Don’t perform medical experiments on DJs without their consent.

February 24th, 2018

Yo today I met HIRO, the composer behind the music to every great Sega game ever so I’m in a great mood and here’s some weird shit to celebrate my great mood of greatness I feel great yay.

Dr. Yann Tomita and Grandmaster Flash
Vinyl Beat Of Two Turntables with Cybernetics and Bio-Feedback (English Version)
Vinyl Beat Of Two Turntables with Cybernetics and Bio-Feedback (Japanese Version)

I got two turntables and…a lot of other stuff.

Dr. Yann’s full name is Yann Tomita (no relation to other Tomita). I don’t think that he is a real doctor, but judging from his discography he’s certainly a musical visionary of sorts. He seems to enjoy dabbling in just about everything in every genre, often with some form of experimental electronics.

Take this track, for instance, in which he combines the turntable skills of the legendary Grandmaster Flash with a few different biofeedback devices. Some are hooked up the Grandmaster, some to Tomita. All convert the signals they receive into some kind of sonic output. The track itself actually explains the process in the introduction (the only differences in the tracks are the introductions, by the way).

This is experimental music in the most direct sense, this is an experiment to make music. Does the experiment work? You be the judge. I certainly find it interesting even if it does kind of all apart near the end.

 

TPO: Synthpop for Descending into Madness

February 22nd, 2018

You know, I was having a decent enough February, current events notwithstanding of course. I was enjoying work, having a lot of fun with my boyfriend, buying a lot of stupid, weird music no one cares about but me, and even staying relatively healthy after a few months of non-serious but still very annoying health problems. Things were good.

That must be how the flu found me, it feasts on happiness.

The flu KICKED MY FUCKING ASS last week. Hitting me like a sack of bricks dipped in shit on Saturday, and leaving me pretty much entirely incapacitated throughout the weekend and into most of Tuesday with a fever breaking 104 at times. I’m about 70% recovered now, but I still feel like the alien from The Hidden tried to suck its life force out of me. Ugh.

Whilst in my feverish state, I did two things; watching Friends on Netflix, and listened to this.

TPO
Dawning
The Jet Set
Camacho Preguicosa
Dori Twisted Her Smile
I was in Shop Mecano last week (before I was struck down with the plague) and was itching to buy something. Having completely exhausted literally every single YMO-related act of note, I just asked the owner to recommend something weird. He pulled out this record, calling it “Japanese Art Of Noise.” Good sales pitch, so I bought it.

I think he might’ve undersold it. At least, it terms of weirdness.

This is a crazy record. According to the guy at Mecano, it was almost entirely composed on the Fairlight synthesizer, and it certainly sounds like it. It definitely doesn’t bear any resemblance to YMO. It’s much more complex and just features a manic intensity and bombastic flare that even the most over-the-top and outlandish YMO tracks lack. YMO primarily used Moogs, sequencers and samplers. That gave their music a more stripped down sound. IT sounds fuller and bigger than it is primarily because the hooks and melodies are so strong.

This stuff doesn’t have the pure melodic power of the best YMO tracks, but its full of energy and has a goofy, fun vibe that’s impossible to dislike. The guy at Mecano was right, it does sound like Art Of Noise, but I would also throw in a bit of Pet Shop Boys (at least in terms of instrumentation) and maybe electro-era Herbie Hancock as well; two other acts known for their use of the Fairlight.

I don’t want to share the entire album, it’s 37 songs spread out over two CDs, so I thought I would share just a snippet, my favorite tracks that I feel encompass the oddball, zany variety you can find on the record proper. “Dawning” is an over-the-top opener that damn well should’ve been the theme music to a mid-80s television news show, while “The Jet Set” is a sample-driven dance tune that definitely features that Art of Noise influence. Driving up the mania is “Comacho Preguicosa,” which features entirely computer-generated vocals, and then “Dori Twisted Her Smile” takes things down a notch with its more standard synthpop sound, complete with human vocals and a traditional pop song structure. Like I said, this thing runs the gamut.

