"You should be able to go into any sort of club and not be sure exactly what to expect," says Keith Gordon of Okinawan-styled electronic duo Ryukyu Underground, as he sits drinking tea in his record label's office in Aoyama, central Tokyo. "You should be surprised every once in a while."

He's talking about the difference between Japan's more laid-back approach to musical genres compared with the highly tribal pressure-cooker of the U.K. music scene in which he grew up. Coming of age musically as an arty David Bowie fan during the first wave of punk in the late 1970s, Gordon felt a bit out of sync with the mods and metalheads around him.

"I was labeled a poof," he admits. "That's how it is in England, especially in Newcastle, where I grew up."