Nothing lost in the digital translation

Music | PLAY BUTTON Jan 4, 2004

Nothing lost in the digital translation

by Suzannah Tartan

Sitting in his record distributor's office in a small house in Naka-Meguro, Riow Arai is ostensibly being interviewed. But he isn't answering questions, he is asking them. His latest album, "Device People," is about to be released in Britain, and with only a faint knowledge ...

In a community of like-minded spirits

Music | PLAY BUTTON Nov 9, 2003

In a community of like-minded spirits

by Suzannah Tartan

Psychedelia, for most people, was all about bad fashion and, of course, bad trips. The loud paisley ties long ago made their way to secondhand shops, though. And with a few exceptions, the music has been consigned to "influence" status. An astute listener can detect ...

The incredible remixing man

Music | PLAY BUTTON Aug 24, 2003

The incredible remixing man

by Suzannah Tartan

A good remix uncovers an element of the song that was already there so the listener perceives it in a whole new way. A bad remix often ends up as a vehicle for someone else's ego, with the original becoming so contorted and manipulated ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Jun 22, 2003

Complacency-bustin' beats

by Suzannah Tartan

Despite the slowly growing hype around DJ Klock, he arrives at for the interview, not with a label rep, but with his wife, Yuki. At the office of his small record company, Clockwise, he even answers the phone. His music provides the same sort of ...

The wandering laptop minstrel

Music | PLAY BUTTON Apr 27, 2003

The wandering laptop minstrel

by Suzannah Tartan

With his long black hair pulled back in a tight, neat ponytail and his pale complexion, electronica musician Nobukazu Takemura has an otherworldly quality somewhere between a computer geek and a monk. That he lives and works in Kyoto seems entirely fitting. During an interview ...

A beautiful day in the life of sound

Music | PLAY BUTTON Mar 23, 2003

A beautiful day in the life of sound

by Suzannah Tartan

The phone line buzzes, the electric heater drones and the pitter-patter of rain can be heard in the background. Not the perfect sonic environment for a phone interview, but for Yuko Kitamura, it is perfect. "It's beautiful. I wish I could record it!" she says ...

A rare chance to tap into Cat Power

Music | PLAY BUTTON Jan 26, 2003

A rare chance to tap into Cat Power

by Suzannah Tartan

Chan Marshall sits in her record company's office toying with a partially eaten apple. It is a fitting symbol. In Tokyo to promote her new album under the Cat Power moniker, "You Are Free," Marshall (first name pronounced Shawn) is dealing with her own ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Nov 24, 2002

Pulsating with rock, reality

by Suzannah Tartan

To describe the dizzy thrill of Sleater-Kinney, one has to reach back to the bristling energy of early rock 'n' roll. Think of Chuck Berry cackling the words to "Maybelline." Think of Wanda Jackson's redemptive howl. Think of Muddy Waters' deliberate spelling of "M-A-N," ...

Sound in all the right places

Music | PLAY BUTTON Oct 27, 2002

Sound in all the right places

by Suzannah Tartan

Quality control is something few recording artists manage gracefully. What back catalog doesn't contain its share of half-realized (or half-baked) ideas or downright duds? Avant-garde musicians, with their preference for music's lawless outer fringes, are often the worst offenders: producing masturbation masquerading as music. Thus ...

The building blocks of a good scene

Music | PLAY BUTTON Sep 22, 2002

The building blocks of a good scene

by Suzannah Tartan

As the torpor of summer dissipates into autumn's more tolerable temperatures, the music scene moves from the beaches of Shonan and the foothills of Fuji back into its dark and dank urban recesses. Tokyo's music scene continues to be fractured. The only trend is that ...