Head Cheese Buenos Aires – by Fernando Rodriguez
Head Cheese Toronto – by Maureen Ra
Head Cheese Finland – by Tommi Misturi
Head Cheese Osaka – by Ian Masters, Koji Uchida, Okazawa Atsushi, Youko Ishii, Halle Kume
Head Cheese New Zealand – by Robert Thirtle
Head Cheese Korea – by Scott Burgeson
IF CAPRICORN, BLOWS GOATS: Untitled Average Truman Capota True Hollywood Mind Storagey! Oh!
Ok, so the music scene looks like this, down here in Buenos Airea at least. There are two main biiiiiiiiiiiiig influences: The Ramones and the Stones. So you got straight rock n' roll bands and you got punk bands. Some suck, some don't. And then you have the bands that stand on their own.
I don't care about straight roll bands or bluesy bands and the such unless they are really sick or play real fast or play brilliantly lousy. Most bands here in B.A. lack the twisted SUPER musically aesthetical vision that Japanese bands have. I don't like most of the bands here, most suck, and a few are brilliant. So, let's forget about humilliating the first ones and let's check out the last ones that, as Jesus said, will be the firsts... to not suck. I.e.: EL OTRO YO.
Maybe the greatest band to appear on the scene in yeeeears is a band called El Otro Yo ("The Other Me"). They formed in the early nineties. Three guys and one girl. Their second record was recorded inside a minus-seats Dodge Polara. They make this punk and pop tunes that seem so childishly simple and yet you go and try and never get to make a song like their songs, the kind of song that makes you play yr air guitar (everyone has one – even those who own a real one, we all play air guitar better than we play real guitar) and dance and jump around yr room like you are fifteen years old again. The kind of song that gets stuck to your brain for weeks. Their songs talk about rotten teeth in pleasing smiles, walking under the rain thinking obscenities, nexuses of love unbreakable despite distance, having hot phone sex and becoming a virtual sex stallion horse and making love until you poop yourself up. And all this wrapped in a bubble of innocence and purity so strong and beautiful that no-one could get the wrong picture. The guitar of Christian Aldana, a.k.a. Mr. Butterslider Overdrive, Maria Fernanda Aldana on sick bass and that gaze, and Raimundo "Peligro" Fajardo on drums. Man the guy can use the sticks. And he must have a problem with his drums, cause he beats the shit out of his kit. Reeeeal hard.
Their lastest album, Abrecaminos ("Roadopener") has brought them to a wider audience, due to the best dozen songs they have ever crafted. A mix of raw punk mixed with the delicacy of tre' fine pop, add liters of salty sweat and the most beautiful kiss you were ever given and multiply by a chance of eternity. Then you turn it up and it sounds even better. They have been on tour like for the last two years +, playing fucking everywhere in this country, going to nowhere, playing there and turning a plain ghost shithole into punk pop rock city. That sounds fantastic to me. Last time I heard of them, before they continued the Endless Tour, they played this equestrian school's lot. 20.000 people attended. Twenty thousand! I didn't. I was too busy feeling sad and isolating myself. I heard it on the radio and aged 40 years in an hour. It was too much of a hoot, and I wasn't there. Typical.
Their previous discography includes four or five records and, prior to the release of Abrecaminos, the simultaneous release of a solo record for each of the three members. Check them out at www.eoy.com , www.eoy.com.ar, www.elotroyo.com, www.elotroyo.com.ar or something like that. If you can. Who knows their web site might just have got on tour with them too. El Otro Yo has created it's own label called Besotico Records and releases his stuff and stuff by other artists as well. This year's schedule includes the US, Mexico, Venezuela, Afganistan, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and the Pacific Islands (all of them).
Listen to a whole EOY concert: www.frecuenciaweb.com.ar/rams/fwlive/otroyo2/otroyo2.ram
Have you ever tried channeling your and your friends' aural energy field by brushing your teeth when you wake up in the morning in a triangular formation? That's how you REINOLS gets it done.
I think you must have heard about them. They are a unusual, experimental, surprising and inclassifiable band. I had the intense pleasure of seeing them live in '94, a year afyer the initiated their mission. The guitar player, Robeto Conlazo, sprayed my mouth with Axe Musk deodorant and I almost die poisoned.
