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 1up.com!) 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.

Madonna
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.

Madonna
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.

Das Computer

September 9th, 2017

After emailing, messaging and DMing Twitter Support repeatedly and getting no response, justification or explanation for my ban, I’m finally giving up the fight for my old screenname. I will never know what exactly I did to earn this ban. Whatever. I least I work for a company that has a business plan and makes money, unlike whatever bastard decided to delete my account whilst keeping the racists, homophobes and other bastards’ accounts around.

My new screenname is @unLostTurntable. I was going for FoundTurntable, but that was somehow taken. Damn.

Now, whose ready for some motherfucking Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader up in here!? That’s right get hype!

 

Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader – Erdenklang – Computerakustische Klangsinfonie
Okay, I didn’t know who these guys were either until I bought this one on a whim. What triggered the whim? Well, this blurb on the back cover.

 

Good work knowing your audience guys.

Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader are both from Austria, and were in the obscure 70s prog rock act Eela Craig. I’ve never listened to that group, but I am aware of them, mainly because their LPs fetch huge prices at the local prog store I go to. The two were also heavily involved in Ars Electronica, a cultural institute that promotes new media art. That’s all I could gather about the duo in my short research. I’m sure there’s a lot more out there, but I don’t feel like regurgitating other sites’ information. If you end up listening to this album and want to know more about them, I’m sure you can go about doing that all on your own. I’d rather talk about this album.

Despite the Carlos endorsement on the back cover, this album doesn’t sound much like the minimal, purely analog synth work she’s most well-known for. Although, that’s not surprising considering that not a single analog machine was used in the recording of this album. The entire record was recorded using the Fairlight CMI, the digital synthesizer that helped create the sound of the 80s with its very robust sampling capabilities.

The Fairlight was also used a lot on Peter Gabriel’s early solo works, and some of this album really reminds me of the instrumentals on that one. Very ambient, but not always minimal, very textured, both the opening and closing numbers really make me think of Gabriel’s best work from that era.

The best track on this album though is the second one, the nearly 12-minute “Erdentief” and its sound is light years away from quiet and ambient. Instead, it really harkens to the anime soundtracks and other over-the-top instrumental electronic music from this era that I find myself listening to a lot right now. Very sample-driven, and even when its sparse, the sounds used are so artificial and bizarre that it still sounds jarring and even a little discordant. It also still sounds remarkably 80s, a little slap bass and drum samples really go a long way in that regard.

It’s a fun record, often upbeat while occasionally delving into more relaxing and meditative moods. I’m digging it right now, hope you can too.

 

Digital Tripping

September 2nd, 2017

I have a tumblr because why the fuck not. I don’t know if I “get” tumblr. My friend who is hella into tumblr said that, based on the tumblrs I’m following, I like “synthwave” and “aesthetic” but not “vaporwave.”

I barely know what that means. I like synthesizers and 80s shit I guess. Gee who knew?

Speaking of synthesizers and 80s shit….

Various Artists – Digital Trip Catalogue Synthesizer Fantasy

For the past couple of year I’ve occasionally touched upon the Digital Trip Synthesizer Fantasy records. These albums are a collection of anime/manga themes re-imagined (almost) entirely on synthesizers.I’m not a big anime guy. I know, I’m a nerd living in Tokyo so that’s weird, but it’s just not my thing. But what is my thing is dope 80s synthesizer music, and these albums have that in spades.

I’ve only posted one Digital Trip album in its entirety, the Lupin the 3rd one, which happened to be the first one I found. Since then I think I’ve posted the occasional tracks from others, but I really didn’t want to go out and post another album in full. I was trying to instead focus on the highlights of the series and then craft my own sort of greatest hits of them all. Little did I know that they went ahead and did that for me in 1983.

Digital Trip Catalogue Synthesizer Fantasy is a compilation of tracks from the various albums in the series that had been released up to that point. By that time, only half of the series had been released, but they still had a quite a few standout titles to choose from, and I have to say that I’m pretty happy with what they chose.

