Blog - June 2008 Archives
June 2008 Archives
.30 Kawashima Circulation Bus Line live report
.25 Norton Fighter
.21 Candle Night
.15 arcorhyme afternoon live at Grand Cru (vol.4): report
.15 tron event: report
.13 Know your email address
.11 Zonies live: report
.08 arcorhyme live and workshop vol.2: report
.04 Hasegawa Kiyoshi live recording: report
June 30, 2008
Kawashima Circulation Bus Line live report
On Saturday night we went to Enban to see Kawashima Circulation Bus Line, the new unit of Hosaka Akane with DJ Peaky.
First of all I enjoyed a performance by Enban's Taguchi Fumihito. He used a special set of 7" record with some polygon-shaped mirror box on top, each mirror reflects a horse and cowboy printed on the picture disk, each of them in a different position. When spinning this makes the mirror box look like a merry-go-round! Additionally he used a stroboscope on the toy to make the animation effect look better, and he filmed the result with a camera, processed the output and projected it on the wall! That's not all, he also played music from the 7" and also another colorful 12" picture disk, both had circus-like music, and put all sorts of effects on it. Quite strange but very beautiful result!
The 7"+merry-go-round kit had a Japanese song on it, so it must have been retailed in Japan some long time ago. Awesome!
Next up was KCBL. Akane and DJ Peaky removed their shoes and sat on their little carpets just like if they were home. All the sound came from 3 Casio VL-TONE's (one of them looked like some sort of variation), which 2 microphones amplified in a stereo setup. The keyboards were often used to play different beats at different tempos, while the two played melodies on top of that, much of which was improvised. While this would usually be a perfect recipe for cacophony, it was somehow quite soothing and almost succeeded at putting us to sleep. :)
They said that this time the concept was just to bring a jam session like they'd do at home. I'm looking forward to what they will do next.
Below is a short video (although it's mono and lacks the stereo effect). Beware, it's not a reference for those who have yet to discover Hosaka Akane's great music (album "Niko Niko Denki Muzic" on sale now!).
Last up was Aze, who we had seen before at loop-line a year ago (at another event where Akane performed). This time their set was quite different though. They projected a DVD showing scenes made with shadows involving animal characters, and while the film played they added music on top with their guitars, clarinet, piano, recorders, and a variety of toys. That was very nice!
Bonus: some cat watching we enjoyed on the same day, from our porch and also in Asagaya. It seems to be the season when young kittens are born, as there are a lot around everywhere!
June 25, 2008
Today I was waiting for a friend in front of Alta in Shinjuku, and I couldn't help but notice this gigantic ranger-style hero standing outside of the Kabukichō exit..!
This is Norton Fighter, advertising Norton's security software. They're really giving this promotion all what they've got! Then again, this doesn't look so out of place in Japan, right? :)
I'm quite happy with this picture, with the yellow, pink and blue tones, and also it looks quite odd that nobody on there seems to be noticing or caring about the huge mascot.
June 21, 2008
Tonight (June 21) was Candle Night, an effort suggesting to turn off the lights and use candles instead for two hours from 20:00, to save electricity. I had heard of this at a few places, one of these being our local community yoga class where we've been a few times. Lately the class is held in a Japanese room with tatami and shōji (the sliding door-like "curtains"), which feels very nice for yoga.
The class today was held from 19:00 to 20:30, and while the lights are usually dim, from 20:00 the teacher lit up the candles brought by students instead.
Well it was only a 30 minute contribution, but still. :) For those in the western world, it might still be time to participate.
June 15, 2008
arcorhyme afternoon live at Grand Cru (vol.4): report
Today was the 4th time arcorhyme played their monthly afternoon show at Après-midi Grand Cru in Shibuya. I went there with my friend Miwa-chan, and upon entering the elevator we met Naoto-san and his friend, and soon after solange et delphine's Hase-san and Yumi-chan. Sally Kubota (Sally Soul Stew, Les 5-4-3-2-1) was also there!
When we got there, the place was full, mostly with people finishing their lunch (it was near 1pm). We were going to enjoy the first set while standing, but some people left and we had enough tables to all get seated together. We enjoyed the show while eating pasta and chatting together.
This time, arcorhyme were accompanied by Kuricorder Quartet's Kawaguchi Yoshiyuki who played saxophone, harmonica, cajón and other percussions. Young bassist Karibu-kun also accompanied on a few songs.
Today they really gave it all on the request cover side, with 5 fulfilled requests! Kaji Hideki's debut single was a lot of fun, and also I really liked "momen no Hankerchief" and "kimi naki sekai". Here are both full set lists.
