Back from the hospital and laying down dope beats

November 23rd, 2017

So this weekend I found out that if you’re six and a half feet tall and…not thin, and rush to the Japanese hospital complaining of shortness of breathe and chest pains, they see your giant ass immediately, because no one in the country will be able to pick you up off the floor.

I was fine, by the way, ended up just being some weird bronchial infection. But that’s why I was MIA for a bit. But I’m back! I’m not dead, I feel happy.

Well, that’s not true, look at the news, but I’m back to normal at least and ready to post obscure music no one cares about so let’s get to it.

Arrested Development
United Front (Noises In My Attic Remix)
United Front (Acapella)
Fun fact, Speech from Arrested Development is big in Japan. Seriously, he plays solo shows here in respected (if not large) venues that usually sell out. He’s the Mr. Big of hip-hop.

I have no idea why this is. In fact, I always wonder how/why any hip-hop artist makes it big in Japan in any capacity. Rap is such a lyrical medium, and if you don’t understand the lyrics, there’s no way you can get as much out of it. Lyrics are obviously important in other forms of music too, but let’s be honest, you don’t need to understand the meaning of a song like, let’s say “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” to really appreciate it.

I think that explains, at least in part, why some acts make it big in Japan though. In my time here, I’ve noticed that really technically-proficient acts, like Mr. Big, Steely Dan, and Asia have large followings here, while more famous Western artists known primarily for their lyrics and songwriting, such as Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen, are barely ever mentioned here. The language barrier makes appreciating their music much harder. Of course, Bob Dylan is really popular here so what the fuck do I know?

Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock
Joy And Pain (World To World Remix)
Joy And Pain (No-Rap-Attack-Dub-Track)
Joy And Pain (Rob-A-Pella)
I don’t think that Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock are exceptionally more popular here than they are back in the states, but I could be wrong.

Acid House Dollfuckers

November 11th, 2017

Any of your heroes, idols, or creative inspirations get accused of gross sexual misconduct yet? Don’t worry, we still got a month and a half or so left in this year. Anything goes.

This is the upside to only caring about hyper-obscure bullshit that no one else in their right mind would care about. I’m not saying my musical idols and/or favorite filmmakers are saints; I’m saying that they’re all so irrelevant that no one is going to bother doing an expose on their alleged disturbing behavior. With how horrible the past two years have been, sometimes I willingly embrace ignorance for even the slightest bit of bliss.

Anyways, apropos of nothing, some songs about fucking a doll.

Lords of Acid
Rubber Doll (Latex Love Bazaar Mix)
Rubber Doll (My, But You’re A Fine One Mix)
Rubber Doll (I Love It When you Squeak Mix)
Rubber Doll (Do You Mind If We Dance With Yo’ Dates Mix)
Rubber Doll (Back Off The Bitch Is Mine Mix)
I actually found this single in Japan and bought it in a heartbeat. As I’ve lamented before, it’s really hard for me to find the kind of 12″ singles I like to buy – unnecessary remixes by now-irrelevant B-grade pop acts – in this country, so I was pretty stoked by this find.

Did “Rubber Doll” need five remixes? No. No it did not. But I’m certain that it no doubt that there are various 2×12″ promo singles and various CDs out there that feature even more remixes of the track. Because 90s.

Also, holy hell those are some bad remix titles.

German Electronic Avant-Garde Jazz Funk Fusion Top 40 Hits

November 7th, 2017

Blue Box – Captured Dance Floor
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now, simply because it’s so weird that I didn’t know what exactly to do with it. As some have mentioned (with varying degrees of tact and politeness) my musical tastes have branched out a bit lately. But this one is out there even for me. It’s mental.

Okay, so what the hell am I talking about? Captured Dance Floor by Blue Box, originally released in 1989 in the group’s native country of Germany. In what little I can find on it online, it’s often categorized as jazz fusion, but I feel that categorization is wildly inaccurate. You say jazz fusion, and I think Steely Dan, Gong or Brand X. I think jazzy rock with an abundance of horns. I don’t think sparse mechanical beats overlaid with maniacal saxophone melodies, because that’s what this album is.

