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 Jason Jenkins

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Jason Jenkins
Jason spent 13 years in Tokyo writing about cameras, parenting and the arts. In 2013 he left to travel, homeschooling his kids in Spain, Mexico and Southeast Asia before moving back to Japan in 2019.
For Jason Jenkins's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Mar 20, 2002
Boards of Canada: 'Geogaddi'
Electronic music isn't known for its sentimentality. However, when critics wrote about Boards of Canada's 1998 release, "Music Has the Right to Children," the word "nostalgia" was kicked around more than once. The amalgam of Vangelis-like keyboards and loops of school kids at play unearthed subconscious images of "Blade Runner" and "Sesame Street," often at the same time. This earned B.O.C. a place in the dubiously named genre of IDM, or "intelligent dance music."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Feb 27, 2002
Janet Klein: 'Paradise Wobble'
Janet Klein was born in the wrong era. With her warm, lilting voice, flapper dresses and ukulele, she seems more suitable for the Roaring '20s than the world today. On "Paradise Wobble," she gives us a taste of the bygone era she pines for. Together with her Parlor Boys, a group of enthusiastic archival musicians, she has tenaciously re-recorded forgotten jazz tunes from 1919 through the '30s.
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Feb 20, 2002
Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra
For those lucky enough to catch a live performance of Japanese jazz-animals Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra, one look at the legion of raised microphones in the crowd is enough to reassure that recordings of the orchestra aren't in short supply. Fans seem to collect and trade bootlegs like comics or Star Wars figures. However, "Shibu-Hata" -- last month's official live release -- is easily a cut above the usual swapping fodder. In fact, this baby deserves its own glass display case.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Feb 13, 2002
Monoland: 'Cooning'
What the Berliner four-piece Monoland are doing with atmospheric rumbling and washes of distortion is not completely new to modern music. The confluence of dreamy vocals and sonic thunderclap recalls the short-lived shoegazer movement of the late '80s to mid-'90s. It was then that bands like Ride and Curve played pop harmonies under ringing feedback at such ear-splitting decibels that all instrumentation bled together into one fluid, palpable sound.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Jan 23, 2002
Money Mark
Since breaking out on his own in 1995, Money Mark, the "fourth Beastie Boy," has evolved his organ/keyboard-based grooves from short, funky thumbnail-sketches and lo-fi pop to loose, jazzy soul-jams.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Jan 9, 2002
Le Tigre: 'Feminist Sweepstakes'
Mixing music and politics can yield uncertain results. In the hands of some artists, this volatile concoction can move the masses (John Lennon, Public Enemy, U2), while in the hands of others, it can come off as merely preachy and annoying (Consolidated, Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy, U2). On "Feminist Sweepstakes," the sophomore release from her band Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna shows a knack for both.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Dec 26, 2001
Tuesday Weld: 'At the House of Clerkenwell Kid'
For film buffs, the name Tuesday Weld evokes memories of the blonde bombshell who starred in 1960s and '70s films like "Sex Kittens Go to College," "Pretty Poison" and "I Walk the Line." Stephen Coates, aka (The real) Tuesday Weld, must have been a fan. His music encapsulates her work: sumptuous and seductive.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Dec 12, 2001
The Silver Jews: 'Bright Flight'
David Berman's band suffers from an image problem. People are confused by the name, The Silver Jews (a reference to The Silver Apples and slang for Jewish people with blonde hair). Moreover, the music press seems convinced that they're a side project of influential indie-rockers, Pavement. True, Berman created The Silver Jews with friends and Pavement members Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich. But the personal, alt-country sound that came from The Jews was all Berman's own.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Dec 5, 2001
Five Deez: 'Koolmotor'
Anyone tired of hip-hop's "gangstafication" has had it rough at the record store this year. It seemed the age of slick jazz samples, mellow vibes and higher-mindedness had all but drowned in (or become inebriated on) the 40-ounce bottle of thug-rap.
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Nov 14, 2001
Jim O'Rourke: 'Insignificance'
Jim O'Rourke has been around the block. A seminal postclassical composer, he can boast more than just the occasional side project. Indeed, if you add together the number of his solo albums and his collaborations and guest recordings with other bands, his output goes into the triple digits. He has placed his fingers in other pies as well, producing and remixing the work of artists such as Stereolab, Cake, Jesus Lizard, Kid Loco and The High Llamas. All this, and he's only 30.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Nov 7, 2001
Empire State: 'Eternal Combustion'
If necessity is the mother of invention, then boredom is its long-lost uncle. Having grown bored with the present state of indie music, the experimentalist, postrock three-piece Empire State found inspiration by building their own instruments. Dr. Seuss-like contraptions such as "whirling xylo-cans" and "oscillator boxes" intermingle with more traditional fare on their second release on Warm records, "Eternal Combustion." The result is an unconventional mix of dreamy pop, hypnotic electronica and bizarre instrumentation.
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Oct 24, 2001
Bill Callahan: 'Rain on Lens'
Bill Callahan isn't known for his bright, cheery outlook on life. Nor is he known for making slick, glossy overtures with his musical vehicle, Smog. With "Rain on Lens," his latest release, Callahan remains true to form, delivering the stripped-down, somber rock that made him one of the founders of the lo-fi movement.
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Oct 17, 2001
Money Mark: 'Change Is Coming'
Those familiar with Money Mark's funky, retro-keyboard dabbling might not initially notice the new direction hinted at in the title of his latest, third album. But rest assured, a second listen to "Change Is Coming" reveals subtle enhancements to his signature deep grooves and smooth vibes, making it Money Mark's most solid work to date.
CULTURE / Music
Oct 3, 2001
The rebirth of cool
It's 30 minutes until showtime and the dark, cramped nightclub is already way past the fire chief's recommended maximum capacity. College students elbow their way through the wall of bodies toward the front, while gentlemen with salted beards and sports coats settle near the back with scotch and sodas. Gradually, more than a dozen musicians meander in, filling a rickety stage that takes up the Spartan club. They begin to fiddle with their instruments onstage and do a final mike-check. Fans in the audience do mike-checks of their own, making sure that the mini-microphones clipped to their shirts and backpacks are connected to their MD players, ready to record.
CULTURE / Music / HIGH NOTES
Sep 26, 2001
John Linnel & John Flansburgh: 'Mink Car'
Since their early albums "Lincoln" and "Flood," John Linnell and John Flansburgh, the self-appointed supercilious music nerds of They Might Be Giants, have displayed a remarkable talent for straddling the fence between disdain for and celebration of the pop tune. Usually sweet and upbeat on the surface, their lyrics contain a level of sarcasm that becomes the spoonful of medicine to make the sugar go down.
LIFE / Food & Drink
Aug 26, 2001
Sips of high-grade tranquillity
In parts of Asia, tea is more than a mere beverage: It is a social lubricant, a sacrament of complex rituals and a vital part of national identity. Throughout history, farmers and philosophers alike have treasured a steaming cup of cha. While there is some evidence of tea's health benefits, there is little debate over the calming effects gained from just a few warming sips. It has been said that "tea is drunk to forget the din of the world."

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on