Set #1 (from 13:00): arcorhyme's amai hibi (from album "la douce vie") / Kaji Hideki's La Boom ~datte My Boom Is Me~ / Hayase Yukako's Glass no Replicant / Ohta Hiromi's momen no Hankerchief / Yuming's kimi naki sekai / arcorhyme's aoi neko (from album "la douce vie")
Set #2 (from 14:00): John Sebastian's Do you believe in magic? (covered by arcorhyme on album "la douce vie") / kimi naki sekai / Glass no Replicant / momen no Hankerchief / Minami Saori's sakanatachi wa doko e / aoi neko
Those were two nice sets, a bit more lively than usual because of the percussions. On my way out I bought some random idol LP from Takanami Records (Takanami-san's record flea market), Yoshimoto Miyoko's "Surf Wind" (¥300).
arcorhyme's next show will be on Sunday July 20. Same time, same place.
On my way back to Shibuya station, I found this space invader somewhere near the Seibu parking.
Oh and by the way to get to Shibuya I used the new metro line, called Fukutoshin! It's now the cheapest and easiest and fastest way to get to Shibuya from my place (not counting the fact that I have a commuter pass using another line). The train felt rather normal, but the stations are so brand new and nice. However it's a bit of a walk from the Shibuya platform to Hachikō. I even lined up with the train otaku to take a photo.
Ohta Hiromi "momen no Hankerchief"
Yuming "kimi naki sekai"
tron event: report
Akane was on stage first, performing a set with her laptop, some Casios and her Stylophone. She played mostly songs from her new album, of course, and at least a new one that I hadn't heard before. The bass sounding really good at SuperDeluxe, that was a great new environment to experience her music.
Next up was guitarist/singer-songwriter Kinoshita Misato who performed just by herself. She had quite good skills and a nice voice. Her first album "umi Tokyo sayonara" is out on HEADZ.
Then it was artist Christopher Willits (MySpace) from San Francisco, who last year collaborated with Sakamoto Ryūichi for an album ("Ocean Fire" out on label commmons). He played guitar which he looped and put effects on, while playing with a Mac and what looked like a Kaos pad and some other gear. It was quite a good performance backed up with some photo slideshow video. He looked like a very nice guy. He'll be playing again on June 23 from 20:00 at the Aoyama Book Center in Roppongi for free (and meanwhile he will be in Osaka, Kyoto and Kanazawa).
Last up was FilFla, a "solo" unit of Sugimoto Keiichi (FourColor, fonica) who played guitar. The band of four played over a sometimes glitchy backtrack, adding drums, guitar, bass and some keyboards. The keyboardist girl sang on some songs in a very soft voice, at times it was clearly in Japanese, but other times I couldn't get in what language it was (then again I thought that it was better that way than if it were clearly mispronounced English, I liked to imagine that it was Swedish or something). Their sound also reminded me a little bit of Yucca (MySpace).
Of course this event was the right place to get my hands on Akane's new album. I opened it right away to get it signed! :) And not much could make me happier than finding my name in the thanks!! Order yours now at Sonore.
Last, here's a really strange-looking flower that I saw earlier in Nakano. Someone on Flickr kindly identified it for me, it's a passion flower (fr.: passiflore, ja.: トケイソウ = tokeisō), of the plant that makes passion fruits.
June 13, 2008
Know your email address
Someone has remembered their email address wrong and told everyone what's actually my Gmail address, that I've owned since the early days of Gmail. Surely he's missing a dot or a hyphen or some letter somewhere, because that address is mine and not his, and now I'm getting a lot of email directed to that person!
On another note, iTunes doesn't used what's called closed-loop email address verification. When a new user signs up and inputs an email address, usually they would receive an email asking to click an included link in order to confirm that the email address is correct, but iTunes doesn't take this precaution.
Because of that, that same person was able to sign up to iTunes with my Gmail address! The worse though is that now I'm receiving his iTunes invoice emails containing billing address, last 4 digits of credit card and of course the list of all what he's been buying.
Of course I have reported this mistake and flaw to Apple right away, and I sure hope they'll give him a quick call (hoping that he gave the right phone number). But either way I have a feeling that I won't stop getting emails intended for him...
June 11, 2008
Zonies live: report
On Sunday evening I went to see the very first show of a new band called Zonies. Led by Maezono Naoki (aka Zony), singer-songwriter who appeared on the recent columbia*readymade compilation, the band features Arai Toshiya (Missing Linc) on guitar, Matsuno Hajime (Groovin Vox) on bass, and Konishi Yasuharu on piano!!