In case you’re wondering who the hell TPO is, me too! There’s not a lot to be found online about these guys aside from their Discogs page. I think that the group’s brainchild was Fumitaka Anzai, who worked on a lot of anime and game soundtracks. He was also in the Japanese prog act Crosswind, which doesn’t surprise me, there’s a lot of prog/synthpop crossover in Japan.

TPO didn’t release a lot. After this record they just put out on more album proper, a collaborative album with someone named Linda Masters. Anyways, that album is hella rare and is currently for sale for over $160 on Discogs, so I won’t be listening to it anytime soon. They also did the soundtrack to a world’s fair that was held in Japan in 1985. My boyfriend totally went to that! That’s adorable and amazing.

This stuff serves as a great soundtrack to to fever dreams, by the way, so maybe make a special playlist for that.

Super Gun Super Funk Super Awesome

February 12th, 2018

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but writing this blog is becoming increasingly difficult. Three times last week I sat down to write a post only to realize the songs I wanted to write about and share were already in print, or I covered them years ago. I’ve been doing this thing for over ten years after all.

So, don’t expect any rare or hard-to-find cuts by mainstream or even well-known cult acts for a while. Of course, that could change, I could stumble into a lucky 12″ single like I did with that PWEI one. But I don’t expect it. Instead, expect more weird Japanese synth-pop and strange experimental electronic records from the 70s. As that’s what I’m digging the most at the present time.

Also expect really odd shit like like.

SUPER GUN MOTHERFUCKER.

I’m not one for sound effects records, because they’re kind of pointless. I bet if I would’ve been aware of their existence when I was a kid I would’ve dug the shit out of them. But as an adult I really don’t need a collection of car sounds or thunderstorm ambiance.

I certainly didn’t think I needed a compilation of gun sound effects, but hey, sometimes you surprise yourself.

This is actually a bit more than just sounds of guns going off, so don’t quit on me yet. This is Super Gun, and as far as I can gather, it’s a companion album to the film The Beast Must Die, a movie about a reporter who goes off the deep end and embarks on a violent crime spree. What better to accompany a dark and disturbing film than an album that demonstrates various gun sound effects with an almost fetish-like attention to detail? It doesn’t just feature the sounds of the guns when they’re being fired, it also includes introductions (in English) by American gun experts.

Oh, and it also features DOPE FUNK.

The album opens and closes with a slow jam theme that’s good but pretty much forgettable. However, after a few tracks of nothing but dudes blasting guns, we’re given a break from the ballistics and treated to “Firing,” which is three and a half minutes of groovalicious funk for funking things up.

This song is taken from the film’s proper soundtrack album, which credits Akihiko Takashima as the composer. I think this track might’ve been performed by Arakawa Band, a jazz-funk group that’s credited as the backing band on the album. Regardless of who performed it, it’s fucking rad. So much that I’m including it as a separate download.

Super Gun (Complete Album)
Firing (song only)

Want to hear all the music and gunfire that Super Gun has to offer? Click the first link. Just wanna funk out? Then click the second.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Japanese funk is the secret best funk.

Blue Fukamachi

January 30th, 2018

Somehow, for whatever reason, some five months after the fact, I got my damn Twitter account unsuspended. I have no idea how I did this. I sent them countless emails over these past few months, pleading my case from every possible angle I could think of. During that time, I’m happy that I never succumbed to the urge to send vulgar insults or baseless threats. Trust me, many an unsent message contained both.

Maybe my restraint paid off. Maybe someone finally realized their mistake. Maybe someone just pushed the wrong button. I don’t care. I’m just happy I got my fucking account back after all this damn time. Not because I really like Twitter all that much, but dammit it’s important for me to stay on brand. UnLostTurntable was a shitty replacement name.

Anyways, @LostTurntable, follow me for random things. Mostly art.

Blue Pearl
Mother Dawn (Buckateer Mix 1)
Mother Dawn (Buckateer Mix 2)
Mother Dawn (Buckateer Mix 3)
Mother Dawn (Lunacy Mix)
Blue Pearl was a side-project of Youth from Killing Joke and featured Durga McBroom on vocals. The group also sported guest appearances from David Gilmour and Richard Wright from Pink Floyd, albeit not on this track.

