Archive for the ‘Towa Tei’ Category

Beat The Heat With Cornelius

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

It is too fucking hot in Tokyo. Actually, let me clarify that a bit: it is too fucking humid in Tokyo. Today it was 84 degrees Fahrenheit. I mean, that’s hot, but not too bad. However, humidity was at 80% and I had to wear a shirt with a collar for work. Thank god we don’t have to wear ties in the summer or I would be a puddle of English instructor.

On days like this, you gotta take coolness as a state of mind, something that I carry even into the music I listen to on my commute. If I’m stuck in a crowded train on a hot and humid morning, the last thing I want to listen to is some fast-paced techno or heavy metal. I want to chill out and calm down, find ways to distract myself from my sweaty brow and heat-induced itches in the bad places.

So thanks to Cornelius’ latest release Mellow Waves, an album that certainly lives up to its title as some mellow mellowness. It’s helping me survive this brutal Tokyo sauna. Its not an ambient album, there are beats and lyrics, complete with choruses. These are proper pop tunes, just subdued and relaxed ones. It makes for the perfect soundtrack for when you’re trying your best not to scream at the top of your lungs and tear off your suit on a rush hour train to Shibuya.

You’ll have to trust me on that one.

Anyways, I won’t share Mellow Waves as its a new release that’s in-print even in America. But I want to hype Cornelius anyway I can, so here are some of his older remixes that are my favs.

Atomic Moog 2000 (Cornelius Remix)
This version has been on a few different albums and compilations over the years, in fact I have it twice over. I first discovered it on the 1999 Coldcut remix album Let Us RePlay, and then re-discovered it recently via a cheesy “big beat” compilation I picked up called Big Beat Royale Revisited. It’s a dope track with dope beats and a dope drop. It’s dope.

Towa Tei
Butterfly (Cornelius Remix)
I meant to share this when I posted the other versions of this track a few weeks back, but I didn’t because…I forgot. Sorry about that. This is a rad remix that re-imagines the original drum and bass tune as a chill-as-fuck lounge tune with glitch elements.

Sketch Show
Ekot (Cornelius Remix)
Chronograph (Cornelius Remix)
As I mentioned in my guide to YMO-adjacent acts, Sketch Show is kind of a version of Yellow Magic Orchestra, featuring Hosono and Takahashi with the occasional support of Ryuichi Sakamoto.

They’re nothing like YMO though and skew much more towards the experimental, and especially glitch, end of the musical spectrum. Their music can be exceptionally beautiful at times, but glitch has always been a difficult genre for me to get into. Like its name suggests, it often just sounds broken to me, and the pops, cracks and other deliberate effects that are used to create a slightly off-center soundscape can sometimes just scratch the wrong nerve in my brain. I really got to be chill and relaxed to get into it. As you can probably guess, its not summer music for me.

The original versions of these tracks were already abstract, but Cornelius’ takes on them move them even further away from the mainstream, often stripping out the beats to create more ambient versions. I like what he does to them even if it’s not really always what I want out of music. If you ever listened to Aphex Twin and thought, “this could work as a pop song,” then you should probably dig on this stuff though.

Towa Power

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

I’ve been trying to write a lot more lately and I think the results have been relatively good. Over at my other site you can find a goofy little write-up about a strange Japanese arcade game, as well as a piece about a game music DJ set that I went to.  I don’t often say this, but I’m kinda sorta proud of the latter piece and I think it covers something more people should know about, so if you read it and like it, please feel free to share it with your friends via your social media platform of choice. More people need to know about dope underground game music DJ shows in Tokyo.

Towa Tei
Butterfly (Extended)
Moth (DJ Die & Suv Remix)
“Butterfly” is a track from Towa’s 1999 album Last Century Modern, which is a great album I recommend checking out if you like 90s electronic music, very drum and bass in parts, but it still keeps some of that Towa lounge sound that he’s known so well for. “Butterfly” is a standout track from the album, I think it was a single first. It’s definitely an example of Towa incorporating the Shibuya Kei lounge music sound into a more upbeat and modern context. A really fun and upbeat track. “Moth” is the B-side remix, which makes me hope that somewhere there’s a cassette only remix of the track called “Pupa” or “Caterpillar” or something. I do have some more remixes of “Butterfly,” but they’re on an album I plan on sharing in its entirety on a later date so they’ll have to wait for now, sorry. These two mixes came from a 12″ single. That single also came with a stupid poster. Look.

No Way (Full Mix)
No Way (Norman’s Club Mix)
No Way (Dee Joy Delite Mix)
Pro-tip for anyone out there collecting obscure dance singles from the mid-to-late-90s (I can’t be the only one, right?). If you see the name “Norman” on it anywhere, that Norman is probably Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim. That’s certainly the case with this one. Freakpower is one in a long line of Fatboy Slim aliases and collaborative acts, which also included Cheeky Boy, Pizza Man and Yum Yum Head Food. The next time you think that Fatboy Slim is a dumb name, keep those other possibilities in mind.

Freakpower was one of the more prolific aliases for Cook, he actually released two albums as part of the group, one in 1994 and another in 1996. I’ve never heard either of them, but if they’re anything like “No Way” I highly suspect they sound like Fatboy Slim albums.


