Ian Martin is a freelance writer covering music and pop culture. He has been active in the Tokyo music scene as an indie event organiser, DJ and label owner since 2004 and has been contributing to The Japan Times music page for almost as long.
For Ian Martin's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Oct 31, 2018
Oct 4, 2017
The years 1997 and 1998 were a watershed in Japanese music. It was the dizzying peak that marked the point between the relentlessly climbing music sales that preceded and the mostly unbroken decline that followed. It also saw the 21st century begin to take shape, with artists such as Hikaru Utada, Ayumi Hamasaki and Morning Musume bursting onto the scene with their first chart hits.
Aug 30, 2017
The ongoing project to rerelease Yoko Ono's full catalog of 11 albums, which began in late 2016, has now reached its second stage with the release of a trilogy of early-1970s albums — taking in "Fly" (1971), "Approximately Infinite Universe" and "Feeling the Space" (both 1973) — that embody a series of tensions.
Mar 26, 2017
Music is often characterized over-simplistically as a battle between rock and pop, seriousness and fun, but the two are always in an ever-shifting balance. With this column coming to the end of its six-year run, it feels timely to cast a look back — and perhaps also a hopeful eye forward — over the changing state of music in Japan.
Jan 29, 2017
A 58-year-old Japanese man with a dyed blond mullet in a thick, woolly sweater hunches over a series of a dozen keyboards. With a casual confidence his fingers trip through a few bright, up-tempo chords. There's something familiar about the sound — a nostalgia tinged with just a hint of guilty pleasure. His music sounded cheesy even back when it was cool. But admit it, you kind of miss it now ... this sound from a more optimistic time.
Dec 25, 2016
While the J-pop mainstream seemed in 2016 to have finally and irreversibly consummated the awkward courtship of streaming technology, the year was business as usual for the basement-dwellers of the indie and underground scenes. And as usual, the result was a raft of terrific records that hardly anyone will ever hear.
Oct 30, 2016
Jun 26, 2016
Anarchic, anything-goes garage-punk band Afrirampo is defined first and foremost by feelings: The feelings that drive the duo as artists and the feelings they evoke in audiences. As the band returns to the live circuit after a six-year absence, guitarist Mayumi "Oni" Saeki is acutely aware of how the feeling of the band has both changed and remained constant since before her and drummer Mineko "Pika" Azuma's extended hiatus.
Jun 26, 2016
When I first embarked on my attempt to visit every prefecture in Japan and learn about the local indie music scene in each one, the idea that I would be able to draw any meaningful generalizations from the adventure seemed ludicrous. The music scene of Tokyo alone is an incomprehensible mess, so how would I even begin to sort through an entire country's worth of information and find any sort of clear story?
Mar 27, 2016
We are living through the dying days of the CD format. It clings to life here and there, but its usefulness as a medium for transmitting music is pretty much over. What remains is a sort of meta-existence, where the value of a physical music format lies purely in the tactile physicality of the object at the moment of an exchange — before it gets ripped to your computer.
Feb 28, 2016
I have been traveling around the country since September meeting people involved in different independent music scenes in such places as Hokkaido, and Iwate and Saitama prefectures. After taking a break over winter, I resumed my travels this month and headed to the contrasting environments of icy Ishikawa Prefecture and sunny Okinawa.
Feb 7, 2016
Jan 24, 2016
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