All of these remixes are by The Orb and sound very much like remixes by The Orb, so your mileage may vary depending on how excited that sounds to you. Me, I’m not a big fan of The Orb’s remix work. They often fuck up with source material too much, and to me that’s the problem with these remixes here. They just sound like ambient dub Orb tracks, save for the Lunacy Mix, which has an actual beat and vocals.

Jun Fukamachi’s 21st Century Band
Shin-Ku
This is jazz fusion but please keep reading.

I went bit of a buying spree of Japanese jazz fusion as of late, trying to figure out which albums in the genre appeal to me and which ones don’t. I’m super hot and cold on this stuff. I either think it’s the best stuff ever or it makes me want to slam spikes in my ears, and I wanted to figure out why. What makes “good” jazz fusion to me? I think I was able to pin down the criteria:

  1. Absolute minimum vocals.
  2. Guitar or keyboard-centric
  3. Fast tempo
  4. The most synthesizers the better

With all these components, I really dig this stuff. It takes on a funky vibe that I hella get behind, like this track by piano virtuoso Jun Fukamachi. It has a jazz core, that’s for sure, but it branches out from that really quickly. It has a weird prog bent, some bizarre electronic accents, and more a few dope solos. And whoever the drummer is, wow. They really kick it into gear in the second half. It’s about 10 minutes long, but it still has structure, it doesn’t feel like a bunch of guys in the room just jamming nonstop. At least, it doesn’t to me.

I get that this isn’t the kind of stuff that people come to this blog for, and that’s cool. But if you don’t like it…just, don’t tell me? No one is making you download this free music, after all.

If you do like it, or have recommendations based on it, let me know! Leave a comment or you can contact me on my motherfucking back from the dead Twitter account.

Damn that feels good to say.

Heat Up With Pop Will Eat Itself

January 28th, 2018

Things. I wrote them.

First up, a guide to buying city pop in Tokyo. I know I said I’m not the world’s biggest fan of city pop, but I am the world’s biggest fan of Tokyo record stores, so I think that should be enough to be of help to people looking for this stuff.

Second, I went to a dope Space Invaders exhibition and wrote about it for Retronauts! So go read that!

Pop Will Eat Itself
92° (Boilerhouse ‘The Birth, The Death’ Mix)
The Incredible PWEI Vs Dirty Harry
92° (Boilerhouse ‘The Birth’ Mix)
Finding a 12″ single of a song I don’t own by a band I like is a rare event in Tokyo. That has less to do with the fact that 12″ singles aren’t really that big here and more to do with the fact that I own a fuckton of 12″ singles. This is a track off of Wise Up Suckers, and I had totally forgotten about it entirely until I listened to these remixes. Wise Up Suckers isn’t the greatest PWEI album, that award obviously goes to “This Is The Day…” but it’s still a damn fine listen and a great time capsule of the era from which it came. These remixes (and the B-side in between) great, can you dig them?

Also my copy was signed? So that’s weird.

EPO
恋はハイ・タッチ-ハイ・テック (Hi-Touch Hi-Tech)
I’m not going to lie and say that I know a shitload about this artist. They could be a lost legend of the 80s Japanese synthpop scene, although I doubt it. I’m just going to say that I really like this cheesy as hell dance tune and I thought that yinz might like it too. It’s not like, great, or anything. I feel like I found the Japanese equivalent of Pretty Poison of something, but it’s a good jam for happy times.

Unfortunately Named Japanese Bands and Bambi Remixes

January 21st, 2018

Lots of updates and news to get out of the way first!

Firstly, I was offered to be interviewed on a Japanese TV show and talk about my love of Japanese record stores and Japanese music! How exciting, right?

Well, I turned them down. Go to my other blog to find out why. Spoiler: it sucks.

Also, I’ve had a few comments recently both here and on Twitter regarding my health, as I complain about that a lot. Figured I should mention that a bit and say that, thankfully, I’m starting to feel moderately human once more. I had a bad combination of some kind of lung infection, a major fibromyalgia flare-up, and aggravated herniated disc. All of these problems are beginning to subside and I’m starting to feel like my old self again, slowly but surely. Of course, I’m sure I’ll catch the flu that everyone in Tokyo seems to have at the moment, but until then, I feel super(ish), thanks for asking.