Reinols, a.k.a. Burt Reinolds Ensemble, a.k.a. Los Albumina, a.k.a Jeta de Carton Corrugado, are led by drummer of drummers and singer of singers Miguel Tomasin, who, in the words of his loving and worshipping bandmates, "could be considered a Messiah for still unknown and unexplored states of the mind and the consciousness". Miguel has a drumming style of his own, wich is called Yers. His use of the ride cymbals is, to put it mildly, hypnotic. When he gets all carried away and rocking, he has to grab his blue drum kit back to him because he hits it so hard that the kit goes bouncing off and away from him. I was confided by one of the band members that Miguel got his style from a trip he took to a reknown U.F.O. sighting/landing mountain. Seems like he was abducted and kidnapped by a extraterrestrial bandit fugitive ship from the star system of Ganymede. Tomasin gifted the ET's with a cross-eyed bull frog he had befriended and made his pet while climbing the sierras, so the masqued interstellar crooks gifted him with the YERS drumming style before releasing him.
When Reinols played last time I saw them play at the beginning of this year, Tomasin delivered an incredible, stunning vocal performance that verged on transfiguration.
Reinols has played concerts for an audience of potted plants, illegal gigs in squares with their guitars plugged to pumpkins, recorded a live symphony accompanied by 10.000 live chickens, has records released underwater (records thrown to the bottom of the Rio de la Plata) and a "dematerialized cee dee" (a cd box with no cd inside!). They have participated as the live musical act in the children medical health TV show "La Salud de Nuestros Hijos", that airs nation-wide and is seen by millions daily. They got a video called "Flagelation" in the which Miguel Tomasin belt-buckles the crap out of his band mates. They release about 5 or 7 records a week in labels like Matching Head and the such/other underground/indie noise and no-noise labels around the globe. They have released more than 70 tapes and cee dees and vinyls in places like the US, Germany, Czech Republic, England, Brasil, Japan, Micronesia, France, Italy, Portugal and even Slovenia and the Ukraine, on labels like Matching Head and Semi-Roar and Freedom From and a bunch of others I can't remember their names cause the list is so huge! Reinols has been invited to play the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Capitolium or something like that in Seattle, in the US, for the occasion of a super cool noise festival. They toured the US.
This year they've recorded a joint LP via satellite with noisemaster Pauline Oliveros. Guitar player Robeto Conlazo, guitar player Anla Courtis, bass player Papaya Perales, human recorder/ mixer/ eventual drummer Macs and guitar players Sandra Espinoza and Mazapan Cheeks also form the band known as Reinols.
The next project suggested by "M" Tomasin, a tribute to Luis Miguel that would take place as 100 drummers playing together, is still to be paid. Their latest completed work is the musical scoring for an Argentinian Downes-Syndrome Ballet Company.
Check out: www.freedom-from.com
Virrey Cevallos 592 1ro "2"
C.P. (1077) Buenos Aires
AND THEN You have me sending tapes to idiotic labels like Kill Rock Stars and getting nice xeroxed-by-the-bunch letters in return . And there's my sister Fernanda sending her tapes of songs of the MIAMI VICE series to some little label in Iceland that actually releases them. Iceland. BBBRRRRRRRRRRROkay! This is Brenda St... Fernando, Dec., what day is this? I don't know. It's a Saturday night I think... Merry Xmas y’all. Christ I'm gonna get dead drunk in yr blood tonight. Comments & complaints sent here: Señor F.:
ponebombasdecrema @ hotmail.com
In the afterglow of winning gold in men's and women's hockey in Utah, one might easily accept the stereotype of Canadians - one imbued with, well, beer stains on hockey jerseys (or make that curling shirts with the recent release of Paul Gross' celluloid feature, Men With Brooms) and more hockey and beer. The streets of Toronto pulsed with red and white jerseys, the crooning of O' Canada, (and beer breath I'm sure) Sunday night as did other Canadian cities and yes, Toronto can certainly boast to be home of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the mass consumption of brewskies from local microbreweries. But there's more to this city than just that, isn't there? When we strip the Canuck facade right down, what beats at the core of this city? Is it really the hoser heart that can be found from Cornerbrook to Moosonee to Chilliwack? Or is there something more intuitively worldy and cosmopolitan here?
