J-tech pioneer returns with album and tour


It’s unusual for an exponent of techno music — often decried as a somehow unartistic form of music — to be enthusiastically embraced by the establishment, but DJ Ken Ishii has achieved exactly that.

Five years after his much-heralded 1993 debut, “Garden on the Palm,” Ishii was asked to create the official theme song for the Winter Olympics in Nagano, and in 2000 was featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine. Last year he composed and produced the music for the Seto-Nippon Pavilion at the World Expo in Aichi.

Now, this standard bearer for Japanese electronica is embarking on a nationwide tour to promote his new album “Sunriser.” As the title suggests, the disc, his first release in four years, sees Ishii move away from the dark, minimalist techno of early releases to a breezier, more melodic and textured sound that he’d already experimented with on 2002’s “Future In Light.”

Ishii’s status as one of Japan’s most high-profile DJs has him in demand for overseas gigs, and tours abroad have forged friendships with several high-profile techno proponents, some of whom he has enlisted for collaborations on his latest recording. Among the talents featured on “Sunriser” are the U.K.’s Funk D’Void and Belgian Fabrice Lig.

Also appearing on the album are Sapporo techno duo 7th Gate, who join the release tour at Ageha in Shin-Kiba, Tokyo, on Nov. 17 (11 p.m. start) along with Detroit techno godfather Carl Craig, Shin Nishimura and others. Tickets are 3,500 yen at the door. The tour then continues to Kyoto’s World (Nov. 18), Ozon in Nagoya (Nov. 24), Oita’s Freedom (Nov. 25) and Air in Fukuoka on Dec. 1. For more info, visit www.kenishii.com