Weeks of wonder culminated in a long moment of uncertainty when Jiga + Jinno of Analog Pussy took the stage back on April 9 at Cube326.
After years of storming the rest of the world and Internet with their unique live act, this was their very first performance in Japan. The G-moloch crowd on hand was primed but had little idea of what kind of show they were about to get. And an equipment delay was stretching into a few minutes, into that stifling awkward “silence” where the floor stops moving and you can hear the ringing in your ears.
The wait was worth it. In fact, it was if the music had never stopped at all.
It took less than a minute of “Molecular” (track 3 on their recently released album “Trance ‘N Roll”) to get the room jumping again. And it wasn’t long after that — even before Jiga started really jamming center stage — that the Germany-based Israeli pair realized they had a different kind of crowd on their hands.
“These kids are amazing!” she said after the show. “Such energy. It took us completely by surprise! Look at my hands — I’m still shaking! That was so incredible!”
Well, click here and you can see for yourself, in two video clips from that party.
Joining them onstage was local guitarist Sausirou, who filled in for their regular string picker after responding to a message placed on a trance bulletin board. (The trio held cyberspace rehearsals in the weeks leading up to their show and didn’t get to play together in the same room until the sound check on the night of the party.)
To say that audience contact is central to A.P. live shows is a grand understatement. Routinely, Jiga & Jinno have barriers between them and the crowd removed to bring everyone in closer. Then — and this is the part which has been embellished into urban legends implying lesbian sex on stage — “when, and if, the time is right,” Jiga takes it up a notch and will try to lure one of the females in the crowd to join her on one or two songs. It’s not a sex thing, although Jiga is incredibly sexy, it’s just “girl power, you know?”
Somebody forgot to warn them about the tendency of Japanese guys to hotdog, as evident in the video clips.
“Normally I don’t like boys on my stage. I like girls to join me, but when I invite them,” Jiga explains in an interview a few days later. “I don’t mind other people on the stage, if the stage is big enough. But it also has to be in the right moment.”
Says Jinno: “It’s not good when they start jumping around (near all the equipment), but will it change our approach when we play here again? No, not at all.
“That will never change. Analog Pussy is very much what it is, and what’s it’s known for is the live act.”
“I need to have this contact with the audience — it’s important for the show and for the party,” adds Jiga.
I first heard of Analog Pussy back in the wild days of Napster. Somebody posted a live message urging everyone to check out a “new floor-killer” called “Psycho Bitch from Hell.” I honestly thought it was a joke at first. I remember liking it at the time and thinking that the tune, the title track for A.P.’s first album, was nowhere as evil as the intriguing title.
Despite all the bad things you’ve been told about that type of downloading, Jiga + Jinno parlayed precisely this type of free global exposure from MP3 play into wild success.
They perhaps mastered the art of Internet marketing and promotion too well, according to this linked article by my new heroine Judith Lewis of the LA Weekly. (www.laweekly.com/ink/01/29/features-lewis.php)
“Psycho” was five years and three albums ago. And in the time since, A.P. has set a tough benchmark for all others on how to utilize the World Wide Web and its associated technologies for self-promotion.
On their site [www.analog-pussy.com/], you can listen to samples of all the tracks on every one of their albums. It’s practically a museum on Jiga + Jinno’s progression through various styles over the years. But don’t call it “progressive,” or even “conceptual,” because A.P. has never stopped evolving long enough for any such moniker to stick.
“Looking backward, we are always changing,” explains Jinno. “‘Psycho Bitch From Hell’ was melodic, full-on Goa-oriented. But it was at the end of the era.
“Then we moved to Germany and we changed very drastically — people were totally amazed — for the second album (“Underground, October 2001”), which was at the start of progressive psychedelic trance. But we took it so much into an extreme — very minimalist, very techno-oriented.
“What happened in the last two years was that we wanted to evolve, to create a synthesis of different things, but still stay very floor-oriented.”
They didn’t really know what would come out it. Their thinking turned to combining different elements — live instruments and percussions, not samples, vocals in different languages, etc. — in order to create an organic sound that would still fit into an acceptable framework.
“But we knew from the beginning that whatever we would do with all these sounds and ideas we were experimenting with was that it still had to be by definition ‘psychedelic trance.’ It had to be totally mutated but still not be rejected,” Jinno continues.
“It still had to be in a very clear frame, and that frame is the dance floor.”
When it all came together, the most obvious element to connect their new mutation to everything else was rock ‘n roll. “It just evolved,” says Jinno, “We didn’t plan it.”
