Saturday, 10 November 2007

Tokyo. September.

* Cobbleston Jazz / Pier Bucci / Jeff Milligan @ Real Grooves, Spacelab Yellow (22nd September 2007)

So this time Yellow - Tokyo’s oldest underground club. A cavernous basement club in outer Roppongi. Its walls are jet black with the bottom main room a dark intimate pit. Matthew Johnson’s live techno trio Cobbleston Jazz kicked off the headline acts. One of the trio played synth and sang while Matthew Johnson and his other buddy tweaked racks of midi controllers hooked up to two synced MacBooks. Matthew actually says it better than I do. “Danuel is mainly focused around the Rhodes piano and vocoder while Tyger works mostly percussion and atmospherics, and I do mostly basslines, simple drum programming, as well as mixing most of our stuff in the studio. In our live shows, me and Tyger have similar roles while Danuel focuses on keys.” (Fact mag interview)

I am trying to remember if it was techno. The 3 jammed for possibly two hours maybe a bit less and there was definitely some deep bass getting kicked out, but the sets dropped into waves of more minimal sounds. Whatever it was, it was deep heavy free form electronica that was moving the crowd and MJ was having a great time performing.

Another Canadian, Jeff Milligan cracked on to the decks from the other end of the main room. He has a pretty unique style riding four turntables he cuts tracks in and out stupidly quickly. His finger work on the tracks levels is mad. He played a solid, measured deep house set. Bass kicking in and out, in and out. Check his style.

Up last was Cross Town Rebel, Pier Bucci. All I wanted to hear all night was the deathly vocal of Hey Consuelo, but no such luck. Pier didn’t drop a vocal until near the end of the set. He played deep house and even deeper techno through nothing but his Macbook. It looked like he was playing a typewriter. Standing in front of the crowd tapping away. He played the crowd really well, bringing a dead-pan middle hour to an intense climax.

Pier Bucci - Hey Consuelo (Original edit)

Real Grooves is a very apt name for the night. The whole night flew by in one very real and deep groove. The programming was tight but maybe a little too tight. All exceptional deep house and techno but after 6 hours I was a bit bored. Massive night though, Yellow has an incredible atmosphere, and the promoters and DJs were very cool.

* Lupe Fiasco / DJ Krush / Tucker / Dex Pistols / Nameless Tribal House DJ @ G-Shock, agEha (23rd September 2007)

Deepest darkest industrial south-east Tokyo. Well not that dark, but a trek from the centre. agEha is massive with a capacity of well over 3000. It’s a pretty slick club. Big rooms, big production, shiny. Think trance club! The first bar has huge video screens with mug shots and set times of the featured artists rotating on them. You need it as well as there must have been 30 artists performing all over the complex. There is a swimming pool outside, coupled with funk DJ and cocktail bar. Everyone congregates round the pool hopeful that sooner or later someone will fall in. This terrace looks out over a massive dockland waterway with the skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo in the distance. The main arena is vast and regularly plays host to big name concert performers as well as DJs.

Lupe Fiasco was definitely the main attraction that night. I never really heard about Lupe until a few bloghouse remixes started coming through on blogs last year. Not being a massive commercial US hip-hop fan, he does stand out as a refreshing artist. From Chicago, not the East or West coast he has a unique style and when he bounced on to the stage in Tokyo his energy was properly big. The Japanese girls loved him. He made some funny references to British electronic music as well, playing an interlude rapping over Gorrillaz – Dare and also the track on his album that covers Daydream by
I –monster. Remember that track! He put on a fun show.

Lupe Fiasco - Kick Push (Estew remix)

The main artist I was pysched to see was Tucker. Tucker is probably the most crazily talented artist I have ever seen. He's a musical prodigy. I saw he completely by chance at Sonar 06. He woke me up on the third day in front of on the Sonar Day main stage. Knackered from whole Sonar carry-on the standard Spanish experimental fare that was going on stage had put me to sleep. Tucker came on and everyone lounging round on the fake grass were quickly up on their feet and piling to the front. He’s a maniac, totally hyperactive running around playing a full on band ensemble and more. Using a pedal, he was looping a guitar, drum kit, bass, his accordion and then scratching up the product. Every time he jammed out a climax on his accordion he flipped into a headstand on top of it. He's a nutter.

He was in a marquee outside at agEha. Unfortunately he wasn't up on a stage so only the people at the front could really see how sick he actually was. This time he used 3 different guitars and a bass to loop different rifts, as well as his drum kit and the ridiculous accordion melodies to jam out dance-able rock rhythms. Oh and he also set his accordion on fire. He actually deserves a full post of videos. OK i'm going to put a full post of videos of him up! If Tucker ever comes anywhere near you, check him out!

So after that I got lost in the club for a whlie and next thing I remember is the Dex Pistols. These guys are Tokyo's answer to Soulwax and it seems also honorary Ed Bangers. The party boy DJ duo played across the board from Beastie Boys to Franz Ferdinand, The Beatles to Prodigy. It was good clean/filthy synth metal fun right at the end of the night and by the finale of their set they were standing on top of the decks mashing it up. It kept me dancing half dead on my feet at what was quickly becoming the wrong side of a two day Japanese bender. I can't remember whether I'd caught DJ Krush and even if I had I don't even think I would have know what he looked/sounded like. Anyway by this point there were two hours left before I could leave for the first bullet train back to Sendai and some fairly shocking tribal house DJ played the last of the straglers out until 6am.

All in all funny shit! Tokyo is sick.

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