David Bowie Is was originally an exhibition at the V&A in England. It was massively successful, and since then it has gone on the road around the world. Now, it has made its way to Tokyo. I went there just the other day. It was amazing, breathtaking and at times nearly reduced me to tears. It’s the end all be all experience for any David Bowie fan, an audio/visual smorgasbord of memorabilia, rare video, behind-the-scenes footage and various Bowie ephemera from his birth to now.
You should go. That’s all I really have to say about that. Besides, photos weren’t allowed inside so writing anymore about it would be rather pointless. So instead, let’s talk about the records you can buy there, because vinyl. Continue reading
Before Yellow Magic Orchestra released their first album in 1979, all three members (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yukihiro Takahashi and Haruomi Hosono) were already accomplished solo musicians to some degree. And their penchant for releasing music on their own continued on both during their time in YMO and after.
And I don’t mean they would occasionally release an album once or twice a decade. For a while, all of them were seemingly putting out music non-stop. Continue reading
- Credited Performer: Akihabara Electric Circus
- Released September 15, 1988
- Label: Eastworld/Toshiba
- VGMdb Information Page
In 1988 a group by the name of Akiharbara Electric Circus released two arranged game music albums. One featured nothing but reworked version of music from Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s a weird record.
The other is this, Toy Music: Dancing Super Mario Bros.
It’s fucking batshit. Continue reading
I usually don’t do year end lists. For one, I don’t like lists. I think they’re lazy. Give me a 2,000 word essay on the state of music in 2016. Don’t give me a list of albums you thought were neat.
But I relented this year, for a few reasons. One, I bought a shitload of new music this year, which is something I really haven’t done since I moved to Japan three years ago. And a lot of it was really, really good.
Additionally, a lot of it was either Japanese or, for other reasons, the kind of stuff that flies under the radar for most people. And I’m not under the illusion that my taste in music is somehow better or more important because so much of what I like isn’t popular, it’s just different. And since none of the year end lists or articles I read mentioned damn near any of these albums (save for one obvious exception) I thought I’d go ahead and write up my own for a change.
But I didn’t stop there. Like any other year, I bought a lot of old music too, much of which in the form of reissues. And again, a lot of them where fantastic. So, in addition to “Best New Music,” I’m also including a list of “Best Reissues.” Because the old shit is always better.
So let’s get down to it. The first list is numbered, the second is not. Continue reading
This all started because my boyfriend gave me his old MiniDisc player.
We were watching Techmoan on YouTube, some video about an obsolete tape format, and I mentioned how I wished he would do an episode on MiniDiscs, because they always interested me. Then, my boyfriend told me that he actually had a MiniDisc player (that he never used) and would give to me. It was a wonderful gift from my wonderful little man, but unfortunately he didn’t have any discs for it.
I went to my regular record store haunts scoping the back shelves for used MiniDiscs, but to no avail. After that, I decided to branch out and search some lesser known shops. Still turning up empty-handed, I reached out even further, doing research online to dig up as many record stores as possible, figuring that at least one would have used MiniDiscs somewhere.
It was at this point I realized that I had probably been to at least half of the record stores in and around Tokyo so I figured what would be the harm in hunting down the other half.
So if you find this useful and want to thank someone, thank my boyfriend. It’s all his fault.
And in case you’re wondering, no, I never did find a damn MiniDisc. Continue reading
- Credited Composer: Various Artists
- Released July 17, 1997
- Label: Sony
- VGMdb Information Page: 2CD Edition, Single Disc Edition, 2LP Edition
For all its acclaim as an anime action epic, the original Ghost In The Shell film is actually a pretty quiet affair, peppered with only a scant few minutes of solid action. The majority of the film is a drama, that alternates between police procedural and meditative discussions on technology and what it means to be alive in a world where humanity and machine seem to be one in the same. The whole thing climaxes not with a giant battle, but with a conversation between a robot and a cyborg, discussing if life has a point without mortality.
Accompanying all of this is a legendary score by Kenji Kawai, which combines modern technology and traditional Japanese instrumentation with an end result that resembles something that Philip Glass or Dead Can Dance might compose. Just like the film itself, the score to Ghost In The Shell is haunting and beautiful, a work of art that is nearly unrivaled.
Got all that? Good. Because the Ghost In The Shell game that appeared on the PS1 is a third-person shooter where you take control of a tank and blow shit up real good. And the soundtrack is non-stop pulse-pounding techno, all of which has the subtlety and nuance of a jackhammer. Continue reading
It’s August 31st, 1999, just hours before my 20th birthday and I’m in St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, waiting for Moby to take the stage. Play, his soon-to-be-defining album, had just been released earlier that year, and buzz was starting to build around him.
But before Moby would perform a set that would end up blowing my mind, another group would appear on stage, some weird Japanese act called Boom Boom Satellites, delivering a blistering set of uninterrupted insanity composed of electronic beats, frenetic drumming and a pair of hyper-intense frontmen who obviously knew how to shred on guitar. Continue reading
Hey, did you hear there’s a new Portishead track out? It’s for that new flick High Rise and is a cover of Abba’s classic “S.O.S.” I bet you want to hear that, right? I bet you’re curious as to what a Portishead cover of an Abba song is like, considering it’s one of the strangest, most unlikely cover choices since Sonic Youth gave the world their take on The Carpenters. I bet you can’t wait to give it a listen on YouTube or even shell out the 99 cents to $1.29 on your favorite digital music storefront to buy it. Maybe you might even go to a physical location and hand a real person actual money in exchange for a physical good with the song on it either digitally or analog.
Well, too bad. You can’t. Continue reading
Someone out there decided that there weren’t enough labels going after the (apparently surprisingly lucrative) vinyl horror soundtrack collector market, because adding to the already crowded field that features labels like Death Waltz, Mondo (who bought Death Waltz), Waxworks, Silva Screen, One Way Static, Invada and probably a few more labels that I’m forgetting at the moment comes Night Fever Music with their debut release, the soundtrack to the cult-classic 80s horror comedy Fright Night. Continue reading