Audio

Journeys Underground with Ryo Kuramoto of DREAMPV$HER

Since embarking on this journey into Tokyo’s underground, the experimental electronic duo DREAMPV$HER kept appearing in my orbit. To recap, DREAMPV$HER is Ryo Kuramoto on synthesizer, and Michael Suwa on an 80’s-era beat maker. I first saw them perform back in September and briefly wrote about them in a previous post as a group whose sound challenges notions of a generically bound underground. At that point in my fieldwork, though, having only been in Japan for about a month, I was still trying to figure out where — and what — the heart of Tokyo’s underground music was. I was essentially a total newbie, going to any show that seemed promising on fliers I gathered at venues around town. There were many nights where I struck out, having paid upwards of 3000 yen to enter the club only to immediately realize that it was absolutely not the kind of music I was hoping to hear (I’m talking trite EDM remixes of top-forty from the States). When I heard DREAMPV$HER for the first time, though, I was literally stunned: their sound jolted me out of my consciousness into an uncharted, alternate sonic universe that was so fresh, yet somehow familiar. It also marked a turning point because I instinctively understood at that moment that this was the music I had been looking for.
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Monday, February 2nd, 2015 Audio, Thoughts, Video No Comments

What Can Music Really Do For Us?

My research here in Ghana will be classified under “ethnomusicology” but I have never considered nor identified myself as a musicologist per se. Music enthusiast, expert-in-the-making, music journalist, hip-hop head, DJ, concert producer, promoter… I simply LOVE music. I always have. And I truly believe it has power. I am also an information junkie who does not allow myself simply to be interested in something; I am always delving in to find as much information as I can—which has led me to Ghana.
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Thursday, January 29th, 2015 Audio, Thoughts No Comments

Interview Series: Asonat

Oléna Simon performed tracks from her solo project at September’s GRASSROOTS with Fannar Ásgrímsson on beats and production.

The two of them, along with Jónas Thór Guðmundsson, are also a part of a three-piece music group called Asonat. Although they consider themselves an Icelandic group, they’re very much international: Jónas is living in Estonia, Fannar Ásgrímsson is in Iceland and French vocalist Oléna Simon plans to move to Japan.

Though, Jonas says, “Despite this constant moving around, we are in total synchronization toward how the music should be.”

Their new album “Connection,” was released at the end of September, and has been well received by the press. The record landed on the number 1 spot at WRAS Radio 88.5FM in Atlanta and Nordic Playlist rated it as one of “10 Unmissable New Nordic Albums” alongside Ásgeir’s “In The Silence” (Iceland) and Love To’s “Queen of the Clouds” (Sweden).
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 Audio, Thoughts, Video No Comments

Interview Series: slowsteps

In late September, slowsteps was one of five musicians who performed at GRASSROOTS, the arts and music community bash hosted in my backyard.

Slowsteps (Sebastian Storgaard) played a solo acoustic set for the 50 or so community members at the event, although a band sometimes accompanies him. Interesting to note in his band is bass player Róbert Mikael—who also performed a solo electronic set under the name ROBO R1X2 at GRASSROOTS. As he says in the interview below, the scene is small and everyone knows each other.
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Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 Audio, Thoughts No Comments

Tokyo Soundtracks: Controlling the Noise in Underground Clubs

Tokyo is one of the largest cities the world, with around 30 million people living in the metropolitan area. It’s also the most densely populated city on Earth. Tokyo is crowded, and it took me a few weeks to get used to it. Or, perhaps more accurately, it took me a few weeks to accept that going anywhere means being constantly surrounded by people, especially on the trains. It’s not exactly pleasant, particularly during rush hour or last train when station workers push people into train cars with a slab of cardboard.

Commuters jammed in on a Keihin Tōhoku Line train at rush hour, a shot I snapped on my mp3 player.

A cardboard-wielding station worker, waiting for the right moment to shove people into the cars for last train.

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Thursday, October 30th, 2014 Audio, Thoughts, Video 1 Comment

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