It’s hard for me to separate Mick’s past from the work you’ll hear in Titles. Still impossibly underrated and unaccounted for — compared to the actual influence he put in motion — there is just something truly unique found in the late Mick Karn’s bass technique, musicality, and ideas. Titles, his first solo work after leaving Japan, further cemented just how far forward whatever he was doing wasn’t meant to jive with whatever would go on then.

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Série Réflexion 1

Here’s another worthy album for the canon of Japanese minimalism, Oscilation Circuit’s Série Réflexion 1. Released in 1984, by Sound Process, ostensibly a new part or truncation of Satoshi Ashikawa’s “Wave Notation” series, Série Réflexion 1 perfectly presents another facet of the label’s promotion of minimal music. This time around we get a feel of livelier stuff than any of the other records in this series.

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A mix of white and black. A mix of religion and spirituality. A mix of cultures, class, and race. Brazilian Bahian musical group Grupo Zambo does its best to look beyond miscegenation, to really get to the root of Brazilian musical folklore and experimentation. Bahia, Grupo Zambo, quite rightfully, holds a mystical memory to anyone who has heard it. The sounds of otherworldly Afro-Brazilian chants communing with barely there maximum-minimal percussion has obvious roots in the pioneering work of Baden Powell and Vinicius Moraes’s Os Afro Sambas. Here, though, the trickle of information gleamed from that excursion bursts forth into a full wound, opening up to this whole other world of exploration of what true, Bahian music was and how it could still be taken even further.

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Who can argue that an apple falls far from its tree after listening to Demo Tape 1Demo Tape 1 was a compilation of music curated by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Akito Yano for their Midi Inc. label. The premise was simple: ask anyone who tuned in to Ryuichi’s ongoing NHK radio program “Sound Street” to send a cassette demo of theirs. Personally sifting through all the submissions, Ryuichi would then pick the cream of the crop and release this album as a thank you for all the listeners who had stuck around through all his programs. The premise was simple but the output of Ryuichi’s call-to-action still remains startling.

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Altas Planicies

Gabriela Marrone’s Altas Planicies is the very quiet work of a true pioneer. Born of rural, Argentinian descent, but cosmopolitan via adolescent growth, Gabriela took what could have been a forgettable life as a diplomat’s daughter and used it as a way to develop personally into the inspirational force she came to be.

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mix8wa

We can affect change or be an effect of change. These ideas, proposed wonderfully in Charles Demuth’s Spring, moved me to take up a call from Zattirizat to create a playlist for their brilliant guest mix series. Umut from Zattirizat got me thinking: What can I do to move your needle? To do so, I had to affect another alignment. How about a collection of things presenting ideas of new, alternate, Japanese, musical idea?

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Tread lightly, oh you who hate slap bass. Jorge Degas and Marcelo Salazar’s positively radiant Muxima has only two roles pushing all songs along: drum and percussion. Apropos they would remix Matisse’s “The Dance” into their own Afro-centered interpretative design. Deep, deep, Brazilian jazz funk that frequently oversteps its boundaries to go into the realm of minimalism, fourth world, and all sorts of other places, to label the music of Muxima “Jazz” or “funk” would be to poorly signify what they’re attempting to accomplish.

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yoko ueno voices

What a perfect image. Even William Blake must be blushing at Masumi Hara’s otherworldly portrait for Yoko Ueno’s Voices. Feminine angels (bearing more than just their souls), perfectly trapezing on man-made wires, as ever darkening skies, grow ever more, endlessly, on some barren land. Mystical and philosophical, through one image Yoko Ueno’s Voices had its frame. Inside the frame, musical portraiture of Yoko Ueno’s own creative growth is bared through the entirety of personal eccentricities, ingenuity, and histories. Each song in Voices is named after a woman, in Voices (more importantly) each song was written, produced, and performed entirely by this woman.

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/ January 23, 2018 / Comments Off on Chinatsu Kuzuu: The City In The Sea (1991)

Chinatsu Kuzuu: The City In The Sea (1991)

My mind races trying to describe Chinatsu Kuzuu’s music. Should I share with y’all my first impressions? First, I hear the voice of June Tambor as transferred to a young woman (around her age) in Tokyo. Then, I hear the Gaelic fantasy music of Horslips, mutated through the introduction of digital polysynths, drum machines, and samplers. As my thinking speeds forward, I have to stop short and remind myself: all of this music was actually created by one person, seemingly, seriously divorced from whatever influences she’s putting forth. The City in the Sea is an album of unlikely marriages; its the marriage of Japanese techno-pop with English Neofolk music set to the poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson and Edgar Allen Poe, done in such a way that is awesomely fascinating and brilliant. I would have to imagine I’m dreaming if such an album, done by such an artist like Chinatsu Kuzuu would exist, if it, in fact, didn’t. It does, and boy is it special.

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/ January 19, 2018 / Comments Off on Kaoru Todoroki: カルビンおじさんの 私生活 (Uncle Calvin’s Private Life) (1985)

Kaoru Todoroki: カルビンおじさんの 私生活 (Uncle Calvin’s Private Life) (1985)

First off, I have to apologize for the lo-fi quality of this recording. Unless your name is Masaki Eguti or you are Kaoru Todoroki, most likely, you’ll never happen upon the original cassette recording of this truly audacious release. The only source for this audio is Kaoru’s (?) own Real Audio files uploaded to a long forgotten website a decade ago. However, let’s tackle this music with feeling and forget about fidelity. Much like Ernest Hood’s Neighborhoods, Kaoru Todoroki’s カルビンおじさんの 私生活 (Uncle Calvin’s Private Life) has all the hallmarks of being something unique, even for its own time. Touching on nostalgia and innocence in his own weird, but oddly mystifying way, Kaoru somehow found a niche in 1985 — on a label that was releasing Merzbow meanderings, of all things… — to join all sorts of ideas he had in his head of the music of Van Dyke Parks, the Residents, Brian Eno, and new school Japanese techno-pop or new age music coming together into its own intriguing thing.

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