Toronto is neither the punk rock city that never sleeps like NYC nor is it the small town coffee fuelled vibe of the healthy joggers avec les chiens in Vancouver. It falls somewhere in between - one part dark and edgy, the other seemingly wholesome and healthy. The idiosyncracies of ole Hog Town derives from it's geographic location - being along an invisible line of symmetry, if you folded the country in half, east - west (but not the centre of the universe remember) and from it's well known diversity through multiculturalism. What results is a city without a definitive sound or flavour to call its own but perhaps that can be said about culture in Canada in general. A local musician friend deprecatingly surmised that the T dot absorbs the popular musical flavor of the day. When Seattle grunge was all the rage, so it was in Toronto, though a couple of reverbs behind. When jungle and house delivered you to ecstasy, Toronto experimented with that sound too, a few beats after Berkley and London though, but who's counting? Besides that's just one way of looking at it. Another reality is that the indefinitive that exists here is the definition itself. So is Toronto just a cultural chameleon, a soul-less identity whore? Or is it the potential breeding ground of a(n) (r)evolutionary sound/movement altogether waiting to germinate from this indefinable seed?
With sounds and genres becoming more of a melangerie globally, Toronto seems to be a hot bed of indie record labels all embracing the DIY spirit of things, mixing things up even more (like the people who brought us LAL), along with the burgeoning community of dj's who continue to mix the beats. One thing is for certain, you can't arrive in Toronto and expect to embrace "The Scene" because, well, in case you haven't been following along, there isn't one. You kind of have to dig around and put one together yourself, especially in the advent of the evolution of the rave scene as we once knew it and in the tortured shadows of American pop and dare I even mention what now seems to be too taboo to even acknowledge: alternative music (geshundheit!). As hip as it is to dance to retro at the Blow Up with all the other art house kids, skank with the English Beat at the Rivoli perhaps, all habits are supported here. Need the newest Brit pop fix? Toronto's your pusher. Want to check out the New York neo punk sounds of the Moldy Peaches? We'll set you up nice. And of course there's always the revolving door line up of ‘kid ’ this and dj that. So what if Toronto has never had it's own scene to call it's own? Perhaps we just jumped that queue, stayed open and branched out before everyone else did. Mixing genres is the direction of music these days anyway, isn't it? And if anyone can do it well, it should be us here in this kaleidoscopic hodge-podge right? Well, if all else fails, we've always got ole faithful to define us: Hockey and beer. I guess we're still good hosers at heart.
Places to check out while in town :
For dj spins: Fez Batik,
Hooch / Gypsy Co-op, Lava Lounge, Element, System Soundbar, Turbo, Reverb
(dark rave first Saturday of the month), Kool Haus (see events list), Guverment
(see events list), and when u just can't sleep Comfort Zone (shady yes, but
you can dance ‘til 3 in the afternoon!)
Conversation: The Green Room, Fez Batik, The Red Room, Shallow Groove
To shake your booty: Manhattan, Shallow Groove, Left Bank, Lava Lounge, Velvet Underground, 606 and most of the places listed under dj spins.
Art: The indie art gallery beside Dufflet's bakery on Queen, and the following galleries on Richmond: A Space, 401, XYZ Artists' Outlet. Jane Corkin on John Street (they exhibited Diane Arbus about 10 years ago), Open Studio on King, AGO, and the galleries in Yorkville if you
can stomach the attitude.