I get a bit of a Was (Not Was) vibe from this, but even far less commercial than that group’s most avant-garde mindfucks. But if there was an instrumental b-side to “Hello Operator…” it would’ve been a track from this record.

It’s hard to find much information on these guys in English, but I was able to dig up a bit. The group is a trio, featuring Alois Kott, Peter Esold, and Rainer Winterschladen. The first two were previously in a group called Contact Trio, who discogs describes as “on the more avant-garde end of jazz-rock.”

In the snippets of their first two records that I’ve found, Blue Box started out not all that different from Contact Trio, a bit more upbeat with some electronic drums thrown in, but definitely more jazz than anything else. This album is much different. I suspect that between their 1985 release and this one, someone in Blue Box discovered Art of Noise. The minimal jazz textures, trumpet and bass, are mixed in with seemingly random sound effects and vocal distortions.

It is just out there, man. And I’ll be 100% honest; I really have to be in the right headspace to hear this stuff. When I’m stressed out or a little under the weather, this actually makes me a little sick to my stomach. The ways it defies convention and traditional song structure are actually unnerving to me.  But when I’m willing to roll with it and let it overtake me, I find a lot to enjoy. I appreciate the combination of electronic loops with acoustic rhythms. I like how it sounds so alien that I, at times, can’t tell what’s a sample and what’s live. I really dig how it even sounds almost industrial at times, quiet a feat considering how sparse most of it is. A dissonant sax and a few random crashing samples go a long way I suppose.

Is this for everyone? Definitely not. Is it for most people? No. But is it worth at least one listen? Without question. Give it a try, and let me know what you think of it in the comments.

Oh and that cover holy shit.

Rain with Beck

November 1st, 2017

I wasn’t washed away in the typhoon last week, so I guess I got that going for me. Funnily enough, I actually got to work early, with every single train running perfectly on time somehow. Of course, once I got there, my sole student for the day canceled and I just had to head back home.

Doubly of course, that’s when all the trains decided to shit the bed and leave me stranded halfway between my work and my home for half an hour.

Who could’ve predicted that? Oh yeah, that’s right – me. I predicted that.

I’d like to say that “making your employee trudge to work in a motherfucking typhoon for a customer who surely won’t come” is a specifically Japanese business trait, but we all know that fucking over the working man is an international tradition.

Mixed Bizness (Cornelius remix)
Mixed Bizness (Nu Wave Dreamix by Les Rythmes Digitales)
Mixed Bizness (DJ Me DJ You)
Mixed Bizness (Dirty Bixin Mixness Remix by Bix Pender)
Dirty Dirty
Saxx Laws (Night Flight to Ojai)

I posted a lot of these tracks before, eons ago and on a substandard vinyl ripping setup. These versions are taken from a CD-single I bought last week. So if you happen to have to old versions I shared back in 2011 and 2012, respectively, you’re gonna wanna download these regardless.

Beck is coming to Tokyo next month, but I will be skipping that show. I’m sure his new album is fine, I think it’s gotten good reviews, but I just don’t care. Until he announces a Midnite Vultures anniversary show where he plays that album from start to finish, count me out.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again and again), Midnite Vultures is Beck’s best work ever. Neo-funk classic. Sea Change? Fuck that shit. That’s mopey sad bastard bullshit for mopey sad bastards.

The Klaxons
Golden Skans (Sebastian Remix)
Golden Skans (Surkin Remix)
Golden Skans (Erol Ekstra Special Remix)
One day I am going to buy another album by this group I mean it. Judging on how quickly I’ve moved on these impulses in the past, I suspect “one day” will come by approximately 2028. Give or take.

I’ll Go To Work By Dolphin

October 21st, 2017

I get to go to work tomorrow in a typhoon. How’s your weekend?

