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I would imagine that of the few of you following this blog intently, most will have been looking forward to this entry more than any other. There is a serious fascination in the Western world when it comes to Japan, to the point where it borders on fetishism – we even have specific derogatory terms for people who are obsessed with anything and everything Japanese. Music may not quite command the same fanbase that anime does, or computer games do, but you still don’t need to look very far to find an excited fan of Dir en Grey, or Mad Capsule Markets, or Nobuo Uematsu.

Oh yeah, here's a footballer too.

Japan’s national character suffered a little when Western music crossed the Pacific and took over, which is a real shame; the nation’s folk and classical forms are documented as well as in any country in the world. Clearly nothing I can type into such a short space will sum all of that up, so we’ll focus on just one such form; gagaku, which is perhaps best understood as an equivalent of sorts to European chamber music, traditionally played by small-ish ensembles for the rich and royal in private performaces. It went on to be a big influence on avant-garde Western classical music, informing the drones, the microtonality, the primitivism, and even the electronic textures that permeates the works of composers as famous as LaMonte Young, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Krzysztof Penderecki.

The influence of traditional Japanese music on the Western avant-garde has been recriprocated and mirrored by Japan’s own avant scene, which is one of the most fertile in the world and is home to some of the very biggest names on the cutting egde, from Yoko Ono to Ground Zero to Merzbow. The scene is so big that many of the most internationally-adored names in Japanese music nod to it (Sigh, Boris, Kashiwa Diasuke, and Boredoms are all classic examples that should be familiar to most of the users here). Finding an entry point into this vast landscape is tough, but I’d put forward the name of Ryoji Ikeda to any interested party – his music may be constructed entirely from clicks, white noise, sine waves, and found sounds, but he coalesces them into something with such a powerful, flexible rhythm that it almost qualifies as dance music.

For all of this, though, the West has been embraced perhaps a little too eagerly by the Japanese mainstream – there’s certainly an interesting comparison to be made when it comes to which out of America or Japan is more interested in the other on a cultural level. On the level of base observation, though, it’s hard not to recoil in horror at some of the biggest Japanese acts, most of whom hold up a mirror to the absolute worst of American music and just amplify it, and manage to sound 10 years out of date, too. Hair metal, happy hardcore, trashy teen pop, nu-metal, pop-punk, boy bands – it’s all there, and it’s mostly excruciating. They have, however, managed to sculpt a seriously classy underground hip-hop scene, which has found itself some extra attention recently as a result of the tragic death of Nujabes. Regular followers of this blog will already know how much I adore this man’s music, so when presented with the option of posting more or subbing him out for DJ Krush or Lyrics Born or Deckstream…well, what do you think I went for?





Nagrarok
06.19.10
Ah, we have to play Japan in a few hours. Interesting read once again.

TheyTookOurJobs
06.19.10
Nothing on Japcore? Or Japanese Emo/Screamo? Crazy!

KritikalMotion
06.19.10
BOOM BOOM SATELLITES

I hope they win just to continue the run of upsets. However i don't think that will happen. Out of the bigger teams expected to win Netherlands are probably my favs

Iai
06.19.10
I wanted stuff that sounded Japanese, not stuff that sounds like Japanese people doing impressions of Americans. Otherwise this whole series is pointless, no?

Buccaneer
06.19.10
I suppose X-Japan would've been too obvious.

This is good too, Japanese Hardcore Punk:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InnfSNbWYM4&feature=related



Nagrarok
06.19.10
Game was crap the first half, second half was much better.

Iai
06.19.10
Yeah I considered X-Japan, but I battered them to death in the early days of Sputnik and I think it got pretty tiresome for all involved.

Thor
06.19.10
Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation

AngelofDeath
06.19.10
Lol. Needs moar Uematsu-san! Or maybe Boris.

Great read again.

Helvete
06.19.10
yeah im very surpised of no Boris

Athom
06.19.10
If nujabes wasn't on here i was going to kill you. good thing it is. you're safe... for now.

Masochist
06.19.10
Wow, Mad Capsule Markets got a name-drop! Awesome...(I, of course, heard them on Tony Hawk).

Fan of stuff I hear on different animes, of course, though the more interesting ones I explore further. Favorite Japanese band = The Pillows. And for some reason, Japanese boy-bands don't bother me as much as American ones (V6 ain't so bad, even outside of their Inuyasha cred).

As for Japanese Hip-Hop, yeah, gotta be DJ Nomak.

robertsona
06.19.10
thank fucking god you didnt sub nujabes for dj krush. honestly

Adash
06.19.10
this is such a goood idea for a blog

you must be english

couldwinarabbit
06.20.10
To however makes this blog. I was fully excepting to see Merzbow be on hear but you have no idea how happy I was when the name Ryoji Ikeda came up. Everyone should listen to Dataplex, it is a breathtaking and remarkable album. Now if I may make a suggestion to you as a staff member:

Les Rallizes Dénudés- '77 live GET IT RIGHT NOW! Don't say you will get it later do it right now. Now you will have to dl it illegally, as I do not believe legal copies exist. But get it. It is spectacular. Mix Merzbow, Velvet Underground and Sigur Ros into a blender. Pour in whey protein made of pure awesomness mix until it... well not smooth and you have this band. It is one of the best albums ever made and it is the best thing you haven't heard yet. Go get it NOW.

Mordecai.
06.20.10
JD, what the fuck is japcore?

Final Origin
06.20.10
Absolutely love Boom Boom Satellites and Asian Kung-fu Generation atm, very consistent bands.

Iluvatar
06.20.10
omg didnt mention the art of life omgomg

mynameischan
06.20.10
thea rt of life is bullshit

Deviant.
06.20.10
"If nujabes wasn't on here i was going to kill you. good thing it is. you're safe... for now."

This

Iluvatar
06.20.10
chan i agree

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