Colored Music
Colored Music
A few months ago picked up the compilation More Better Days, which collects some of the highlights that could be found on the Better Days label. I’ve heard Better Days described as an “avant pop” label, which I guess is good enough. They were very jazzy, but understand that Japanese jazz (especially from the 80s) was a bit more on the wild side than you’d probably guess. Don’t forget that the entire Japanese synthpop scene was born out of the jazz scene of the late-70s! So when I say that the music on More Better Days has a jazz feel to it, understand that it also travels into punk, new wave, ambient, electronic and pop territories, sometimes all on the same song.

Anyways, More Better Days is like 90% bangers, and is 100% worth you time to pick up. Be warned though, that it may set you down a rabbit hole of hard-to-find and exceptionally out-of-print obscure Japanese music that’ll cost you an arm and a leg.

Example: Colored Music, who have two tracks featured on that LP. Their music is damn hard to describe. The track I’m sharing tonight reminds me heavily of Talking Heads or Material, new wave with a disco groove you can dance to. But its off-kilter in a way that neither of those bands ever were. Like, the breakdown halfway through is odd enough, but the way that segues into a Fripp-eqsue feedback-laden solo? What the hell is that? This shit is dope as fuck. Thankfully CD copies of Colored Music aren’t impossible to come by. You can find it online for about $40 or $50 new. That sounds like a lot, but CDs retail for nearly $30 in Japan, so you’re not really paying all that much of a mark-up when you think about it.

Anyways, however you want to get it, get it. I won’t judge you. This shit needs to be heard by more people.

Hajime Tachibana
Bambi
Bambi (Fashion Photograph Mix)
Bonus Bambi Groove
XP (I Love You Mix)
Bonus Whistle Groove
I had no idea that Tachibana went full electronic house in the early-90s, even going as far as to collaborate with Towa Tei for a few tracks. These are from the 12″ single to “Bambi,” the title track from the 1991 album of the same name. These don’t sound like the Tachibana songs I know. They’re decidedly less insane and have things like a recognizable song structure and melody, but they’re groovy as hell. They really feel more like Towa Tei tracks, to be honest. And that’s not really a bad thing let’s be real here.

His name is Ryo and he plays guitar synthesizer

January 14th, 2018

I wrote a thing on my other site about Japanese “city pop” and how it’s becoming kind of a thing in the states to the degree that it’s now becoming kind of a thing in Japan. It’s weird.

The funny thing to me is that, in my opinion, city pop isn’t all that interesting. That is, of course, working under the assumption that city pop is an actual, definable, genre (and it’s really not). But I’m not going to harp on anyone who does dig on it. It’s different, and that’s cool.

I went through a lot of different city pop acts on YouTube, trying to find a few that might appeal to me. Usually I would find a track or two I would like by artists like Taeko Ohnuki or Junko Ohashi, but my interest would just stop there – at a track or two. They just couldn’t hold my interest.

It bums me out. I wish I could be more into this stuff. It’s funny that some form of Japanese 80s music is starting to catch on in the fringes of the outskirts of mainsteam, but it’s the one type of Japanese 80s music I’m just not that into.

You know what I am into though? Utterly bizarre cross-genre electronic music built on obscure synthesizer technology.

Ryo Kawasaki – Featuring Concierto De Aranjuez
I never heard of Kawasaki until a few weeks back, when I started getting his name in my “recommended viewing” list on YouTube due to all the city pop I was looking up. Aside from being Japanese though, Kawasaki doesn’t have much in common with city pop. While city pop certainly overlaps with jazz in many ways, Kawasaki is a jazz musician first and foremost, working exclusively as a jazz guitarist throughout most of the 70s.

I checked out a few of his 70s albums, and everything I heard was, at the very least, interesting. He’s a jazz guitarist, and some of his stuff is just too jazzy for me, but on some of those albums he branched out into great funk tangents. And throughout all of them his guitar playing is absolute stellar top-notch stuff.