They also went out of their way to showcase and a wide selection of artists who had contributed to the Digital Trip series, which is really great because it allows you to compare and contrast their different styles. Not all synthesizer cover artists are created equal you know.  For example, on one hand you have Osamu Shoji, who favors heavily modulated and layered sounds to create an almost explosion of synthesizers, while on the other you have an artist like Jun Fukamachi, an insanely talented jazz pianist who favors a more minimal arrangement.  I personally favor Shoji’s kitchen sink approach, but both are great and really work to showcase just how much variety you can get out purely synthesized arrangements of already written music.

Synthwave is good, for sure, but if you really wanna embrace electronic music and fall in love with everything synthesizers from the 80s had to offer, you’ll ditch that synthwave and go head first into Japanese Jazz Funk Synthesizer Anime Music….wave.

Naming genres is really hard.

A Twitter Updated (continued)

August 31st, 2017

Some 48 hours after suspending my account, Twitter responded to my appeal with a denial. They will not restore my account. Their reason was that I violated Twitter rules regarding targeted abuse. That means they thought I was being abusive to a specific person or a “protected group.” So they considered my repeated reports against David Duke to be abusive, or they took umbrage with my “Kill all Nazis” tweet (never mind the fact that there are people with that phrase in their username). I cannot think of anything else that I could have done.

Twitter banned me because I was mean to Nazis.

I haven’t tweeted much lately but I had been reporting a lot of other accounts for abusive behavior. I reported one for racist abuse, another for encouraging violence against anti-Nazi protest groups. Both of those are still up.

As I mentioned numerous times, I reported David Duke for blatant TOS violations regarding antisemitism. His account is still active.

Recently, I reported an account that created fake chat logs to frame a well-known anti-Gamergate activist for sexual harassment. The user in question admitted to making the logs up with the sole purpose of framing the individual for something they did not commit.

That person’s account is still active.

So let’s review. On Twitter, being a Nazi is okay. Being a supremacist alluding to the extermination of any group of people is okay, as long as you don’t come out and directly say it. Also okay, harassing someone for the color of their skin. That’s fine. No big deal there. Committing a crime and impersonating someone in order to frame them for a crime, also fine. That’s cool.

But saying Nazis should die or trying to get people who think Jews should be exterminated from this planet off of the site? That’s a big no-no.

I created another account mostly to keep in contact with people who I only communicate with on Twitter and to follow record labels/stores. That’s it. I will no longer be tweeting unless I’m talking to my friends or responding to polite tweets from others. I’m setting up some accounts on other social media services that I want to use. I might even start up a Facebook group to share updates to my sites/record release news. I’ll keep you all updated

2017, the year of “not all Nazis” is really being a banger.

A Quick Update About My Twitter Account

August 30th, 2017

If you’re wondering what happened to my Twitter account, hey me too.

As I detailed in a post on my other blog a few months ago, I don’t really tweet that much anymore. While I have caved on that from time to time, 90% of my interactions on the platform are with my friends , or me looking at Tokyo record shops for their latest deals. That’s about it.

Regardless, I somehow got slapped with a suspension, not a lock, but a full-on suspension, yesterday. I have yet to find out why. I was not given a reason. They have not replied to my message asking for more details.

I suspect one of three things happened.

The first is what I hope is the case, because it’s not really Twitter’s fault. A few days ago a user whose name I will not mention added me to two strange lists, with names like “SuspendLvl1” and “gotroot.” Was he trying to hack my account or perform some kind of action that would flag it in a way that would lead to my suspension? Perhaps. I reported him when it happened and Twitter actually has asked for more details about that. Hilariously, I can’t give them any more details since my account is MIA.

Like I said, I hope that’s the case, because shit like that happens, it gets resolved, and everyone moves on.

If it’s not the case, then I can only imagine that I was suspended for either my pinned tweet, which simply states “Kill All Nazis.” Or because someone at support might’ve thought I was abusing their abuse reporting system because I flag and report David Duke’s account for abuse literally everyday. I’m not doing that as a joke or some troll, I’m doing it because David Duke violates Twitter’s TOS literally every day. He often spits out tweets filled antisemetic rheotic and attacks. That’s against Twitter’s rules. So I report him for it. Last week they actually responded and said that his account was in violation. Since then I’ve seen him tone it down a bit, but his account is still up and running somehow. Maybe me reporting him since then pissed someone at support off? Good to know that reporting Nazis will get you in more trouble on Twitter than actually being a Nazi.