– Tommi Musturi
Lots going on in Finland! For example:
*** LABELS ***
AISTI – quite new label that released the brilliant 2. album from Office Building www.aistirecords.com/
ANOEMA RECORDINGS – a new label with still just one release, free improvisation,
electronics and noise
BV2 – another half of recently spilt up Bad Vugum, couldn't find any contact
information, but keep the name in mind
BOING BEING – quite lazy label releasing few 7"s and comics every now and
EKTRO – maybe the most important label in Finland at the moment, run by the Mr.Circle himself, Jussi Lehtisalo www.ektrorecords.com/
FONAL RECORDS – a very good small but active label run by Sami Sänpäkkilä also performing as ES and playing in Kiila+++ www.fonal.com/
FREAK ANIMAL RECORDS – noise and power electronics releases, good catalogue www.cfprod.com/farecs.htm
HOSTILE REGRESSION – if you want to check out some good Finnish hc/grind this is your bet, loud and straight-to-face
HOT IGLOO – the other half of recently split up legendary Bad Vugum-label,
continuing their work
IF SOCIETY – collaboration of few smaller labels, check out their recent releases for Echo is Your Love and Hero Dishonest ifsociety.com/
KAOS KONTROL – noise and power electronics www.kaos-kontrol.org/
LAL LAL LAL – great new label releasing more avantgardeish sounds, coming up LOTS of interesting releases fi.internations.net/lallallal/
OCTANE GRAMMOPHON – a small label with 7" releases ... formerly known as Weird Dreams. Contact: email@example.com
RIKOS RECORDS – check out how Tero's C64 beeps - because you're worth it www.rikosrecords.com/
SOME PLACE ELSE -
SÄHKÖ RECORDINGS (great label releasing more electronic stuff with a very good taste, check out their Jazzpuu-series with re-releases of Finnish jazz from the 70's www.phinnweb.com/sahko/
VAUVA – quite new label with great releases coming up. members.vip.fi/~anderzen/vauva.html
VERDURA – couple of interesting cds coming soon www.verdurarecords.com/
ZERGA – a label run by ex-Deep Turtle and today's Kroko frontman Pentti Dassum) www.zerga.rauhala.fi/
*** BANDS ***
AAVIKKO – soft electronics and skiing, one of the best live acts on earth ... without a doubt) www.aavikko.net/
THE ANAKSIMANDROS – Tampere-based improvisation members.vip.fi/~anderzen/anaksimandros.html
BLACK AUDIO – "Black Audio's humane groove warms your heart as well as it makes you dance. In today's cold world, can you ask for more?"
THE BLUBBERHEADS – "Up and going since October 1992. Flowers and noise. Sometimes nice, sometimes not so nice, always psyched out."
CAN CAN HEADS – nowave - but I didn't say that! www.kolumbus.fi/jamatu/cch/index.html
CHAINSMOKER – twisted and repetitive electronics by some of the former Sweetheart guys
CESSNA – if there ever was perfect guitar pop, Cessna would be close to it members.surfeu.fi/cessna/
CIRCLE – one of the most important bands of the last ten years has been obstinately releasing their transguiding music with increasing speed, yes it's kraut
CUCUMBER FARMER – this is what they say: "Cucumber Farmer is an utopian socialist community that sees art and music both as a religion and a holy war. We are dada-priests and surrealistic revolutionaries simultaneously" … well, judge by yourself www.cc.jyu.fi/~samhyto/
DARK SUN – these guys have for sure had their overdose of Hawkwind hop.to/darksun/
ECHO IS YOUR LOVE – a five-piece noise-pop-lo-fi outfit from Helsinki, second full-length album about to be released www.dlc.fi/~oranss1/echo/
EKTROVERDE – a loose collective around Jussi Lehtisalo, containing a busful of ex- and today's Circle line-up) www.verkkotieto.fi/~jl1/cirverde.html
ES – Sami Sänpäkkilä's audio playground www.escycle.com/
FUN – noiserock in the vein of Shellac www.fun.ven.cc/
GREY PARK – pulsing electro bleebs and drones www.cs.Helsinki.FI/u/pirtola/grey.park/
HINAGESHI BONDAGE – soundscapes by the mainman of Verdura Records. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
KEMIALLISET YSTÄVÄT (Jan Anderzen and his tribe guiding you through time and place - unique music beyond description,10th album got just released)
KEUHKOT – this is a fan-site but take a look at one of the most avantgardish icons in Finnish music: Mr. Kake Puhuu www.lyytikainen.com/keuhkot/
KIILA – difficult to describe - you must listen by yourself ... their debut cd is an outstanding work which sets high hopes for the future releases
KUUSUMUN PROFEETTA (first three albums are released under their English name
"Moon Fog Prophet" with more progressive approach ... after that got released
