as it all. Luscious melodies, succinct basslines, crisp vocals and a synth hook to send me off on a rapturous soliloquy. Avoid this at your peril…!









Yuki Kikuchi steps from behind the lens and delivers a slab of lo-fi pop perfection



Yuki Kikuchi’s new single I’ll Be Next To You is, well, a bit of alright. But considering that Kikuchi is a music journalist, photographer and artist it isn’t that hard to work out why. Kikuchi as he recently said of the his song writing process “I try hard to make something pure, even if people say it’s rough that comes from a person’s true feelings and not just that kind of technical skill or information gotten from outside somewhere”. This is definitely displayed on I’ll Be Next To You.



Through sparse lyrics I’ll Be Next To You is a touching and tender love letter to Kikuchi’s mother. Lyrics like “You forgot how to count the stars, Smile and say tomorrow is so far”, “You can not hear the wind song again today, So I’ll be your wind, And sing this song for you, You can sleep all day, While your life gets away” and “But you’ll see It’s true, I’ll be next to you” gets the message across without being schmaltzy.



The song is produced by lo-fi man of the moment Mac Demarco. As expected it’s full of his effortless languid slacker cool vibes. What Demarco really brings to the song is space. This space helps get Kikuchi’s themes across. But Kikuchi’s breezy guitar and delicate vocals are the real star of the show.



Given the strength of I’ll Be Next To You let’s hope there are more releases, and a long player, in the pipeline because Kikuchi’s honest and endearing song-writing warrants more releases.









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Theater 1’s twelve month single project is complete



It’s been twelve months since Japanese juke and footwork producer Theater 1 started his single series. Each month he has released two new songs. These were generally about six minutes long and featured his trademark slow tempo skittering beats and industrial levels of bass.



New single Nero is no different. Cantering beats get things going in the right direction, while a liberal use of loops and re-loops makes it sound like your computer is glitching. There isn’t much variation, but that is the beauty of Theater 1’s work. The B-Side however takes on a more ambient vibe. At just over ten minutes long it’s the longest song Theater 1 has released. Slow maelstroms of synths and ricocheting beats engulf you, until its exquisite outro brings everything to a close.



What Theater 1 does now is anyone’s guess. Will he start another singles series or will be release a full length album? Whatever he does do it will definitely be forward thinking and exciting!











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Scattered Purgatory pull out all the stops on new ambient album on Guruguru Brain



Taiwan’s Scattered Purgatory have been releasing forward thinking Post-Rock since 2014. Instead of going down the Mogwai, 65daysofstatic and Mono route, the quiet/loud blueprint, they have opted to forge their own, ambient path on new album God of Silver Grass, released on Japan’s Guruguru Brain.



Their last album 2014’s Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean, also released on Guruguru Brain, was chocked full of heavy riffs and hefty ideas. On God if Silver Grass everything has been subdued. The guitars are almost unrecognisable under layers of reverb and delay. The juxtaposition of these organic, yet heavily manipulated, sounds with the sub-zero synths gives everything a post-apocalyptical feeling of desolation, loneliness an regeneration.



Opening with Pao-P’u-Tzu, a 12 minute jaunt through dark chill-out, they are telling us “Oh you thought you’d be getting Ethnography II? Sorry to disappoint you, but we’ve found this whole different school of thought that we enjoy more. You’ll hear snippets of our old sound, but ultimately this is a totally different beast.” What’s even more remarkable is that after the initial shock that there aren’t any drums or catchy searing guitars, you find yourself being drawn in by, well, nothing. I don’t mean nothing in a John Cage way, far from it, but in between the dextrous guitar runs and bass throbs there is this level of synth/noise/effects that is nigh on impossible to ignore. When listening to the cassette version of God of Silver Grass it’s hard to tell where Pao-P’u-Tzu ends and Pathway Ghost starts, as it all merges into one via a droney throb.



Pathway Ghost is a totally different beast to its predecessor. Most notable because of its use of percussion and vocals. Don’t worry Scattered Purgatory haven’t gone pop, but the use of chanty vocals, coupled with a basic rhythmic beat does bring to mind images of sacrifice and pagan idolatry. But underpinning the whole song is a Vangelis-esque synth/guitar. It not only keep the song moving forward but also cements it in the not too distant future.



Title track God of Silver Grass closes the album with epic swaths of noise, confusion and ultimately pathos. Guitars wail, synths engulf us like Will-o-the-wisps while whispering their secrets and nonsense in our ears, trumpets from other realms play slowed down lurid versions of the last call. While this is happening deep bass rumbles on, totally oblivious to the rest of the band, but somehow bringing everything together. At twenty five minutes God of Silver Grass can take its time to get where it needs to be, and the song is better for its slow meted phrasing.



What Scattered Purgatory has effectively done is not only re-write, but re-define what Post-Rock can be in 2016. While it never unleashed gargantuan riffs of monolithic proportions, it does have subtle peaks and valleys.  Instead of using that guitar as its main weapon, Scattered Purgatory use a combination of trumpets and percussion to hammer home their message of alienation and redemption. This is chill-out for the Doom Generation!











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