If that didn’t do it, then maybe my recent pinned tweet, “Kill all Nazis” rubbed someone at Twitter the wrong way.

Like I said, I don’t know, I can only speculate, because Twitter WON’T TELL ME what I did wrong.

Anyways, I’m banned from Twitter for the time being. Prominent Nazis are not. Twitter, you’re doing a great job.

Body Count
Cop Killer
Never not relevant.

Japanese Vivaldi Give Me Strength

August 27th, 2017

Fucking hell.

Everything sure is shit, huh?

What the fuck do you do? I mean, seriously, I’m asking for some options. What the fuck do you do? I’ve found that a slight increase in the amount of evening whiskey helps a bit, but that’s just putting a band-aid on the problem. Donating to worthwhile charities is a more healthy outlet for suffering, provided you can afford it, but that can only go so far as well. Ignoring the problems doesn’t make them go away, but I can understand why some choose to go that route also.

 

I like to post something every Sunday, give or take. It’s when I have the most free time and it serves as a way to unwind after work. But with all the shit going on this weekend, I really didn’t know what to post. I only share out-of-print and hard-to-find music after all. Ain’t that much hard-to-find protest music worth sharing. I thought about reposting “Cop Killer” again, but I dunno, that much negativity just isn’t doing it for me right now. Thought about sharing some Digital Hardcore, Atari Teenage Riot also. I don’t know, not in the mood for that either.

Nothing I have seems to accurately encapsulate how I feel about the massive dumpster fire that is the world right now. So instead I thought I’d post something that serves as a moderate escape from it: jazz-influenced rock covers of classical music.

Look, don’t judge me, okay? I got enough shit going on.

 

Shigeaki Saegusa and the Electric Super Band21st Century Vivaldi

A covers album of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Let’s not act like this is weird, this isn’t even the weirdest shit I’ve posted this summer. I bought this the same day that I bought Mogi’s Digital Mystery Tour album. I’m just going to come right out and say it; this album is not as good as that one. But that’s like saying Oreos aren’t as good as getting head. Both are great, just in different ways.

For starters, this isn’t an entirely electronic creation. It features a full band. There are definitely electronic elements to be found here, but the album largely has a rock feel. But it still finds its own ways to be out there. The album features a lot of choral arrangements and vocalizing. Don’t ask me if those were present in Vivaldi’s original compositions (spoiler: I don’t know shit about Vivaldi), but even if they were I doubt they were handled like they are here. The vocalizing is ethereal, almost spooky at times. It reminds me of the vocal parts from some Goblin tracks. They sound less like melodies at times and more like demonic incantations.

That’s not to say the album isn’t goofy or fun in spots. A lot of it is lighthearted and playful. The 3rd Movement of Fall uses a synthesizer to create a joyous and buoyant atmosphere. While the finale of Summer goes full manic, again thanks to the abundant synthesizer. The album is also lifted by some killer percussion work by Shiro Ito, a session drummer who has performed on orchestral versions of Dragon Quest and Gradius soundtracks, to name a few.

The album was arranged by Shigeaki Saegusa, who I know even less about than Vivaldi. According to his Discogs page, he worked on a few Gundam soundtracks, and Astro Boy as well. He also put out an album in 1981 called Radiation Missa. If this YouTube clip is any indication of that album’s sound, I need to buy that shit immediately.

Big Beat Beats To Beat Fascists To

August 20th, 2017

Sorry for the lack of updates for the past week or so. I was in the States visiting family. While I always plan on updating my blog when I’m away, that rarely happens. Usually because I get distracted with seeing my friends and family. While that was certainly the case this time around as well, the RAMPANT RISE OF VIOLENT WHITE NATIONALISM was also a bit of a distraction. Sorry.

How about some big beat techno?

Sparky Lightbourne – Let Me Out Of My Box
Chester Rockwell – Monsters Of Rock
Surreal Madrid – Girls Of The Nite (Elite Force Remix)
FLF – Let The Good Times Roll
Sniper – Suburban Hooligan
Crossfire –Here We Go
All of the above tracks were taken from a 1999 compilation called Big Beat Royale Revisited. I posted another track from this album a few weeks back, so I thought I’d share the rest (that are currently out-of-print) here tonight. If you want a look at the full tracklisting, check it here.