But in the 80s he took a hard turn and embraced guitar synthesizers entirely. Of course, this is what I’m the most interested in and what I’m sharing tonight.

Featuring Concierto De Aranjuez is an experimental electronic album built almost entirely on guitar synthesizers. The linear notes explicitly state that no keyboard synthesizers were used on this record, only guitar synthesizers and a handful of drum machines. The album is split into two halves. The first half, like the title suggests, is based on the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo. It starts out almost entirely acoustic, only using the synthesized melodies as a backdrop at first. But as it progresses the more synthetic sounds rise to the forefront. It’s a bizarre combination, like a Spanish guitarist somehow ended up on a Klaus Schulze record. Really amazing stuff.

Things go full digital on side B, with tracks like “Marilyn” barely using any traditional guitar sounds at all. It’s amazing that all of it was created using only guitar synths and drum machines. At times it really sounds like he’s using sequencers and keyboards. Incredible.

I really wanted to showcase this album tonight because I think it’s a dynamic and intriguing record. This is not simple “new age” music. This is not a fusion album. This is something different. This is something you really got to hear.

Ryo Kawasaki actually did a lot of other fascinating stuff in the 80s and I’m trying to track it down. I hope I can share more in the future.

One Part Funk and Three Parts Groovy

January 2nd, 2018

My computer, which had served me well for many years and across two continents, kicked the bucket a few weeks back. And it was rather sudden, so I had to move fast in choosing a replacement. I think I got a good one though, a beast of a machine from a local gaming PC shop called G-Tune. It plays games super great, audio editing is faster than ever, and it’s by far the quietest PC I’ve ever had. I love it.

But it really can’t play music all that well.

Although I suppose that’s really not the computer’s fault. In this situation, iTunes is entirely to blame. On my old PC, I never updated iTunes, I think I was rocking a three or four-year-old version of the program. And it was a slog and slow as hell and had all kinds of problems, but it played music well, and that was kind of the point.

On my new machine, with the newest version of iTunes, music sounds like shit. If I have just a handful of applications running, it starts to pop and crackle, almost non-stop. And I’ve tried mucking about with various settings, both in Windows and in iTunes, all to no avail.

So I thought I would try some alternative programs. The first one that I gave a try was MusicBee. I had heard good things, and it was supposed to be easy to use. And it was at first, but how that programs handles rips (or any new files in my library for that matter) is just atrocious. Simply put, they don’t seem to show up, at least, not in a matter that I would deem punctual. I add an album and have to wait several minutes for all the songs to propagate in my library. And when I would play new songs the song order would get all wonky for no damn reason. Every problem I had with the program just seemed nonsensical and beyond hope. Fuck it.

Now I’m trying MediaMonkey. Allegedly, this program is made special to handle super-large media libraries. In my experience so far, that hasn’t been the case. Constant hangups and lag whenever I try to sort anything. And searching my library often creates delays as well. The interface is just a clusterfuck. So hard to make your way around anything.

Can anyone out there recommend a media manager/music player that just fucking works? One that makes adding new media easy. One that can rip CDs. One that allows me to make playlists and gives me plenty of sorting options. I don’t even care if I have to pay for it. I have no problems paying for a program that works!

Suggestions would be welcome, thanks.

Sheila E.
Glamorous Life Medley
This is from a German 12″ single and includes truncated versions of “The Glamorous Life,” ‘Sister Fate” and “A Love Bizarre.” Medleys are sometimes good, it’s like getting a concentrated version of your favorite artist. And any excuse for me to post more Sheila E. is a good thing.

Pizzicato Five
The Audrey Hepburn Complex (Extended Stanley Donen Mix)
The 59th Street Bridge Song – Feelin’ Groovy (Club Mix – Night Owl)
Let’s Go Away For Awhile (Club Mix – Cafe Bizarre)
I haven’t talked about Pizzicato Five much, I think I’ve only written about them once on this blog. Truth be told, I don’t know all that much about them. They were kinda-sorta a little popular in the States for a brief period in the 90s, but they’ve actually been around much longer than that. They’re almost contemporaneous with YMO, with their first releases coming out in the mid-80s.