Bass In Yo’ Face

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

I’ve been having a hard time of late figuring out what to write in this space right here. One thing that I’ve always taken pride in is that my site is…different, I guess? Any asshole can put up a bunch of MP3s ripped from vinyl, steal some copy from Wikipedia and give themselves a blog post (*cough* burning the ground *cough*). I’ve always aimed to be a bit more than that, not only in terms of music writing, but in terms of just sharing my thoughts. It’s always been important to me that this is as much a blog as it is MP3s.

But yo, life has been a real motherfucker as of late. And as much as I want to contribute to the current political discussion and showcase my utter contempt and hatred for Trump at every possible moment, I really don’t know what to say aside from “fuck that guy I hope he gets cancer and dies.” And while that feels good for me to get off my chest every now and then, it’s not really all that constructive, is it?

Maybe I’ll recommend some lesser-known non-profits to donate to? Dedicate a blog post to areas where you can contribute your resources to help those who need it? Or just provide a thesaurus of swear words so you can find more ways to describe Trump aside from “motherfucking cocksucker.”

Although, if it ain’t broke…

Towa Tei
Sound Museum (Haruomi Hosono Remix)
Time After Time (Blaze Remix)
GBI (Latin Narrow Light) (Lisa Carbon Remix)
Higher (Appaloosa Remix)
Happy (DJ Die Remix)
BMT (Bizzy B & Pugwash Remix)
It took me a while, but I’m finally falling headfirst into a Towa Tei hole (ew, that came out wrong). I think me and him got off on the wrong foot. I started out with his first album, and it just wasn’t my thing. Since then, I jumped forward about 15 years to his more recent stuff and really fell in love with it. I can’t recommend his newest record, Emo, enough. It’s a fantastic collection of dance-pop, picking up where Metafive left off in some really fun and exciting ways. I also highly recommend his 2013 album Lucky, which features the amazing title track and “Radio,” the latter of which was remade as a Metafive track a few years later. Really fantastic, upbeat super-fun pop music that just doesn’t get old.

These tracks are from the mid-90s, and very much sound like it. This is the Towa Tei who was in Deee-Lite, not the Towa Tei who crafts perfect pop songs today. That’s certainly not a knock against these tracks, it’s just to say that they sound dramatically different than his new stuff.

Of this bunch, my hands-down favorite is the last one. Got that Biz Markie, that Mos Def and an amazing rolling drum and bass backdrop that just kicks my ass all over the place. Dopest jam.

Purple Medley
Purple Medley (Edit)
Kirk J’s B Sides Remix
We’re just one month away from the release of the massive 3CD+DVD super deluxe edition of Purple Rain, and I’m hella stoked. I was reading impressions when it was first announced and was surprised by the negative response. Sure, it could have more, but that goes without saying; Prince was an insanely prolific artist who never stopped recording. I’m sure Warner Bros. could fill a 10CD box set of recordings made during the Purple Rain sessions, but that doesn’t mean they should. I’m happy for an abridged 3 disc set featuring a handful of unreleased material alongside hard-to-find classics like the “God” instrumental and extended versions of the album tracks. And the concert video (and it’s a video, hence no HD so don’t complain) should be incredible. I’m negative about enough stuff right now, I refuse to be negative about this. Now, if Warner Bros. never gets around to re-releasing the Prince side-projects like Madhouse and The Family, then I’ll get pissy.

“Purple Medley” was originally released in 1995. It was a single release only, it did not appear on any proper album. The B-side, entitled the “B Side Remix,” has no actual B-sides on it. So you explain that one to me.

I originally posted this track nearly seven years ago (holy hell) but that was taken from an very scratchy vinyl.  This is from the CD. So even if you downloaded it back in the day, you’ll probably want to download this one to replace it.

Random Selection of Japanese Music

Monday, April 7th, 2014

I wrote a thing about how I was sick for a fucking month. Read that then listen to these rad tunes that I picked up at some local record stores. Or don’t read it and listen to the music. Or read  it and don’t listen to the music. Or don’t read it and don’t listen to the music, turn off your computer and go experience the “real world.”

Fuck it, it’s your life. I can’t tell you what to do.

Hajime Tachibana
Chicken Consommé
One day I’m  just going to cave and post a whole Tachibana album. Until then, here’s another standout track from the manically eclectic artist, this one from his 1985 album Taiyo Sun, which is probably my favorite record of his after Mister Techie & Miss Kipple (although, let’s be honest, that album has a much better name).

Yukihiro Takahashi
My Bright Tomorrow
As I mentioned before, Yukihiro Takahashi is the lead singer of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and one of my favorite musicians on the planet. His 1983 release, Tomorrow’s Just Another Day, isn’t one of my favorites by him (a bit too slow for my tastes) but this song from that album might be one of my favorites. It’s such a wonderfully, beautifully sad song. An amazing ode to wanting for things to be better, hoping for a change while slowly and sadly realizing that it may never come. It’s a heartbreaking but gorgeous tune.

Towa Tei
Sometimes Samurai
Japanese electronic pop + Kylie Minogue = my jam.

Towa Tei was in Deee-Lite in case you’re a fan of gay club music from the 1990s and you’re wondering where you’ve heard that name before.