Gary Numan
We Need It
These tracks were on CD at some point, they were included on the re-issue of Numan’s 1985 album The Fury. But that re-issue has been out-of-print for over 15 years at this point, and the tracks aren’t online in any capacity where you can actually buy them, so fuck it.

I don’t own The Fury, the common narrative regarding Numan is that you should best avoid anything he put out from 1983 to 1993, but I do enjoy these tunes. Very darkwave minimal stuff with Numan’s trademark moan working well to tie it all together. And the vinyl I ripped them from is bright neon orange! See?


St. Vincent
Power Corrupts (政権腐敗)
This one might get me a cease and desist but fuck it. Can anyone outside of Japan buy it? No.

This is the Japanese bonus track to St. Vincent’s newest album, the excellent MASSEDUCTION. It’s a re-working of the the title track, that features new vocals by Toko Yasuda, whose been in a few bands over the years. It’s a pretty radical reworking, with Yasuda’s vocals at the forefront. The only vocals by St. Vincent that remain are in the chorus.

Like I said, MASSEDUCTION is a great album and further proof that St. Vincent is a dope as fuck. Pick it up if you can, and even if you hate this track, give other songs from the a chance, this one really isn’t representative of the album as a whole.

Les Daylight
Tango For Cats
I almost posted this full album, don’t fucking tempt me.

I have no idea what this is, by the way. But I did pay $20 for the vinyl. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Megagay Megatone Megamixes

October 12th, 2017

Back to my regularly scheduled programming of unloading all the stuff I ripped to my computer before I moved to Japan. Now for some gay shit.

DJ Frank Schmidt
Megatone Records Greatest Hits Mix Side 1
Megatone Records Greatest Hits Mix Side 2

Tracks from Megatone work well in the megamix format, as nearly all of them kind of sound the same in the best way possible. I wish that the Megatone style of Hi-NRG disco had caught on more in the mainstream. I know it had an influence, you can hear elements of Cowley’s production work in tracks by artists like Erasure and Pet Shop Boys, but I feel that neither of them really captured the essence of the vintage Megatone sound. The Pet Shop Boys are often too subdued and/or depressed to be really Hi-NRG, while Erasure…I don’t know, they sound hella gay and camp, but not hella gay and camp enough. I guess no one can top Sylvester in that department.

Sylvester is on both of these mixes, alongside several other Megatone mainstays, the full tracklist for both mixes are as follows:

Side A

  1. Patrick Cowley – Mind Warp
  2. Sarah Dash – Lucky Tonight
  3. Sylvester – Do Ya Wanna Funk
  4. Modern Rocketry – (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
  5. Patrick Cowley – Megatron Man
  6. Magda Layna – When Will I See You Again

Side B

  1. Sylvester – Don’t Stop
  2. Earlene Bentley – Boys Come To Town
  3. Le Jete – La Cage Aux Folles
  4. Scherrie Payne – One Night Only
  5. Queen Samantha – Close Your Eyes
  6. Sylvester – Hard Up

Modern Rocketry’s version of “Stepping Stone” is really great, and both the Sylvester and Cowley tracks are, of course, out of the park fantastic. There really isn’t a weak track on either side of this one. All killer no filler for sure. If you download these mixes and enjoy them, I highly recommend checking out the Megatone Records collections that are currently on sale at iTunes. They have the 12″ mixes to all kinds of amazing tracks, including “Do You Wanna Funk,” “Right On Target,” Low Down Dirty Rhythm” and many others. Essential listening for dancing in the meat-packing district of NYC circa 1981, or, y’know, a really good workout mix.

Music From The 21st Century That Never Happened

October 9th, 2017

Sorry for the break in posts for the past two weeks. I got sidetracked with a horrendous disease! Actually, it was just tonsillitis, but it sure a fuck stuck for a while and really put a damper on my plans. Additional strife was caused by the antibiotics I was prescribed, which side effects included anxiety attacks and insomnia, making for a fun Monday night, I tell you that.