I usually break my posts up by song, writing about each individually. Couldn’t do that with these, there just isn’t much to say about most of these tunes. That’s not to suggest that they’re bad, I actually like most of them, but big beat isn’t exactly deep. All of these songs follow the classic big beat formula; dope beat, random vocal samples, repeat. Shallow and stupid for sure, but it still gets me going.

I’m surprised that big beat never made a comeback. Are we due for late-90s nostalgia yet? Maybe it still has a chance.

Of all these songs, my favorites are the first two; “Let Me Out Of My Box” and “Monsters Of Rock.” I really dig the groovy bassline on “Let Me Out Of My Box,” it straddles the line between acid house and techno in a way I really dig. The guitar lick is rad too, and the vocal sample comes in at just the right time. If you told me it was a lost Propellerheads track I’d believe you.

“Monsters Of Rock” is just a big song with a big sound that my big ass can really get behind. A fucking pounding beat that will just annihilate you, and the track wastes no time getting down to business with an extended explosion of crunching guitars and frantic record scratches. And then, out of nowhere, comes a sample of “Double Dutch Bus,” the exact same sample that Missy Elliot used three years later for her smash hit “Gossip Folk.” I mean, it’s literally the exact same sample. They both use the same part of the same song. I have to wonder if someone in Missy’s camp heard this track somehow.

Like I said, all these tracks are rad, but those two are just fucking spectacular. Get your groove on. And then go smash a fascist.

Puffy (Not That One) and Moby

August 4th, 2017

I wrote a thing about Death Wish. It’s probably not very good (both the movie and what I wrote).

In other news, I’m going to America next week oh God.

This will be a much shorter visit than my usual month-long transcontinental tours. I’m stopping off in Oregon to see my mom and then jetting back to Japan a week later. Hopefully ICE won’t send me to Mexico before then.

Assuming I’m not detained on trumped up (PUN) charges and sent to a CIA retention center, I do plan on doing some record shopping in Portland before heading back, so I hope to find some 12″ singles that seem to be a bit on the scarce side here. Until then, here’s some fucking ultra-rad J-pop and Moby being Moby.

 

Puffy
愛のしるし (✪ Mix)
渚にまつわるエトセトラ (Take Me To The Disco)
アジアの純真 (Malcolm McLaren Mix)
パフィー De ルンバ (Watermelon Remix)
日曜日の娘 (Ultra Living Mix)
Have I ever discussed the idiotic backwards way I usually discover old bands? It’s really stupid.

While most people get into a band from a hit single, or an album recommendation from a friend and then maybe eventually work their way to the obscure 12″ single or remix, I start there and work my way up to the hits. It happened with Depeche Mode and Erasure, and now its happening with Japanese acts like this. I’ve never heard a Puffy (aka Puffy Amiyumi) track proper before buying this remix single. Still haven’t, to be honest, but I’m eating this shit up right now, so I can totally see myself buying some of their stuff in the immediate future.

So why did I buy this remix single? Well, I could say that it’s because I noticed Malcolm McLaren’s name on the tracklisting. But I’m going to be honest and say that I thought my boyfriend would giggle when he saw the package of the guy on the cover.

I was right, by the way.

These remixes are fucking rad, totally groovy disco-infused dance music that will get you in the mood to boogie. The best of the bunch is the second one, which is remixed by Fantastic Plastic Machine. It’s got that perfect storm combination of 90s electronic, 80s synthpop and 70s disco that gets me every damn time. Great hook that had me singing along even though I don’t speak the language…still.

Look, Japanese is really really hard.

Moby
James Bond Theme (Moby’s re-version) (Piet Blanc’s Da Bomb mix)
James Bond Theme (Moby’s re-version) (Danny Tenaglia’s Acetate dub)
James Bond Theme (Moby’s re-version) (Grooverider’s Jeep mix)
Japan-only maxi single exclusives woo living in this country totally continues to pay off. I walk into just about any CD store and find a Japan-only CD single I’ve been dying to get my hands on for years, and I have affordable health insurance. Totally a win-win.

I’m sure these remixes are on some US release, so don’t “actually…” me. But they’re not on my US CD or 12″ singles for this song, so I was very happy to find them on the Japanese version. Always been a big fan of Moby’s take on this classic.