Japanese City Pop Playlist Curated by Toshi Kanazawa Now Available on Streaming Services

21.May.2021 | MUSIC

Japanese music journalist Toshi Kanazawa released Vol.6 of his ‘J-DIGS: Light Mellow City Essence’ music playlist series last Wednesday. It comes as the final installment to the series which began in July last year.

 

The 20-track playlist includes jazz fusion instruments, pop tunes by jazz singers, and others, all of which are compiled with urban city music vibes. The playlist is now available on major streaming and download services including Spotify.

Kanazawa’s J-DIGS project began as a way to promote the rich catalogue of Japanese record label Nippon Columbia which was established 110 years ago. The project now has its own YouTube channel, so if you love music from Japan, be sure to check it out below.

 

Additionally, a Chee Shimizu playlist taken from his 2013 book Obscure Sound is also available to listen to on music platforms with genres ranging from psychedelic to spiritual, experimental, cosmic, tropical, groovy, and more.

 

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    “Ask Japanese”, a channel on “WAO-RYU! TV” – an internet show aimed at foreigners – have posted a brand new video entry. The theme of the topic this time is titled “MUST-LISTEN Japanese music? Ask foreigners in Japan about their artist recommendations”.

    The latest video features German talent “Cathy Cat” heading around town asking foreigners about their favourite artists. From artists well-known in Japan to others you might not expect a foreigner to know, lots of different names popped up in their answers. Check out the interview below to see what artists appeared came up. Who do you think they mentioned?

     

    ▶Video: 日本の音楽、何か知っていますか? 外国人に聞いてみました! (translation: We Ask Foreigners What Japanese Artists They Know)
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  • Ongaku Daisuki With Matt Bennett | Doopees “Doopee Time”

    06.August.2016 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    “The dope on dope and the Doopees”

    matt

    Yann Tomita is a man living on the edge. Known as Japan’s preeminent steelpan drum player, Yann’s music is a mix of Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks-era Beach Boys, musique concrete, 90’s lounge lizard acts, and the wacky inventions of Dr. NakaMats.
    With a large discography of albums released under his own name, it’s a surprise the album he may be best known for was released by his side project, the illusive, imaginary Doopees. “Doopee Time,” their one and only album, is a stroke of plunderphonic genius, novel in its blend of recognizable pop songs (the Beach Boy’s “Caroline No,” Petula Clark’s “Now That You’ve Gone”) with a loose storyline, something I haven’t encountered on another plunderphonic album.


    Whether or not plunderphonics is a recognized genre in Japan, I do not know, as Yann is really the only artist I have discovered who has mastered the art. But around the same time “Doopee Time” was created, plunderphonics had become a highly controversial topic in the western world. The phrase, coined by artist John Oswald, refers to a form of sample culture consisting of new compositions made entirely from preexisting material. Musical saboteurs Negativland first brought the name to public attention with their 1991 EP “U2” . The single prominently featured the characters “U2” on the cover, in a font significantly larger than the band’s name. Many people bought the single expecting a new U2 song only to hear a midi-version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” accompanied by an audio clip of DJ Casey Kasem on a profanity-ridden rant about U2. Negativland was subsequently sued, and the “U2” EP was withdrawn, but not before turning a lot of heads and making a few headlines.


    Plunderphonics is a unique genre created on the fringes of mainstream culture, existing both as a critique and guarded appreciation of the gargantuan acts of pop music. By taking tracks by artists like U2 or Michael Jackson (the cover to John Oswald’s 1989 album “plunderphonic” is notorious for it’s doctored nude photograph of Jackson) then splicing and rearranging them, plunderphonic artists became the progenitors of sample-based hip hop, and still influence new popular Internet genres like vaporwave.


    And Yann Tomita is the Japanese King of Plunder.


    According to the band mythos, Doopees is comprised of friends Caroline Novac (reportedly portrayed by Buffalo Daughter’s Rumiko Ohno) and Suzi Kim. The album follows a loose narrative in which Doopees search for a cure for Caroline’s chronic sadness. Caroline, the younger of the two Doopees, cries her way through a rocky piano performance of Chopin’s Opus 28 No. 4. “Poor Caroline, playing Chopin and crying,” laments Suzi. “Why don’t those love songs leave me satisfied?” Caroline asks on “Love Songs (Love Is A Many Razor Bladed Thing).” Things start to get brighter when they meet Dr. Domestic and are sent on a bus trip through space and time. But where in time do the Doopees end up? The packaging of the album might give us a clue: the cover features a clock with no hands as if to say every time is Doopee Time.


    All this is played comically, underscored by Tomita’s intricate and far-out compostions. My favorite song “Doopee Time,” is a reworking of Hugo Montenegro’s iconic theme to I Dream of Jeannie, revitalizing the tired sitcom theme song and giving it a more modern beat-driven vibe.
    And Tomita obviously has an affinity for far-out music. On his solo steel drum album “Music For Astro Age” he performs both a straight version of John Cage’s infamous “4’33’” AND a DUB version of it. Not to mention a cover of Sun Ra’s “We Travel The Spaceways.” His influence transcends just the Doopees. Tomita has worked with experimental artists Ryuichi Sakamoto, Boredoms, and my guy Cornelius.