I did use the day off work to do at least one productive thing, however; I finished the sixth part of my YMO guide! This part covers the various acts in the YMO family, like Jun Togawa, Kenji Omura, and a lot of other awesome artists I’ve mentioned here in the past. Check it.

Then check out this crazy spacey music from the fuuuuuture*

*actually 1982

Music From The 21st Century

Remember when “the year 2000” had such a mystical ring to it and we all imagined that we’d be in flying cars, eat food out of capsules and wear skintight clothing is superfluous circles on them? Ah, nostalgia for a future that never came to be. Even though I was only a wee lad in the first half of the 80s, I remember that the idea of “futuristic music” back then meant “a shitload of keyboards.” That, and probably silver jumpsuits.

Music From the 21st Century is a compilation of space-aged electronic music, stuff that sounded very futuristic at the time, although I wonder if anyone aside from four-year-old me really thought that the music of the coming millennium was really going to sound all that different.

While I do think that the actual music of the 21st century has turned out alright, I’m sad that a future where this stuff was the mainstream never became a reality. Imagine a world where 20 minute ambient soundscapes were top 20 hit singles instead of Katy Perry?

Note: I’m not sharing side one of this, which is basically just one Tangerine Dream track that’s in-print and easy to get.

Alex Cima
“Primera” is from Cosmic Connection, Alex Cima’s 1979 debut record. I’ve never seen this one in the wild, but from what I’ve heard on YouTube, it seems like my thing; part experimental electronica, part disco, part synthpop. My jam all the way. “Primera” is an okay tune, a bit too jazzy for my tastes, but “Lithium” is really top notch stuff. Rolling sequences, random space noises, a fast-paced beat, it sounds like Tangerine Dream on speed. Throw in some alien voices made via a vocoder, and it really sounds like music from the “the future.” Totally rad all the way.

Cima’s released three other albums, ranging from easy listening jazz to more experimental fair, but I think this stuff may be his best. Too bad it’s so hard to find.

Steve Roach
Steve Roach likes Tangerine Dream, and it shows with his contribution to the record. If you told me this was a Tangerine Dream track, I’d believe you. Thankfully for Steve, it sounds like a good Tangerine Dream track. It could’ve been a B-side to the Thief soundtrack or something.

Steve Roach is actually a very talented and well-respected name in the ambient music scene, with a career that continues to this day with over 100 proper albums, so I don’t mean to sound flippant. He obviously carved a very successful niche for himself that went far beyond “dude who likes Tangerine Dream.”

Don Preston
On The Throne Of Saturn
Don Preston was a founding member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. So it should come as no surprise that the motherfucker is weird. But this is a weird track, and entirely unlike everything else on this record. It’s very atonal and experimental, definitely straddling the line of what many people would call music. I also can’t figure out exactly how the hell he composed it. There aren’t any keyboards here, I think most of it is analog manipulation of analog sounds (i.e. tape music). I can see why he worked with Yoko Ono. Not exactly easy listening, but kudos for originality.

Neil Norman
Dance Of The Hyenas
Neil Norman organized this collection, and the only other artist whose name I recognized. Norman released those “Greatest Science Fiction Hits” albums in the 80s. This dude loves sci-fi. I bet he had a booth in at least one mid-80s Star Trek convention.

This is good, deliberately “sci-fi” sounding space music that deserves to be played as the background music in an episode of that new Star Trek series that probably isn’t very good.

Michael Garrison
Another Tangerine Dream-inspired keyboardist, Garrison released a lot of music in his life, and from what I can gather some of it is held in very high regard by ambient music fans. This is certainly a pretty good rejiggering of the Tangerine Dream sound (sensing a theme?), with a good mix of sequencer rhythms and a super-catchy melody. Feels like just part of a larger piece though.

Bruce Courtois
Inside The Black Hole
I can’t find much about out about Bruce. This is his only credited release on Discogs, and the only song of his I can find anything about on the internet (apparently its streaming on Spotify, who knew?)

