Welcome! ようこそ!

I set up this blog to hopefully introduce those outside Japan to some of Japan's best music and a taste of Osaka and Kyoto's thriving underground music scene.

Alot of what I post will be CDR's and CD's sold by bands on the Kyoto/Osaka live circuit. Hopefully giving a little exposure to the bands outside Japan. The rest will be Japanese bands from pretty much any and every generation and genre. From 60's Rock'n'Roll and folk to 00's noise and electronica.

If anyone has an issue with me uploading their music please contact me and I'll remove the links immediatley. My intention is to introduce this music to new audiences. So please help support these bands by buying their releases or catching them live if you have the opportunity. Alot of these guys are working full time jobs on top of making great music. Please send comments, complaints, recommendations and seasonal greetings to stinkinhippy@hotmail.com

Friday, 29 March 2013

Ichi - Mono

I is for Ichi

Ichi is the Pseudonym/solo project of multi-instrumentalist and artist Eiichi Shimasaki. Born in Osaka and raised in nearby Nagoya Eiichi is best known for his work as steelpan drummer with long standing eclectic, world music influenced rockers Nohshintoh. Eiichi performs delighful one man shows that utilize everything from accordions, steel drums, ping pong balls, typewriters and toothbrushes to his own hand crafted instruments like his glockenspiel-contrabass hybrid.  

Charming seems the most appropriate adjective to use when describing Ichi's music but doesn't really seem to do justice to just how marvellously charming his music and performances actually are. Fusing a wide range of World Music influences with field recordings and some light Jazz. Ichi comes off a little bit like a more ambient, slightly more psychedelic sounding Manu Chao. All sung in his bizarrely cartoonish high pitched muppet jibberish. This is Ichi's first studio which was released back in 2005 but he also released a second album entitled "Memo" in 2010. Ichi regularly plays plays shows in the UK and Europe so catch him if you have the chance. You won't forget it.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Helicoid 0222MB - Helicoid 0222MB

H is for Helicoid 0222MB.

Helicoid were an all girl Osaka 3-piece that formed in 1997. Regulars at the venue-of-choice for Osaka's experimental underground Bears Live House, the band quickly caught the attention of venue owner and former Boredoms/Omoidehatoba Guitarist Yamamoto Seiichi. The band made a number of appearances on compilations curated by Yamamoto before releasing their first full length album on Yamamoto's own label Ummo records. The band released 2 more albums before seeming to cease activity sometime in 2004.

A fetishistic love of Psychedelia, Prog, Noise and Krautrock which is fairly typical of Osaka's typically untypical underground vanguard is given the bands own spin by fusing it with some heavy influences from the more contemporary Shibuya Kei movement. A sub-genre that sprang up primarily around Tokyo's Shibuya district around the mid-90`s and most closely associated with the sound of bands like Fishmans, Cibbo Matto and Supercar. As a result Helicoid's sound is pretty ecclectic and manages to balance tangential spacey tracks with more immediate catchy grooves.. The bands 2 follow up albums "Ele Shock" and "Flying Startlyzer" are also worth checking out if you enjoy this one. Although they all seem to be out of print so could be tricky to track down.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Gnu - Suro

G is for Gnu 

Tokyo based Gnu (Pronounced as "Nu" the G is silent.) are a semi-improv unit formed by avant garde Jazz performer and composer Okura Masahiko in 1997. The band have had a couple of different lineups over the years switching bassists, drummers and guitarists with Okura being the only constant member. In 1998 Itoken joined the band as their drummer and in 2001 the ensemble began using a dual drum setup by throwing Kumada Takashi into the mix. The current 5 man lineup being Okura on Sax, Clarinet and Synth, Itoken and Kumada on drums, Taneishi Yukiya on bass and Chiba Hiroki on violin, contra bass and electronics.

The bands angular jazz/math-rock is probably most easily compared to genre figureheads Tortoise. The music is composed but live the arrangements of the songs are improvised with Okura taking the role of composer/master of ceremonies by communicating through hand gestures the length, tempo and dynamics of musical phrases and which players are playing etc.

Released in 2003 "Suro" is the bands 3rd studio album. The album represents a nice middle ground between its more accessible 2007 followup "Event" and the their most recent 2009 album the very cerebral sounding "Knowns". The dual drumming is fairly subtle on this release but check out "Knowns" to see the impressively nuanced beat juggling the band have developed over the years.