"Kukin kaappiaan selässään kantaa" -album, which must be one of the most
beautiful releases ever in Finland ... offering soft psychedelics, expressive
lyrics and Mika Rättö's voice which is unforgettable ... the band that has
it's fingers in lots of activities such as theatre, art +++)
MOTHER GOOSE – threesome that has been making their noiserock for about ten years, both beautiful and brutal in the same note www.geocities.com/kunstjet/
MOUTH ODOUR – stop ‘n’ go prog rock or whatever, after years of silence they're
working on a new cd... if I mention Cardiacs and Victim's Family you know
where you're heading for
MURHAMURHAITSEMURHA – un-music, as they say by themselves
NEMESIS – "audio soundtracks for traveling without moving - dreaming without
NIKO SKORPIO – "dark electro madness, drugged-out sick-hop, sample terrorism." nikoskorpio.net/
NU SCIENCE – C64 and garbage electronics, the official site is still under construction www.nuscience.nu/
NUMINOSUM – free improvisation since '92 www.cc.jyu.fi/~sapeny/numinosum/
O SAMULI A – both audio and visual osamulia.musicpage.com/
OFFICE BUILDING – walking its own way through melancholic pop, guided by the frontman Janne Laurila www.uta.fi/~tp61468/ob/obeng.htm
THE PAISLEY –"Cool neo-sixties Mod." www.geocities.com/paisleyweb/
PAN SONIC – Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen searching for outer space contact with their homemade electronics)
PARAFFIN AFFILIATES – free improvised noise jazz users.utu.fi/jojovi/pa/
PINK TWINS – some pretty noisy stuff here www.pinktwins.com/
PLATYPUS – an excellent band combining elements from kraut to noise www.uta.fi/~pm54740/platypus/
PNMF! – some improvisated live industrial/electronic/ambient/noise here www.cs.Helsinki.FI/u/pirtola/pnmf/
NEGA – samples upon soundscapes www.cs.Helsinki.FI/u/pirtola/nega/
RADIOPUHELIMET – probably the most important Finnish band, been performing their noisy rock for about 15 years ... all the ten albums should be included in your collection
RED CARPET – solo project of Sister Flo's Petri www.hansoovoice.com/redcarpet/
THE ROLLSTONS – just SO promising new band with perfect touch for
nuances, good lyrics and innovative pop songs - keep your eye on this one!
ROTTEN SOUND – if you're into brutal grind their latest is all you need ... if not, well ... just forget it then www.rottensound.com/
SERGIO – check out their debut 7" yours.at/sergio
SISSY SPACEK – another band of the If Society collective ifsociety.com/sissyspacek/
SISTER FLO – "Writing simple songs and playing them to other people." www.hansoovoice.com/sisterflo/
SPACE ROCKET – "veryfreejazz" as they claim to be contact: email@example.com
TV-RESISTORI – their brilliant debut 7" seems to be sold out members.surfeu.fi/tvresistori/
ULTRASPORT – most sympathetic pop songs here... ultrasport.cjb.net/
UZVA – "meshing elements of prog, folk and jazz into a unique combination.)" uzva.hypermart.net/
UNIDENTIFIED SOUND OBJECTS – audio visual playground of Mr. Sami Pennanen - this stuff is like soap, you can't get hold of it www.phinnweb.com/USO/
VALSE TRISTE – some kind of icon in Finnish punk, though going it's own more experimental way www.students.tut.fi/~koivuluo/mainpage.html
WASAMI – space-rock it is, just look at the photo... pww.evitech.fi/lap01s/band/projekti/eetu.htm
*** ZINES ***
HINDUPYÖRÄILIJÄ – an excellent zine released randomly Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
MUTINY! – Mutiny! is THE fanzine in Finland, been around for fifteen years and is quite much one of the responsibles in raising a new music-wise candid generation ... released quite seldom these days. Run by Mr. Janne Mäki-Turja) www.kolumbus.fi/jamatu/mutiny/index.html
TULVA – check out also their music releases go.to/tulva
*** MISC ***
MENTAL ALASKA – Excellent Tampere-based club that visits also other cities every now and then ... also a great radio show! www.homestead.com/mental_alaska/
ORANSSI – a small club with lots of different kind of activity ... gigs, theatre, food +++ www.oranssi.net
AVANTO – Helsinki media art festival, experimental sounds and moving image www.avantofestival.com/
KONEISTO – Festival for electronic music and arts, takes also place in Helsinki www.koneisto.com/
PHINNWEB – one of the greatest places in the whole web ... great source to take a look at what's going on in the more electronic side of Finnish music ... a LOT of interviews, articles, galleries, literature, arts ... a MUST to browse through
ROCKDATA – the ultimate link provider of music scene in Finland, may lead you to vibes of tango but anyway...
