This week I have been on a mission to dig into Japan and bring you 4 tunes from Japanese artists. So much of Japanese culture is inaccessible to the non Japanese-speaking world. There are many things that Japan has brought to the rest of the world, from its food to literature and art but still there are many examples in the arts where the language barrier is too hard to climb. This is a shame of course as Japan has much to offer in is musical repertoire. What tends to be exposed on a global stage is the kitsch, the bizarre or the unfathomable. The J-Pop and idol culture which is hard to comprehend in the west and rarely delivers anything with musically artistic depth – as this is not its want. However, scratch below the surface and part the hordes of cookie cutter ídols and you find a wide array of genres and musicians of real talent, producing some complex and sometimes downright brilliant music. And really that shouldn’t be a surprise.
I”l start you off with Ogre You Asshole. If internet lore has this right then Eric Judy, the bassist from Modest Mouse, wrote this line from the film ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ on Ogre Drummer Arata Nishi’s arm in lieu of an autograph. While drunk. As if that were important. Anyway this pop/jazz/indie band have crafted some cheeky little tunes like this one and are worth investigating further.
The fin are seemingly more accessible as they write all of their songs in English and have some clear musical links to influences in the west like M83 & Phoenix. This song ‘Outskirts’ is one of my favourites off the 2018 album ‘There’
Metro-Ongen formed in Tokyo in 2002 and haven’t released anything I can find since their 2011 album ‘Eden’. Silent Orange is the title track from their first album and sounds strangely familiar – I thought it was a a Wolf Alice track when I first heard the intro.
Last but by no means least is the catchy track 1984 by AndyMori. Formed in 2007 in Tokyo and split in 2014 the band produced 4 albums. This tune is notably one of their slower ones and there is a lot of good energy in the rest of their material which is worth tapping into.
This week you get a bonus track. During my research I stumbled across this video of Scary Bomb by Zainichi Funk which is just too special to leave out. Enjoy!