Musicophilia Daily

[Audio+Link] – Osamu Kitajima – “Benzaiten, God Of Music” (1974)

Posted in Audio, Link by Soundslike on May 21, 2009

Osamu Kitajima – “Benzaiten, God Of Music” (1974)

This one is thanks to Mutant Sounds. If Roy Budd or Marvin Gaye or Barry White had been making soundtracks for Japansploitation films instead of heist movies and American bad mothers, the results might’ve sounded like this.  A heady and supremely deft blend of traditional Japanese instrumentation and form (flute, vocals, percussion) with transatlantic Motown/Eurofunk sounds (the rhythm-style clavichord, the judicious wah-guitar flourishes, a thumping bassline), this is a too-rare beast.  I would never have believed this particular fusion could work so well, so if you’re skeptical, give it a shot.  I’d wager you find yourself heading over to the Mutant to download the album in full.

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[Audio] – Hajime Tachibana – “Rock” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 1, 2009

Hajime Tachibana – “Rock” (1984)

I dig “Japan’s Devo” The Plastics, but guitarist/vocalist Hajime Tachibana’s post-Plastics solo work is generally more interesting and certainly more diverse.  This track is among the more Plastics-like of his solo work, a quirky vocal pop with some of that B-52s 60s-spy-movie feeling but a little heavier and leaner.  Other work (which I’ll feature later on down the road) is less like one would expect from the Plastics sound–often consisting of carefully arranged reed instruments, percussion and electronics, with wide-ranging melodic sensibilities that remind me a little of work by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Magazine’s Mick Karn, Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Terry Riley.  This album and other early records can be found on spendy import reissue, but you can try these beautiful records out from the fantastic Mutant Sounds first.

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[Audio+Link] – François Bayle – “Solitude” (1969)

Posted in Audio, Link by Soundslike on March 18, 2009

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François Bayle – “Solitude” (1969)

Please don’t pass this post by. One, for the track at hand: it will turn your brain inside out, to be sure.  But also for the links and the general information this post will contain next.  First, the track: in a similar style to Parmegiani’s “Pop’eclectic,” Bayle’s “Solitude” is a fantastic melange of student politics energy, psychedelic rock, musique concrète, and early electronics.  It makes a great gateway drug to the latter styles, chugging along with Krautrock-esque beats and guitars, run through the more sophisticated, less bleepy-bloopy-space-musik end of concrète/electronic music.  It is proof that while the avant-garde weren’t often trying to make pop inroads (Henry’s “Psyche Rock” and BBC Radiophonic Workshop aside), they weren’t hiding away in ivory towers by the late 60s, and the visceral impact of this music makes it inarguable.  If it hits you, you’ll hear the 2nd half of the 20th Century all flowing in and out of the mix.  So listen, please listen, with open ears:

But that’s just the hook. What I really want you to do is start treading in deep sound, if you’re not already.  And if you haven’t jumped in–there’s really no place better to start than at the top.  Which is, for me (some of Parmegiani’s albums aside) the simply inconceivably amazing 4LP set, ‘Electronic Panorama: Paris, Tokyo, Utrecht, Warzsawa‘ released in 1970 and drawing on music from the late 1950s through 1970 from leading figures of those four cities’ avant-garde (Paris is unsurprisingly tops; Utrecht, for me, comes in next).  If you’re obsessed with sound, if you ever get excited about the way sound literally feels in your ears and how it moves through your body, if you ever listen to the sounds around you in the world as though they were music: you’re ready for this.  You need this.  I’ll let my hero of deep listening Woebot give you the verbiage.  And I’ll tell you that these records cost hundreds of dollars, if not more: so yeah, I don’t own a copy myself.  But, this is one of those examples where I say fuck all the doubters, the internet is a beautiful thing: you can download these amazing records in very high quality here and here at the absolutely life-changing Avant Garde Project.  Along with UbuWeb, Mutant Sounds, and the Wax Cylinder Preservation Project, I don’t really know any more wonderful archive for sound on the internet.

This is not pop music, and I’m not pretending it’s for everyone. But if you’re at the right place in your life, if your ears are shaped (metaphorically) anything like mine–well all I can say is that for me, whereas I’d been a skeptic about musique concrète and early electronics, thinking it was all bubbly bleeps and bloops; after I heard these records along with a few key bits from Stockhausen, Henry, Parmegiani, Schaeffer, Ferrari (those last four all found here), Raymond Scott, and Dockstader: I am a devotee.  I don’t try to push this stuff very often at Musicophilia, but finding these people the last few years has been as important as finding Can or “Piano Phase” or hearing my first fusion-era Miles Davis was for shaping my musical love affair.

[UPDATE: Check out this nice article from Simon Reynolds on the sleeve design for the series from which ‘Electronic Panorama’ comes–truly objects of beauty, and an inspiration for anyone attempting phony label-series artwork and for any graphic designer.]

[Audio] – Friction – “Cycle Dance” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 10, 2009

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Friction – “Cycle Dance” (1980)

Friction almost literally imported No Wave and the late 70s New York post-punk vibe to Japan, with two members having played with James Chance in the Contortions.  Still, they’re no carbon copy, bringing a more rythmic emphasis than Mars or DNA, especially on this track, with its rolling double-tom drumming and chanted vocals.  I don’t imagine this band’s records were absent from the Boredom’s record collections.  This album is currently available as a fairly costly “LP sleeve” Japanese CD import, but for fans of the New York discord, it’s worth it.