– Ian Masters
I'm Sore, Sore & Steal, Wing Disc, ESP Summer
For bands I recommend Jesus Fever, Music Start Against Young Assault, Billy?, Daruin, Sore & Tired, Pinky & Killers
For live shows Taku Taku in Kyoto is a very relaxing setting, Fandango in Juso has the authentic rock 'n' roll feel in a suitably grubby district ...
The fashion library on Rokko Island has a great selection of CDs and videos (both Japanese and English) you can use free, while you're in the building ... I saw the Powell/Pressburger classic "The Red Shoes" there ... also music magazines in various languages ... libraries are the best ... the original Napster ... yomihoudai!!
Favourite Record "shops" - In order of volume of discs bought:
- The very friendly Mr Yasumura at Amagasaki Flea Market, who calls me "young man" (recently "Michel Legrand meets Mile Davis" and "Dark Ducks sing Asian Songs")
- Wakuwaku recycle shop near Mukounosou, Hyougoken (recently "McCoy Tyner - Enlightenment" and "Deodato 2")
- Velvet Moon, Shinsaibashi (exclusive retailer of I'm Sore/Sore & Steal/Friendly Science discs)
Creatively, these days, I am mixing an album of Sore and Steal (mainly when I'm asleep) writing songs for Wing Disc (with Mark Tranmer of Gnac) thinking about a plunderphonic project based on the 100 children's records I was given last time I went to Amagasaki Flea.
More informations: Institute of Spoons www.dfuse.com/spoons/index.htm
Recent listening: Puffy, Girls from Bahia/Quarteto Em Cy, Bedazzled OST - Dudley Moore, Anything and everything by Caetano Veloso and Gil Gilberto
– Koji Uchida – Music Start Against Young Assault
I'm starting a new band, no name yet, but we'll have a live show on February 16th in Kyoto Kittoku. I'll have to decide a name by that day. There will be two bass and one drums. Jesus Fever opened for Blonde Redhead, they were great. Their performance really reflected the length and depth of their career. Music Start Against Young Assault has no particular plans, but we'll start recording later on. Not sure if we'll have a release by the end of the year or not. One of my fellow band members is in another band called Torico, great band. I saw him in a band before and decided I wanted to work with him. Finnish bands? It is interesting that there are bands similar to ours in Northern Europe. I ’m in several bands: Music start against young assault, Tohoho (as support member with Okazaka), [No name] (twin bass + drums from Torico), vuv (as solo), Ucca (with Kayo from Onoff), and Phovos (new plan when I play electronics).
– Okazawa Atsushi – MSAYA/ Jesus Fever
Local bands I recommend - local means Kansai area, I guess. Well..., Convex
Level, Drillman, Port, Golden Syrup Lovers, Labcry, New Age Distortion, Penumbra,
, Grind Orchestra, XOYO,
毘留紗那, corrupted, Curtain
of Cards, PsysEx, First Alert, mama milk,
ふちがみとふなと, otosora and more.
For live venues I love 磔磔 (takutaku) in Kyoto. I like fandango, bears, metro, 吉田寮 and 西部講堂.
I play as a DJ in the event "DISKO FUZZBOX" Next DISKO FUZZBOX is on 4/13 at cafe blue (Namba). I play alternative house and techno music. (I love German electronic music!)
Cool shops are 844 store (cafe), neutron (gallery + cafe), パゴージ (bar), subscribe (CD shop), media shop (bookstore), delta (party), 333 (Asian food) and more
Good local writers and artists are super! の井口さん (writer), K5 (photo), nao (painting), やまもとしんや (artist), jin-rui (video), ちーちゃん (painting), 豊原エス (poet), 馬場くん (Japanese sweets creator), 寺島ミドリ (artist), shuhei (DJ), matsuo (DJ), KAZUMA (DJ),
– You-ko Ishii – Depth
Recommended bands are Cyberne, Creep, fugue, BIGME, TLIZI, earwax, afro switcher
Kongari-Koubou in Minami-horie is a great shop, cafe, bakery, I love the croissant which they sell.
I create fliers and website of Depth.
– Halle Kume
^^^After securing my wheels behind the massive dumpster in Joshin Alley I
slink out into the night in search of sounds. Since recorded music was banned
in my country I depend on tapes of underground pirate radio stations smuggled
out of Algiers by my cousin Zamir. But it's a long wait between shipments.