Doors were to open at 19:00, but I had heard through the leaves that people might be lining up at Ikenoue small acoustic live bar Bobtail as early as 17:30. So I got there at 18:20 and I was happy to not be late, I was about 7th in line.
Once inside, I got an alright seat behind a lot of people who all seemed to be close friends of the band, such as the nice people from Moodsville, Tokiwa Hibiki (who recently completed an awesome book of record covers together with Konishi-san) and friends. I was happy to later find a few people who I knew too. The place got quite full at about 30+ people.
Playing first was ari, a female pianist singer-songwriter, and despite that most of the crowd was there to see Zonies she was received very warmly and she even found the bar to be strangely too quiet, everyone all ears to her music instead of drinking and chatting. She sang her own songs and also Ōnuki Taeko's "totsuzen no okurimono" (part of the recent cover album "oto no Bouquet" ).
Next up was, you guessed it, Zonies! Konishi-san sat at the piano, with bongos on a stand beside, guitar and bass sat at the back, and singer Maezono Naoki appeared wearing a black suit and hat.
Although I had seen Konishi-san playing the bass a few times before (such as with Groove Room Orchestra in 2002 and last year at Ino Hidefumi's show), it was the first time I saw him at the piano. Perhaps his playing doesn't rank up with the great pianists, but it just has that "Konishi" sound that hits home for anyone who has listened to so many songs he wrote. It was fantastic! Plus, he even sang chorus!
Back to frontman Maezono Naoki, it was the first time I saw him perform, and he truly has a great voice and charisma. He read lyrics from a little black notebook he held in his hand, and had really good interaction with the crowd. I definitely need to pick up one of his solo albums (I was recommended "kurashi no tayori" (2001) by arcorhyme's manager).
As for the set list, I couldn't remember all of it, but the show opened with a Japanese cover of Gilbert Becaud's "Marie Marie", followed by recent Konishi song "Tokyo no machi ni yuki ga furu hi...", later a song called "suki nandakara", Maezono's "suteki na anata ni", and also a cover of Pizzicato Five's "to our children's children's children"..!
Well that was an awesome show, that left me feeling like I had seen something truly rare. I'm looking forward to what will be up next from Zonies, and let's hope for a release at some point!
Update: Here's the complete set list from Maezono Naoki's report, which includes more photos.
Marie Marie / Tokyo no machi ni yuki ga furu hi, futari no koi wa owatta. / Alicante ~ yoru no Paris / watashi no suki na mono / suki nandakara / kodomotachi no kodomotachi no kodomotachi e (To our children's children's children) / suteki na anata ni / mado ni akari ga tomoru toki / Encore: watashi no suki na mono (reprise)
(And if you look closely down to the bottom of his report, you'll find a link to what you want!)
June 8, 2008
arcorhyme live and workshop vol.2: report
Tonight was arcorhyme's 2nd workshop event at café Go Slow located in Ikejiri Institute of Design. Takanami K-tarō (gutiar) and Nishimura Ikuyo (vocals) were accompanied by Hase Yasuhiro (piano, solange et delphine).
This time the "theme" song was "aoi neko" (means "blue cat") from their album "amai hibi ~la vie douce~". Like last time, there was a special cocktail of the same name, a mix of cassis liquor, Blue Curacao, grapefruit juice and soda I think. I had it, along with some chicken curry, both were great.
The event's workshop theme brings some unusual surprises, like a handwritten music sheet for "aoi neko", and also some covers of songs from K-tarō's past career. Last time we had the great surprise of a cover of Pizzicato Five's "Magical Connection", but this time we got 4(!) P5 covers!
Set #1: aoi neko / Shadow Tail / kaiten tobira / Don't you believe in magic?! / amai hibi
This first set contained "Shadow Tail" from album "Soundmatic Brain", which they played live for the first time, that was awesome! Also played was K-tarō's "kaiten tobira" from his solo album "Everybody's Out Of Town". Ikuyo had the whole audience clapping along to "Don't you believe in magic?!" and "amai hibi".
Set #2: aoi neko / Pizzicato Five's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (cover of Simon & Garfunkel) / P5's Vacance / P5's Baby Love Child / P5's Lover's Rock
As you can see, the 2nd set was stock full of P5 covers! First of these was the Simon & Garfunkel cover from the "Audrey Hepburn Complex" 12" (P5's very first release).
Next was rare song "Vacance" which was only released on live EP "Readymade Recordings e.p." This song was written by K-tarō (music and lyrics) and it was first recorded as a demo with Sakaki Mamiko singing, although the live version that was released had a very different arrangement. Here it was performed in K-tarō's original arrangement, and it really was a great song!