    So what does it mean to be a Doopee? The back cover of the album says it all: “CUTE MUSIC is keep you healthy, mind clear.” That is Yann Tomita’s overall message with this album. “Doopee Time” is cute on the surface but is ultimately a statement on the healing power of music. Yann gains inspiration from “living sound,” the random and mundane places most people overlook. Music is all around us: in the air, on the bus, at the airport or doctor’s office. All you have to do is listen. Maybe then you can be a Doopee too.


    Enjoy this wonderful, rare Doopee promo video:


    Get yourself a copy of Matt Bennett’s debut album “Terminal Cases” — out now!

    ★Purchase your copy here: https://fanatic.lnk.to/MattBennett

    Matt Bennett

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvM18LsxuTok5f356cU8_LA

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattbennett

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/matthbennett

  • Ongaku Daisuki With Matt Bennett | “Slow Ballad” RC Succession

    26.June.2016 | FEATURES / MUSIC

    Being a crate digging historian, nothing matches the thrill of (re-)discovering forgotten avenues in music just begging to be exhumed. There’s a world of lost gems to find, like an archaeologist digging for fossils. Only I’m not an archaeologist, I’m a boy. On the lookout for hot bands.
    Sometimes buying records is like finding an extinguished bonfire on the beach and feeling the dead coal for a flicker of warmth still left in them.
    There is most definitely heat still emanating from RC Succession’s “Slow Ballad.”


    When talking to fans of Japanese music, I commonly find, for convenience sake, people describe Japanese bands as “the Japanese equivalent” of some famous Western band.
    For example: “Cornelius is the Japanese Beck.”
    Or: “The Blue Hearts are the Japanese Clash.”
    Or: “Happy End is the Japanese Beatles”
    From my growing knowledge in the field of J-rock, I’m going to go out on a limb and say RC Succession are the Japanese Rolling Stones.


    I first came across the name RC Succession in Rolling Stone Japan’s “Top 100 Japanese Albums of All Time” list (a great place to start for anybody looking to get more into J-Rock). Their 1980 double live album, “Rhapsody,” was ranked the second best Japanese rock album of all time behind the Japanese Beatles themselves, Happy End.
    Aha! The age old battle of Beatles vs. Stones transcends international boundaries!
    So when I heard “Slow Ballad” as the closing track in Shion Sono’s holiday masterpiece “Love
    & Peace,” I was intrigued.


    The movie tells the story of a pet turtle who gets flushed down a toilet, meets homeless Santa Claus and his gang of sentient misfit toys and is turned into a giant kaiju (monster) all while his heartbroken nerdy owner desperately tries to find him while simultaneously becoming Japan’s biggest rock star. Novel and unique, as Sono’s films always are. If you’ve seen one of his movies before, this kind of chaos should make sense to you. His films veer so far off the beaten path they could be from Mars.
    Sono has a great ear for music as well, his magnum opus “Love Exposure” exclusively uses music from indie rock band Yura Yura Teikoku. I take music recommendations seriously so a Sono-affirmed song is worth investigating.
    When the soft piano and arpeggiated guitar of “Slow Ballad” trickled in, I knew Sono had done it again. This song is beyond catchy! I stayed through the credits to discover: “Slow Ballad” by RC Succession
    “Oh!” I thought, “RC Succession? #2 on the Japanese Rolling Stone List?”
    Noted.


    “Slow Ballad” tells the story of two lovers sleeping together in the back of a car while a slow ballad softly plays out of their car radio. It sums up that sweet point in a new relationship where feelings are still fresh and new. The sentiment is touching, with singer Kiyoshiro Imawano‘s (“Japan’s King of Rock”) impassioned, strained vocal approach over a swell of horns and strings bringing a sweeping feeling, like you’re swept up in the romance along with the two lovers.
    Watching the “Rhapsody” concert you get a very 1980 picture.



    Popular music had not quite evolved out of funk and rock, but not yet fully transitioned into disco or new wave either. It was an age when star wipes (watch below video for reference) and picture in picture was still cutting edge.



    And their live theatrics echo Start Me Up era Stones. Wannabe-punk-inspired but not above throwing a splash of Dayglo in there. Imawano plays up that Mick Jagger strut, with maybe a hint of David Johansen thrown in for good effeminate measure, and guitarist Reichi “CHABO” Nakaido is a shoo-in for Japanese Keith Richards.
    “Slow Ballad” may not have rocked the Western world, but it just may rock YOUR world. And that’s what Matt Bennett is all about. I love to rock. So rock with me, won’t you?


    matt-bennett

    Get yourself a copy of Matt Bennett’s debut album “Terminal Cases” — out now!

    ★Purchase your copy here: https://fanatic.lnk.to/MattBennett

    Matt Bennett

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvM18LsxuTok5f356cU8_LA

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattbennett

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/matthbennett

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