Audio

Clock Hazard and the Egalitarian Musical Utopia of the Kansai Underground

When you go to a Clock Hazard show, you never know what to expect. There are no set members; there is no set genre; there is no set equipment; there are no usual venues.

The only thing you can expect is to have a euphoric experience dancing to some sick music. They are absolutely what’s happening in Kansai.

CHD at MAMF
Clock Hazard doing their thing at the Mai Asia Music Festival, Osaka, on April 29th.

So, what is Clock Hazard, and why all the ambiguity? Clock Hazard is an underground rebel dance music collective and music label based in the western Japanese region of Kansai – the area surrounding Osaka and Kyoto – and perhaps its most defining hallmark is that it’s explicitly anonymous. There are currently around twenty members – the exact number is neither clear nor important – and while many do solo gigs under actual monikers, Clock Hazard’s anonymity was purposefully implemented with two specific goals in mind. Coming into existence in January of 2014, the founding members (who, true to form, asked to remain anonymous in this article) were first and foremost frustrated with what they detected as a particularly unsavory aspect of the Japanese underground, namely… names. They feel that the scene places too much importance on the draw of big-name musicians and through their anonymity are trying to reemphasize actual music-making while encouraging audiences to prioritize the same. Secondly, Clock Hazard opts for anonymity in order to create a highly egalitarian environment where musicians can feel free to share, express, experiment, and inspire with various musical styles, without the pressure of operating under the strict hierarchies that normally define Japanese social interactions.
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Friday, May 8th, 2015 Audio, Thoughts, Video No Comments

Interview with LaFontaine

LaFontaine

LaFontaine was playing a DJ set at a school party, when he had a chance encounter with Icelandic electronic music artist Addi Exos.

Exos saw his potential and entered LaFontaine into his first-ever DJ competition, in which he placed second. Since then, LaFontaine has developed as a DJ and music producer in Iceland and played festivals like Iceland Airwaves and Secret Solstice. Later this month, LaFontaine will play Sónar Reykjavík in Harpa alongside popular electronic music artists like Skrillex, Paul Kalkbrenner, Nina Kraviz and SBTRKT.

His road as a musician has been winding, and full of exploration and experimentation. He’s produced music under several alter egos including MTHMPHTMN and He is she, though he now focusing his efforts entirely as LaFontaine.

In 2012, when he got more serious about his music, LaFontaine started organizing club nights at Faktorý with good friend and collaborator Alexander Ágústsson. Shortly after, they started Rafarta Records together, which released its seventh album on February 10.

I sat down with LaFontaine and learned about his take on the electronic music scene in Iceland, what we can expect at his live set at Sónar, the upcoming release of his newest album, and the details about his serendipitous encounter with Addi Exos.
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Friday, April 17th, 2015 Audio, Thoughts No Comments

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

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