Having already experienced a wide range of reactions to the total change in style, Jiga + Jinno were, while satisfied themselves with the new album, a bit skeptical about how it would be received.
“Trance ‘N Roll,” however, is seeing surprisingly strong sales and is being touted by distributor Cosmophilia as an “outstanding album that is already a classic.”
“I think we underestimated both the industry and the people. I thought they wouldn’t be open-minded enough to accept something new like this,” adds Jiga. “We are overwhelmed by the acceptance and it’s given us an appetite to keep going.”
“Trance ‘N Roll” bears out a unique and amusing testament to A.P.’s unfortunate experience described in Lewis’ article. Whereas most CDs have the telltale “All rights reserved” disclaimer running around the edges, Jiga + Jinno went completely in the other direction. Right in the middle of the disc it reads:
“You can rip this album to MP3 if you don’t have the money. But don’t forget to make promotion for me, ‘cos I don’t have the money . . .” — from “Psycho Punko” (track 4)
It’s not that they want to encourage illegal copying of their music, but they accept the modern reality of MP3 downloads and see it as an avenue for people to listen to more music.
“There are a lot of ways to contribute back to us,” Jiga says. “If you don’t buy our album but you like it, you’ll probably come to see us playing live, or you’ll buy our T-shirt, or you’ll hang around our Web site, where we offer one track for free download, with our personal permission to copy to all your friends.”
Putting things into perspective, the Recording Industry Association of America counts sales of 500,000 album units as being “Gold,” and 1 million units as “Platinum.” Considering the relatively small footprint of our fickle genre, it might be reasonable then to count sales of 5,000 psychedelic trance albums or CDs as “Gold” and 10,000 units as “Platinum,” although we rate much cooler metals.
That being said, “Trance ‘N Roll” should easily reach Triple Platinum, with exposure from MP3 downloads past and present responsible for inspiring a majority of sales.
Although a booking date has not yet been confirmed, Jiga + Jinno hope to return to Japan by September. Keep your eye on their Web site — and be sure to play around with the mixer! — and on their AP Records site, the home of their new label.
“Temporary Insanity,” Xerox & Illumination (HOM-mega)
Outstanding! This debut joint venture album by Moshe Keinan (Xerox) and Amir Dvir (Illumination), released in May by Vision Quest, will likely stand as Trance Album of the Year for 2004.
An ingenious mixture of driving baselines, big kick drums, uplifting melodies and crunchy sounds, “Temporary Insanity” has been blowing people away all spring. The killer opening track, “3D,” has the most lethal drop out ever to hit Tokyo dance floors. DJs will find all nine tracks entirely mixable.
Keinan and Dvir joined forces in 2002 and have released tracks on compilations for several labels, including T.I.P world, HOM-mega, Millennium and Zodiac Music. They have created in this epic an entirely new formula for raw Israeli full-on psychedelic trance that fits both the nighttime and after-hours mood.
“The Usual Suspects vol. 2,” compiled by Dimitri D.K.N. (Solstice Music)
The huge contrast between this release and Dimitri’s first “Usual Suspects” is evidence of how far we’ve traveled since summer 2002.
“Vol. 2” is a much deeper and darker ride, and loaded with surprises that really start to unfold on subsequent play. It’s also not a full compilation, which will give it more appeal to listeners and make it easier for DJs.
Contributing on this one are Astrix (with Dimitri), GBU, Antidote, Oforia, Sub6 and Talamasca for their own tracks, and team-ups of Wrecked Machines with GMS and Joti, Deedrah with Talamasca and GMS with Silicon Sound.
“Electric Shock Treatment, First and Second Sessions” Doof Records
The Doof Project is a nonprofit organization based in Israel that has been making underground psy-trance parties for about six years. Its recently created record label has succeeded in adding “real desert psychedelia” to our twisted vernacular, or at least to mine.
This enticing mesh by lesser-known artists (in Japan) is right on time for summer and screams to be played outdoors at night, preferably under a full moon. That’s where your mind is going to go anyway. Don’t try to fight it — give in as “e.s.t.” plows fresh furrows across your lobes.
Each disc comes with nine mind-expanding doses, and although it appears the sessions are being sold separately, you really need both CDs to experience the full treatment. You can find samples for the First Session here, and for the Second Session here.
Doof Records kindly includes DJ sleeves for each CD, but the BPMs are not listed anywhere, which puts the onus on your brain to determine how fast you’re going.
