Mad Max: Beyond the laptop

Music | PLAY BUTTON Aug 25, 2002

Mad Max: Beyond the laptop

by Suzannah Tartan

Postmodern hijinks have become such a staple of contemporary pop music that genre bending and blending are hardly news anymore. What artist hasn't ransacked the back catalog of some long-lost funk or soul label, or lifted grooves from obscure jazz hepcats or, for the ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Jul 28, 2002

Getting their message across

by Suzannah Tartan

Hip-hop commentators talk a lot about roots: about old school roots and neighborhood roots and ultimately roots in Africa. Though hip-hop has flourished in Japan, much of it is distinctly rootless, imitating the goofy antics of The Beastie Boys or the street-savvy poses of ...

Phew: There and back again

Music | PLAY BUTTON May 26, 2002

Phew: There and back again

by Suzannah Tartan

Hiromi Moritani looks like a typical, well-heeled matron. Her chic black ensemble is a touch artier than the average mother's wardrobe, but sitting in her record label's office, her conversation dwells on the perils and pitfalls of being a mom. Hearing her fret over ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Mar 24, 2002

Music, an improvised definition

by Suzannah Tartan

Improvised music poses a considerable critical challenge. It now takes in such a wide variety of styles -- from jazz to minimalist electronica, from contemporary classical music to rock -- there is no one absolute set of criteria by which to judge it. What is ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Feb 24, 2002

The method to the madness

by Suzannah Tartan

Like Bauhaus architecture or a Charles Eames chair, Stereolab is retro yet refreshingly new. Beneath the surface of their shiny, polished pop, the lilting melodies of '60s lounge music, the drone of German progressive rock and the lightest hint of dance-floor beats coexist in ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Jan 27, 2002

Yuji Katsui: An anomaly on the dance floor

by Suzannah Tartan

Whether jamming with techno-trance outfit Rovo in front of a seething dance floor, adding to the psychedelic vibe of prog-rockers Bondage Fruit or frolicking in the pop carnival of Demi Semi Quaver, Yuji Katsui is something of an anomaly. With all these groups, the ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Dec 16, 2001

Japan gets into the swing of things

by Suzannah Tartan

The swing revival never really got going in Japan. Maybe it was an age thing. Though Japanese young people cotton on to nearly every American trend, swing wasn't quite a product of youth culture. Instead, it was championed by folks who listened to Nirvana ...

Where the twains meet and swing

Music | PLAY BUTTON Nov 25, 2001

Where the twains meet and swing

by Suzannah Tartan

Certain musical phrases, combinations of notes, chord changes and rhythms appear consistently in the folk music of Hungary, Turkey and China. As tribes migrated out of the Russian steppes thousands of years ago into Eastern Europe, northern China and Mongolia, they took their music with ...

Music | PLAY BUTTON Oct 28, 2001

A rough guide to the indies

by Suzannah Tartan

Japan's indie music scene is a fractured miasma of competing and collaborating subgenres. The sheer number of bands is, as anyone who has looked at Pia's live house listings recently, overwhelming. Like a fan searching for a hidden venue in the twisted back streets ...