Last were "Baby Love Child" (from album "Sweet Pizzicato Five") and "Lover's Rock", both songs that I love very much, so I was really pleased with this fantastic set. Plus, K-tarō explained the chord progressions of each song from the 2nd set to a partly confused audience (so was Ikuyo). I must admit that although probably basic stuff, it was also a little bit over my head with tonics and dominants and subdominants. :)
Also Ikuyo explained that she mostly writes lyrics at a family restaurant, and those for "aoi neko" were written while listening to a nearby couple who were fighting.
At the end of the 2nd set, an audience member who had brought an erhu (a two-stringed Chinese instrument named "niko" in Japanese) came to the front to perform one song of her composition, slightly accompanied with the band. That was quite interesting too.
I heard somewhere that K-tarō said it was the last time he would play P5 songs, but I sure hope that's not true. Especially regarding "Vacance", I think deserves a proper release, and why not add it to arcorhyme's regular live repertory too! :)
Last, here's a not-blue cat spotted in Nakano in the afternoon.
June 4, 2008
Hasegawa Kiyoshi live recording: report
Yesterday evening I went to Ebisu for a live recording by artist Hasegawa Kiyoshi. The recordings done on June 2nd and 3rd will be used for a live album to be released on columbia*readymade in September! To attend the shows, one needed to apply on Columbia's web site, and I was happy to be selected for one of the two nights. I went there alone but in the entrance I was lucky to meet Mizue, who I had once met at New Castle's "shu-shu!" event, and her friend Kanae who claims she has seen me before at techno-pop events. :)
Hasegawa Kiyoshi (長谷川きよし) is a guitarist and singer-songwriter who debuted in 1969, he is blind since the age of 2. In his early teens he learned classical guitar and also got interested in chanson. He skillfully plays in classical styles songs ranging from chanson to samba. I'm still very new to his music, as before the show I had only heard "boku no Piano no soba ni oide" from the recent "uta to Guitar. Piano. kotoba." compilation produced by Konishi Yasuharu.
The recording was done in a nice wooden auditorium that can sit about 100 people. It's currently pictured on the columbia*readymade site's top page. There were a lot of faces from the columbia*readymade family (such as writers of the web site's daily columns), and many who seemed like important guests. Konishi-san was there too of course.
The show was split in two sets, totaling about 2 hours. Most songs were performed solo, though for half he was joined by percussionist Sendō Saori, and for a few songs also by flutist Maki. Most (if not all) songs were covers, including ones by Henri Salvador, Gilbert Becaud, Charles Aznavour, Claude François, Sheena Ringo (with who he has collaborated before), and many other Japanese artists I don't know. Most songs were sung in Japanese, foreign songs with translated lyrics, though "Fly Me To The Moon" was in English, and "J'ai vu" (and other bits) in French!
Set #1: Fly Me To The Moon / tōmei na hitotoki o / jinsei toiu na no tabi (J'ai vu) / wakare no Samba / keshō naoshi / hiki shio / ai no sanka (Hymne à l'amour) / namida
Set #2: yogorecchimatta kanashimi ni / tsukiyo no hamabe / boku no Piano no soba ni oide / tasogare no Beguine / kōen no tejinashi / chinmoku no bara / tabigeinin no Ballad / La bohème / Comme d'habitude (itsumo dōri) / ushiro sugata
Encore: sekai no hate ni / namida (Re-take)
The guitar was of course wonderful, but also his voice was really great. Even his French pronunciation was near perfect, which made me quite happy! He also spoke quite a bit between the songs and that was very enjoyable. He explained that the music of Claude François' "Comme d'habitude" is better known as Frank Sinatra's "My Way", but that he had the original French lyrics (which he prefers) translated to Japanese for his own version.
Being that it's a live show intended for recording (and not just a live recording of some live show), I expected to hear the same songs repeated several times, but no, performances were flawless, and only one was played twice. (The previous day also had some of the same songs though, it seems, so I guess they'll pick the best takes for the album.)
I'll definitely be looking forward to the album to be out in September, that will feature the audience clapping including mine. :)
The columbia*readymade site features an official report written by Maezono Naoki, whose music is also featured on the recent compilation and who has just started a new band called Zonies with Konishi-san on piano.
Oh, and while I sincerely love the great music Konishi-san has been making or featuring lately, on that compilation and also the "100 years of Columbia" re-issues, part of me does wonder where the club music side of Readymade went, and when it will come back..!