CDs & DVDs

The Mootekkis debut their latest slab of raunch

Being an expat rocker in Japan means you can get away with a lot more than back home—after all they won’t understand anything anyway right? Exhibit A: The Mootekkis’ shameless use of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” riff as the intro for “Public Displays of Affection” off their new album Heckling the Dawn. Exhibit B: lines like “I’m a broken man, let me love you till the morning” on “The Whiskey.” Yet when they’re delivered with as big a wink as The Mootekkis’, and with as wide a grin and knowing a leer as frontman Mike Hannah’s, it’s hard not to grab a drink and get into the spirit…which is precisely what folks will be doing at the release party for Heckling the Dawn. Hosted by local ink artist and DJ Adam3 (who also provides the cover art to the new album), the night “Lucid” will also feature performances by “heavy metal pro wrestler” Lady Beard. Best yet, it’s free.



By: Dan Grunebaum | Jan 13, 2014 | No Comments | 2,103 views

CDs & DVDs

Asia expats head back to the chillout room

Almost a full generation since the first Western tripsters blissed out to sunrises on the Eastern beaches of Goa and Koh Phangan—and 13 years since their last album—Padmasana take up where they left off, providing the sonic downward glidepath for nights of electronic music and mind expansion. The duo of veteran Asia hands and occasional co-producers Gio Makyo and David Hikari (both at times Tokyo residents), with spiritual advisor S. Widi, expertly guide listeners on mood journeys via tracks such as “Transition” and “Vibration.” The musical references are as much to Indian ragas and Jamaican dub as they are a knowing wink to the 90s ambient house of The Orb or Subsurfing. The intriguing aspect of Padmasana 2.0 is that the music sounds good even without the presumed benefits of ecstasy or LSD. Is this because it brings the listener back to a certain time and place? Or because well-produced chillout music was always mind-expanding enough for it to stand alone?


By: Dan Grunebaum | Jan 7, 2014 | No Comments | 1,090 views

CDs & DVDs

Techno innovator Ken Ishii exhumes his underground avatar Flare

Courtesy of Sublime Records

In 1993 Ken Ishii debuted on Europe’s R&S imprint, becoming the first Japanese to make his mark on the international dance music scene. 20 years later, and following last year’s more commercial Metropolitan Harmonic Formula outing, he returns to his underground roots, reviving the Flare moniker under which he made more experimental music in the 90s. Dots will bring listeners of a certain age back to fabled Tokyo techno temple Maniac Love, where so many Japanese producers discovered the new religion of electronic music. Propulsive beats (“Manic State Survivor”) and bleepy melodies (“6dot4”) reign supreme. At the same time the two-part “Northbound”’s spacious atmospheres sound very much au courant with the Aughties minimal techno scene. Newcomers to the EDM scene will hopefully even use Ishii’s new album to connect the, um, dots between electronic music’s past and present.

DJ “P.O.W.E.R.”@ Vision, Sep 21 and Reel Up@Womb, Oct 12.

By: Dan Grunebaum | Sep 18, 2013 | No Comments | 2,187 views

CDs & DVDs

DJ Baku’s new era in Japanese breakbeats

Courtesy of Pop Group

One of Japan’s most versatile breakbeats DJs delivers a bomb in the form of his new album JapOneEra.


On his first outing in five years, Baku heads away from canned beats towards collaborations with live musicians and singers, with contributions from singer Caroline of Mice Parade, bilingual rapper Shing02, rockers N’Shukugawa Boys and funk-fusion guitarist Mabuana. Ever the versatile scratch artist and beatmaker, Baku lets his productions wander the full breadth of bass music from hip-hop to dub, drum and bass, Miami bass and dubstep. There’s scarcely a dull moment on the album, and a smile was even cracked when Shing02 dropped a line about “children of the soy.”

But as kaleidoscopic as JapOneEra is, make sure to catch Baku live on his cross-country tour—his DJ sets are even more eclectic than this wide-ranging album.

By: Dan Grunebaum | Jun 25, 2013 | No Comments | 1,266 views

CDs & DVDs

Indie icon Aiha Higurashi’s latest

UR Sensation

Alt-rock heroine Aiha Higarashi (ex-Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her) and her latest band The Girl ease out of their comfort zone on their second album UR Sensation. Where their debut Lost in Wonder stuck mostly to straightforward indie rhythms and sing-songy melodies, the new album offers a wider palette of atmospheres. On “Do What You Want To” Higurashi talk-sings like Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, while drummer Naoko Okamoto lays down a nightclub-flavored house beat on “Know Wow Wow.” Higurashi also breaks out her acoustic guitar on several numbers including the contemplative “Touch My Lips.” On “Don’t Ask Me” she plays the harried rock babe—Higurashi’s not saying she doesn’t have the answer, but issuing her admirers a command not to mess with her.

By: Dan Grunebaum | Jan 27, 2013 | No Comments | 974 views

CDs & DVDs

Golden Zero

Released in December, Golden Zero is by far the Kinlay band’s ripest album to date, a sun-drenched, feel-good listen that showcases the group’s progress since forming eight years ago. British frontman Andy MacKinlay’s vocals and lyrical content have blossomed since the last album Triple *R*, and the band itself has only grown tighter and yet, a little more playful. Recorded at KRH Studios in Harajuku, Golden Zero includes contributions by Craig Harris (Cirque du Soleil) on bass and Pochi Hayashida (arranger of Exile’s Atsushi Solo project), and makes for the perfect antidote to a long, cold winter. A stalwart of Tokyo’s expat rock scene, MacKinlay continues to host regular jam sessions at What The Dickens in Ebisu on the first Tuesday of every month.

Buy Golden Zero here

By: Lexi Coffey | Dec 26, 2012 | No Comments | 1,247 views

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