Thursday, May 17, 2007

Not the Sampler On Your Keyboard

This was a promotional CD for South By Southwest's Japan Nite that has been happening every year for at least the past decade. It's not for sale anywhere unless you can score a used copy at a record store somewhere in Texas. It was released sometime in the mid-to-late '90s during that spring break period when people take off time from work and school to spend a week in Austin checking out the local acts and witnessing any foreign bands that happen to blow through town for the event.

The album starts off with Husking Bee, who has already been covered in the previous post. If you haven't downloaded Grip but HAVE downloaded the music on this post and find yourself interested in the Husking Bee tracks that are on this compilation, then download their full album.

The next couple of tracks are by Cocco. A female vocalist from Japan who started her career in 1996 with a self-titled EP (Cocko) that garnered enough interest for Tower Records to use the track Sing a Song ~No Music, No Life~ in their advertising campaign. She supposedly retired from music and went on to writing but has since been involved in other musical creations with the drummer from Feed (who has also been covered in a previous post!) and other musicians who formed a band called Singer Songer.

Lolita No. 18 are described as the most famous all-girl punk band in Japan. They became well-known for their cartoony costumes on stage accompanied by crazy music and little girl singing style. They held such a special place in Joey Ramone's heart that he produced an album for them in 1997. They broke up in 2001 but Masayo, the singer, started a new band under the same name. They play in Texas very often, even recorded an album in Austin, so if they come to your town, do everything you can to see them!

The Mad Capsule Markets have been described as "digital-hardcore-thrash-punk-pop." Make up your own mind when you listen to them but they are absolutely not to be ignored. This band will not only shred your ears but they will change the way you think and feel about Japanese music. Their live set was as equally powerful as the studio tracks on this compilation. Takeshi Ueda, the bass player is the most intense and animated bass player EVER. This can be felt in his playing on these two tracks. The band started as Berrie, a tribute band to 1980s pop group BOØWY; as they got out of high school, they changed their name and line up and by the 1990s found themselves sharing the bill with the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Atari Teenage Riot. Their albums are difficult to find; if you see one, pick it up!

Petty Booka have played South By Southwest on numerous occasions and always bring a smile to any crowd. Compiling a mixture of Hawaiian, country, reggae, ska and Okinawan musical styles, their set is always unique and creates a stir in any group of people who are seeing them. Anyone who is a fan of the ukulele or just Japanese female duets in general should give them a listen.

Ryo Kagawa With Te-Chili: Not much known about these guys but the song is powerful and if you can judge the sound of the performance, it seems to have an anti-war bent. If this is the case, then it's pretty relevant.

ONTJ (Olivia New Ton John) are unlike anything you will ever see or hear. Think 1980s industrial (Einsturzende Neubauten style) and then throw in a female Japanese vocalist who sings afropop, a tuba player, a drummer who also plays saxophone, a group of tape decks, and a violinist and then imagine that band playing avant garde jazz and flowing into heavy metal with some pop and crooning thrown in for good measure. That's what ONTJ sounds like. Your musical sensibilities will be thrown on their proverbial ear...

Riyu Konaka is a Japanese artist who spent most of her time in the US. She writes "avant-guarde Fake Jazz Pop" and poetry. She has apparently recorded with Medeski, Martin, and Wood. Listen to her podcast and sample her poetic wares here.

Dub band Fishmans are characterized in Japan as Shimokita-kei music; Shimokita (下北郡) is a district in the Aomori Prefecture in Japan. They formed in 1987 and disbanded in 1999 after the passing of their vocalist, Shinji Sato. See the video for this song here.

Download the compilation here!


Stephen Lee Canner said...

I believe this particular volume is from SXSW 1998 if memory serves. It's actually the first one I remember seeing around town in great numbers. I've got the 2007 volume if you want it. Just stop by.


b3A7n1k said...

I was thinking that I may have even had it back in '97 but I'm just not sure anymore. I've been given so many CDs during SXSW that I just can't keep track of it all... I looked through all the credits to the songs and there isn't a listing of years recorded or anything but it seems that most of what I've researched says that the tracks were recorded or from albums that were released in '96.