The Glory of Hard-Off

I’ll get the obvious joke out of the way now.

In Japan, software is just called “soft” and hardware” is just called “hard.” The suffix “off” is often used to signify sales. There’s an entire chain of stores that make use of that grammatical choice. They have bookstores called “Book Off” that are quite common in and around Tokyo. Their stores that sell figures and models is called “Hobby Off.” They even have a used housewares store that is named “Off House,” I’m not sure for the reasoning behind the flipped words there.

But yes, they do have a hardware store, and it is called “Hard Off.” I understand that’s funny and I will not besmirch you for laughing. Shit, I’ve lived here three and a half years and I still giggle sometimes when I say to myself, “wow, that Hard-Off is huge.”

By the way, they have a liquor outlet store called “Liquor Off” and I think that shit is even funnier, but I digress. Continue reading

The last post about Twitter

For all intents and purposes, I am quitting Twitter.

Longtime readers of my sites probably know that I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I love it in many ways. When I was coming to Japan for vacation, a retweet by William Gibson(!!!) helped me get tickets to a Muse concert. And when I decided to move to Japan, a helpful user on the site led a guiding hand, showing me which companies would fit my needs best.

A few months later, I had to block said user after he tweeted out some transphobic bullshit and lashed out at me for criticizing him for it.

Which leads me to what I don’t like about Twitter. Continue reading

Listen to Whipping Post

I didn’t go good on my last test. I’m going to listen to “Whipping Post.”

I can’t meet anyone and I’m lonely all the time. I’m going to listen to “Whipping Post.”

I can’t find a job. The market’s dried up. I’m going to listen to “Whipping Post.”

I’m working in a warehouse with no air conditioning. I’m going to listen to “Whipping Post.”

The place I just moved into has cockroaches, my roommates are assholes and I’m fairly certain my next door neighbor is a drug dealer. I’m going to listen to “Whipping Post.” Continue reading

#BootDuke

Three months ago I wrote about how Twitter restricted access to my tweets because I was engaging in behavior that they deemed abusive. Mainly, I was telling assholes who are murdering the planet that I hope they get cancer and die.

I stand by that. If you think that’s harsh, well, I really don’t care. Continue reading

Logic Exhibition – Vintage Synths Galore

Hideki Matsutake isn’t a household name in Japan, let alone the United States, but his influence on electronic music on both sides of the Pacific cannot be understated. He worked as the sequencer programmer on the first two Yellow Magic Orchestra albums, as well as many of the solo albums by Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. His skill with the notoriously difficult early synthesizers and sequencers of the 1970s no doubt helped YMO craft their sound. In turn, YMO served as a major influence to artists not just in Japan, but the world over. It’s hard to imagine a world with Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” without Yellow Magic Orchestra’s 1978 debut album to help lead the way.

In addition to his work with YMO, Matsutake is an accomplished solo performer under the name Logic System, and has also worked alongside countless musicians in Japan from the 1970s to present day. In celebration of his decades of accomplishment, he recently released the five disc retrospective Logic Chronicle, which demonstrates his amazing versatility across genres and sub-genres of electronic and rock music, from synthpop and dance music to avant-garde and prog. It’s an incredible collection and I highly recommend it.

To help promote its release, Matsutake held a major exhibition over the weekend, which included interviews and a concert performance. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to either of those, but I was able to swing by the pop-up store for it. I came there hoping to snag some obscure Japanese electronic music. I didn’t expect to see the actual instruments used to help invent synthpop. Continue reading

David Bowie Record Store Day 2017 Vinyl Reviews

This Record Store Day saw two “exclusive” David Bowie releases. One is a five-sided, three LP live album entitled Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74), while the other is Bowpromo, a re-issue of a promo-only LP from 1971.

Both of these are releases are limited editions. The live album got a pressing of 17,000 worldwide, while Bowpromo received a one-time pressing of 15,000. This will no doubt lead to them commanding a hefty price on the secondary market. As I write this in Tokyo, the record stores are just opening their doors in the UK, with the US soon to follow. Copies of both records are already flooding eBay, and I expect even more to show up on the site very soon. And if the stock at my local Tokyo stores was any indication, those who didn’t snag one in the stores within the first hour of doors opening will probably have to go to eBay if they want one.

But should you even bother? Continue reading

YMO 101: The Pre-Cursors and Side Projects

This is part five of my guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Part 1: The Studio Albums
Part 2: The Live Albums
Part 3: The Compilations and Remix Records
Part 4: The Solo Records
Part 6: The Protégés, Associates and Etc.

If you get big enough into any band that had any kind of success, you’ll start to look out for side-projects, pre-cursors and follow-ups. Sometimes this can lead you down a great road of musical discoveries. I’m sure many a young Zeppelin fan didn’t get into The Yardbirds until they found out Jimmy Page was in the group. And Pearl Jam fanatics of the 90s got to discover the entire foundation of the grunge genre with Green River and Mudhoney. But charting a band’s musical tree doesn’t always work out so well. I pity the Slipknot fan who bought anything by Stone Sour expecting anything resembling actual music. And while they’ll always have “Genius Of Love,” anyone who thinks that Tom Tom Club are a worthy companion to Talking Heads are just fooling themselves.

Luckily, the YMO fan looking to explore the various bands that Yukihiro Takahashi, Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto have called themselves members of is in luck; those groups include some of the most influential and important bands in Japanese rock history, fun upbeat pop music, easy-listening jazz, and some interesting experimental electronic offshoots.

Only one of them is godawful horrible. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: Rez Infinite (iam8bit Edition)

  • Credited Composer: Various Artists
  • Released February 15, 2017
  • Label: Nippon Columbia
  • VGMdb Information Page

The Rez soundtrack is the dopest shit.

It’s the soundtrack to the future, if your present is the mid-90s. It’s what you listen to when you’re in The Matrix. What you put on your headphones if your Angelina Jolie in Hackers. It’s the top 40 radio of the Ghost In The Shell universe. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert

  • Credited Composer: Koji Kondo with additional artists
  • Released February 15, 2017
  • Label: Nippon Columbia
  • VGMdb Information Page: Deluxe Edition, Standard Edition

 

Last year, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo held a short concert series featuring orchestral arrangements of Zelda tunes performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Now, less than six months later, the concerts have made their way to CD, and in a swank deluxe edition to boot. Continue reading

What is Abuse?

Twitter unveiled a new way to try and handle online abuse and trolls sometime last week. Unofficially dubbed “Twitter Time Out,” (TTO) the system punishes accounts Twitter deems to be abusive by limiting their exposure to other accounts for 12 hours. Their own followers can still see their tweets, but to everyone else, it will appear as if they’ve taken a break from the social media service. Their tweets simply won’t be seen by anyone, including anyone mentioned in them.

I know, because it happened to me this weekend. And let me tell you, the experience taught me a lesson; that Twitter still doesn’t know what the fuck it’s doing about curbing abuse and harmful accounts. Continue reading

Subscribe