This is actually their very first single, and it really sounds ahead of its time, in an entirely retro kind of way. I mean, it’s ahead of its time in what it’s references, that mainly being music from the 60s and 70s. They were definitely throwing back to that retro sound before it was cool. Their jazzy club sound is certainly more reminiscent of acts from the 90s, with Saint Etienne being the most obvious comparison.

This shit is groovy, that’s what it is. Makes sense, as the Shibuya-Kei scene from which they came was heavily influenced by 60s and 70s pop music (I mean, one of these tracks is a Simon & Garfunkel cover after all). PIzzicato Five own some Leslie Gore albums I know it.

Mario Syndrome For the Holidays!

December 25th, 2017

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all enjoy your holiday.

Christmas is nearly over here in Japan, and I had a decent one, considering that my boyfriend was sick and I couldn’t see him. That was a downer, but on the upside Christmas isn’t a big holiday here – meaning all the record stores were still open. And strangely enough, a lot of them were having anime/game music sales. So it looks like my Christmas gift to Japan this year was poor spending habits. I bought a lot of really weird stuff, including this!

Bonus 21
Mario Syndrome
Mario Syndrome (Remix Version)
Princess Peach
I’ve actually been looking for this one for ages. It’s an early example of “arranged” (remixed) game music that takes audio from the game and adds upon it with original instrumentation and even some vocals. There are better arrangements of the Mario theme music out there, no doubt, but very few are as “80s” as this one. It’s pumped full of random samples from the game, and pulses with drum beats that were most likely taken from an 808 or equivalent software. A Japanese breakdancer cut loose to this one, I’m sure of it.

The title track and the remix are reworkings of the main overworld theme to the first game, while “Princess Peach” is a version of the underwater music, complete with lyrics. Said lyrics are entirely in Japanese, and I can only pick up every sixth word so I’m afraid I won’t be offering a translation tonight.

The credited artist here is Bonus 21, and this is their only release. The linear notes list the main members as Shunji Inoue and Hiroyuki Tanaka, who were in the pop group Neverland, they didn’t do any other game music release from what I can tell.

I have about 10 days off starting on the 27th, and I plan on hopefully getting some long in-the-works pieces done, both here and on Mostly-Retro. My health hasn’t been great as of late, but I’m finally starting to recover, so expect a lot more content next month! Once again, Merry Christmas and, if I don’t get another post out before, happy new year! Here’s hoping we all survive 2018.

Have An 8-bit Christmas with GMO Christmas Song

December 20th, 2017

One of my favorite YouTube channels is Lazy Game Reviews. I’m a sucker for old DOS games, and I really appreciate his dry humor and attention to detail. Last week, he shared a thrifting find, a cassette tape of “computer” holiday music. It’s not bad, but it also wasn’t what I was hoping for when I first clicked on the video. It’s too modern-sounding, and at times sounds like something you might hear pumped into a department store. It’s just not idiosyncratic or offbeat enough. And its certainly not “computer” enough.

But then I remembered that I had something that perfectly fit that description.

GMO Christmas Songs
This is GMO’s Christmas album. GMO was a record label founded in the mid-80s by members of Yellow Magic Orchestra. It was created solely to publish game music soundtracks. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to come across 80s game music vinyl, it was probably released by GMO.

GMO Christmas Song is the only release by the label that is not a collection of game music in some way. Instead, it is an original compilation featuring “game music” renditions of holiday classics. Today this would be called chiptune, but that word didn’t exist back in 1987, when this first came out.

The artists responsible for these 8-bit interpretations of holiday standards aren’t notable names of game music. I’ve never heard of any of them to be honest. I had to look them to see that two of them, Yashuhiko Fukuda and Nobuyuki Nakamura, are rather accomplished anime composers. But don’t let that discourage you from checking this out, it’s a lot of fun.

I have no idea as to what equipment this music was performed on. While it’s obviously going for an 8-bit style, it sounds just a bit too advanced for that. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made on a PC-88 or something like that though.

Hope you enjoy the silliness. Have a chiptunetastic holiday!