I think, however, that he was in an early-70s glam band called Zolar X. They were a weird LA band with a sci-fi bent. Each of them when by pseudonyms, but the real name given for “Zany Zatovian” is “Bruce Allen Courtois,” so I assume that’s him.

It’s too bad he never pursued an electronic career proper, as “Inside The Black Hole” serves as a great album closer. Good upbeat spacey sound, good melody as well. I imagine this playing during a segment on 3-2-1 Contact about computers or something. It’s really evocative of the era it came from.

Black Box from another life

September 24th, 2017

I think I’ve talked about this before, this blog is over 10 years old after all, but I have a playlist on my computer that’s just called “Lost Turntable.” That’s a queue of sorts that contains every song that I want to share here at some point.

Right now it has 1,200 songs on it and includes tracks that I first recorded to my computer back in 2013.

Now, the 1,200 is kind of deceptive. I have a few complete albums on there that I have no intention in sharing in their entirety, but regardless, this list has gotten to damn big. And a lot of these songs have been languishing there for far too long.

But no more! The purge has begun! First up, anything I recorded to my computer before I moved to Japan.  A lot of this stuff is strange. You’ve been warned. But if you’re a little sick of the Japanese prog/new wave, then you’ll probably be happy.

Black Box
The Black Box Medley
Hold On (Disco Tech Mix)
Ask me anything about Black Box. Spoiler: I know nothing about Black Box.

Well, I guess that’s not true, weren’t they the other group that Martha Walsh sued for credit (with the more notable one being C+C Music Factory).

It was hard for me to find out exactly how long I’ve actually had this song in my collection. According to iTunes, I added it to my library in March of 2013, but that’s just when I got my current computer, so all that tells me is that it predates that. I actually have the hard drive from my previous setup in this computer though, and according to that, I added these files to my collection in October of 2012.

At that time I was still trying to cut it as a full-time freelancer (I’d just gotten an article on!) and was planning my then vacation to China and Japan. Funny that.

I was also buying singles en masse. Seriously, you have no idea. You realize how deep you have to dive into a dance music rabbit hole to come out the other side with promo only Black Box remixes? Pretty fucking deep I tell you what.

Looking back, that was such a weird point in my life, spending so much time in front of my computer, listening to LPs non-stop. I also owned a home! Didn’t have a full-time job! And hella in the closet (as much as a man with over 100 Madonna singles can be)! It’s amazing how fast shit changes. I still look back at that time of my life happily. I have no regrets about any of it. I was happy I spent that time on my ass, trying to make it as a writer and listening to weird 12″ singles all damn day. But I’m glad it came to an end. Tokyo is dope. My boyfriend is dope. My job is dope (usually) and my apartment is hella dope (and I don’t have to worry about the pipes in the basement fucking exploding).

I do, however, miss buying countless 12″ singles for dirt cheap prices. Tokyo may have more record stores than most American states, but none of them are Jerry’s Records. I miss Jerry’s.

And Mineo’s, the pizza place that was next door. Although the fact that I don’t go there ever week is probably for the best. It’s probably why I lost 20 pounds when I first moved here.

Anyways, Black Box. House music. Dig it.


Madonna for Head Colds

September 21st, 2017

Figures right after I write about how I don’t get sick as much as I used to that I go and get sick for the second time in two months. Might as well post and write about a shitload of Madonna remixes, cuz that’s my thing after all.

But before you check out this bountiful supply of mid-tier Madonna tracks, take some time and head over to my other site, Mostly-Retro. Witness it’s continuing transformation into a far-too-personal blog. Here’s a story about Japanese medicine (and poop). Here’s another story about arcades, and also about how I identify with Tokyo’s slow decay away from the glory days of the 80s. Y’know, hot topical stuff that I’m sure will get me them hits.