On the Second Session, the layered basslines in Entropy’s “Pedro,” make it sound just as fast as the Nexus (“Observe the Darkness”) and Zebra-N (“Man on a Mission”) tracks. But the BPM meter on my mixer measures about 140 for “Pedro” and about 145 for the other two.
The crowd Down Under has already enjoyed this stuff during their summer season while we were freezing, so it’s time to catch up!
“The Second Law of Thermodynamics,” Entropy (Doof Records)
Two years in the making, this just-released album by Omer & Pitt adds continuity to the Kopsses project, but much darker and more mysterious.
Entropy not only differs from the pair’s previous project, it also takes your nighttime passion into unexplored territory. If the deep vibe in Doof’s “e.s.t.” compilations appeals to you, then “Second Law” will make for a nice followup.
An additional note of credit goes to Omer & Pitt and Doof for not repeating any Entropy tracks or remixes thereof on the “e.s.t.” compilation. This is tasty new stuff.
Since the last installment of this commentary, there have been three standout live sets in Tokyo that must be documented for the sake of the permanent online record.
Skazi, April 23 at Zepp Tokyo – More than 3,000 people packed into Zepp for Vision Quest’s “Prophecy” party, and Skazi took control of every body from the packed floor all the way to the rafters. The auditorium was a sea of pumping arms and screaming heads. They finished this mind-blowing set with an unforgettable moment as Infected Mushroom’s Duvdev climbed up on a pedestal to wail out the vocals to Skazi’s “Playing the Game” classic. (Who knew this guy could sing like this?)
Psycraft, May 8 at Club Citta – Psycraft’s debut set in Japan also marked the release of their second album “New Moves.” Mother Records assembled the best party I’ve ever experienced at Citta and Psycraft’s Alon Algrasi and Nir Sadon left people gaping.
Exaile, May 30 at Zepp Tokyo – This was a Sunday afternoon party by Sirius that unfortunately didn’t draw in too many people. But those who did show were rewarded with the best Exaile set I’ve ever experienced. The first half of the set highlighted their twin guitar tracks. Hearing “Radio Edit” performed live for the first time left me lightheaded.
TRANCE ON YOUR RADIO?
Yeah, no kidding! Since April in fact, on InterFM (76.1 MHz) every Saturday night from midnight to 2 a.m. And not some corny cyber-trance imitation either — this is the real deal.
Presented by trancejapan.com and hosted by DJ Filiz, the June 12 program intro’d with 1200 Mics’ “Mescaline” and after a lot of talk got around to a hot Melicia track. Later in the program was an interview with Atomic Pulse and a mix by Domino.
It’s completely understandable how I missed this development. Not owning a radio, I long ago dismissed it as a totally useless and annoying medium. Plus, the show comes on at midnight on Saturday, which is cool if you’re at work, or driving, or at home.
It took an hour to get used to Feliz’s bouncy chattiness — it’s radio, Jeff, remember? — but she does offer the occasional English explanation, and she takes requests at firstname.lastname@example.org and offers up club info.
The Second Room salutes Bryan Burton-Lewis and the gang at trancejapan.com for getting us on the air.
ON THE PARTY RADAR
“Richtorscale,” by Sequence Music at Differ Ariake.
Sequence brings Yahel (Phonocol Records) back to Japan after a very long absence, along with Jirah (USTA Records) and Trinitix (Sigma Records). DJ sets by Zoo-B, Yo and Tanny.
The Japan debut of Seattle-based artist Jirah has been long in the making, following the release of his first album, “Outer Access,” in early 2003. Prepare yourself for an uplifting psychedelic joyride.
Opens at 10 p.m. Advance tickets are 4,500 yen, or 5,000 yen at the door.
“Summer Arcade,” by Arcadia Music
To find out where this festival is going to be, you will have to keep an eye on the Arcadia Music Web site. There is no price listed yet, either.
Highlighting the lineup for this mouthwatering monster mid-summer event are live acts Absolum, Electric Universe, SAFI Connection, Space Tribe, S.U.N. Project, plus DJ sets by Domino, Jorg, Christof, Boris Glenn and Olli Wisdom, “and more,” promises the preliminary flyer.
Typically, “Summer Arcade” has been an August festival. With the Fuji Rock Festival starting only two weekends later in Naeba, it’s doubtful that we’ll be going back there this year.
Considering that there has been no information yet from Solstice Music on the promised return of the Solstice Music Festival, you might want to keep some ticket money set aside, as advanced sales for this event could turn into a feeding frenzy.
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