Hollywood (Jacques Lu Cont’s Thin White Duke mix)
Hollywood (The Micronauts remix)
Hollywood (Oakenfold Full remix)
Hollywood (Deepsky’s Home Sweet Home Vocal remix)
Hollywood (Calderone & Quayle Glam mix)
Love Profusion (The Passengerz Club Profusion)
Love Profusion (Blow-Up Mix)
Love Profusion (Ralphi Rosario House Vocal Extended)
Love Profusion (Ralphi Rosario Big Room Dub)
Love Profusion (The Passengerz Dub Profusion)
Love Profusion (Craig J.’s Good Vibe Mix)
Love Profusion (Ralphi Rosario Big Room Vox Extended)
Lots of stuff here, I want to empty the Madonna out of my backlog by the end of the month.

There are some reposts here, kind of. I put up most of those “Hollywood” remixes a few years back, but those were taken from various 12″ singles. Tonight’s MP3s are rips from CD singles – so they sound much better. Re-download them even if you snagged the earlier ones. They’re all mostly good remixes also, solid takes on a good track.

The “Love Profusion” tracks are good as well, I really enjoy the Ralphi Rosario remixes, they give the track an 80s vibe that really suits it well.

Hey, did I mention I saw Duran Duran and Nile Rodgers this week? That was fucking amazing. Here, I have the gif to prove it.

Y’all have a nice weekend.

Funky Drummer and Bad Madonna

September 18th, 2017

Okay, I lied. I’m going to keep trying to get my old Twitter account back, I have a few more tricks up my sleeves. I know what you’re thinking, “James, you swore off Twitter a few months ago, why do you care that your account is gone?”

Well, for a few reasons. One, while I did severely cut back on my tweet activity as of late, it’s still a good way for me to keep in contact with a few people I like to know about. It’s also an excellent resource to find out about record sales. Additionally, let’s just be honest, having an account with close to a thousand followers is a decent method of self-promotion. I’ve never been shy to the fact that I desperately want people to read my shit.

Also, for me to get banned for “targeted abuse” while David motherfucking Duke still has account where he tweets out antisemitic bullshit literally every day is a fucking hypocrisy that I’m against on basic principle.

Anyways, I’m still trying out some options on my end, and may require your assistance at some point. In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas that might help, please share!

Now, for a change, pop music.

Sheila E.
KooKoo (Remix)
Paradise Gardens (Extended Version)
Sheila E. has a new album out! I haven’t bought it yet as I found out about it only 20 minutes ago, but from what I gleamed on YouTube, it’s funky as a motherfunker and sounds pretty rad. Check it out if you can.

Also check out these dope vintage Sheila E. remixes I scored…shit, where/when did I buy this? Did this just show up at my apartment someday? Is that what it’s come to? Are wayward 12″ singles just somehow becoming self-aware and making their way to my place because they know they’ll have a safe home here?

Seriously, I have no idea where I got this.

American Pie (Victor Calderone Filter Dub Mix)
American Pie (Victor Calderone Vocal Dub Mix)
American Pie (Richard Humpty Vission Visit Madonna)
American Pie (Richard Humpty Vission Radio Mix)
American Pie (Victor Calderone Vocal Club Mix)
American Pie (Victor Calderone Extended Vocal Club Mix)
If there was ever a sign that a completionist attitude is a mistake that can only lead to suffering, it’s the fact that I own not one, but three different 12″ singles of Madonna’s “American Pie,” solely because I want to own as much Madonna as inhumanly possible.

I hate the original version of this song. I’m sorry, I just do. And Madonna’s version is just infinitely worse. You know what doesn’t need to be remade into an upbeat dance track? The song about that time those famous rock and roll stars died tragically at very young ages.

I’m sharing these in the same sense of completionism that I bought them. I’m sure there’s someone out there who wants them just for the sake of wanting them. I’m here for you dude.

In case you’re wondering if any of these remixes are actually good, well it’s hard to say since the original is so bad. But the “Richard Humpty Vission Radio Mix” and the “Victor Calderone Vocal” mixes are decent as they actually resemble the original track to some degree. The others are just bland house tracks with the occasional Madonna vocal sample.