Luckily there are plenty of places to quench my thirsty ears around town.
Namba Bears has always been the Holy Grail among the denizens of the livehouse
scene. They have the most eclectic of menus. A place where young bands can
learn from the grizzled masters who foraged back in the Eggplant days of
yore. For a reasonable door charge you can see the new up-and-cummers up-close
and personal. You will be more than curious to check out units with monikers
like Dirty is God, Pin Heel Slut and She Is Pippi.
Not too far away has Club Water featuring all stripes of sonic misfits. Beforehand, have a libation at Jazz Bar down the same street while the Master pulls out his old Don Cherry lps on BYG to get you in the mood. After the final feedback clusters fizzle and the amps are set to 'off' you can move on to Rockets and catch the new beat merchants who keep them dancin' feet happy and the cerebellum loops stimmed. Party with the MIDI crew featuring hen-tech DJ KA4U/system 609 with visuals provided by Vomit Anal-Tract. Or sway on over to Firefly for the latest all-nighter featuring bands you've never heard of and sounds you won't remember the next day becuz of the hypnotic reel to real. Noisemeister Masahiko Ohno was recently peeling the paint with his latest supergroup Vermilion Sands featuring scratchy tribal electro dub pulses of the highest order. On alternate nights you can groove to Osaka favorites Bush of Ghosts and Soul Fire - keeping Jah faith. May features 'Under the Microscope' wherein experimentalists Jet Vel of Empty Orchestra and Tim Olive will gather together some like-minded minimal soundsmiths.
A new chill space has opened on the 2nd floor of the Hong Kong building (down the road from Mother Hall). By day it's a studio for Osaka's uber -dancetroupe Baby-q. By nightfall drillchop9 alumni John, Yuka and Yoko get behind the wheels of steel for some dope grooves and ambient frequencies. Free your mind and your ass will follow.
If you're in the Umeda area then pop into Club Karma for the hip latest. You're just one stop away from Juso Fandango - keeping the indie crowd in the know for over 10 years.
See you on the road to indepenents...Halle Kume
– Robert Thirtle
One of NZ’s likeliest contenders for a major international breakthrough is Pacifier. Originally known as Shihad the band were forced to change their name after the September 11 bombings when US radio stations began refusing to play-list them, saying their name was too close to ‘Jihad’. They have signed with US heavyweight The Label and are currently working on their fifth album.
The Clean were one of my favourite NZ bands back in the ‘80s, and they have got back together for a tour around the country. They were one of the first bands to sign to Flying Nun Records back in the 80’s and were perhaps the originators of ‘garage music’. They have influenced many musicians both nationally and internationally over the years with their magical three-chord tunes and their characteristic rough-cut ‘Dunedin’ sound.
Stoods won the NZ 2001 National Battle of the Bands and have relocated to Auckland. Their debut single Portrait is now available, and coincides with the release of their new video which was directed by Andrew McGrath and funded by ‘NZ On Air’.
Panam the in-ya-face ass-kicking three-piece are about to release a six-track EP called New Concepts in sound.
The funking grooving Lucid 3 have released their album Running down the keys.
Betchadupa, The Feelers, Goodshirt and Rubicon will all be treating us by appearing on NZ’s TV2 throughout May playing live showcase gigs.
There’s a fast-growing Hip Hop scene here in NZ with quality music emerging from all corners of the country.
Top of the heap has to be P-Money who has just released his new album Big Things. P-Money has already made a mark on the world scene as a turn-tablist, coming third in the DMC World Finals last year. His new album is a collaboration with local musicians who have caught his attention. He hopes the album will encourage people to investigate other local talent and help the hip hop community to grow.
Hamilton hip hoppers Dubious Brothers (Chris Macro and Bro Tyna) are about to release their debut album Trade Secrets. Like P-Money they have also collaborated with other local talent, their aim being to ‘make beats with NZs best MCs’.
Taranaki female vocalist MC Tali met Roni Size ‘backstage’ at a Reprazent gig in Melbourne. She told him he should listen to her MCing, and his reply was ‘alright then girl, MC for me’. So she sang into his ear right there on the spot, and within two minutes he had her in the DJ booth with the mic in her hand. As a result MC Tali has now moved to London and is working on her debut solo album which is due out early next year on Roni’s Full Cycle record label.
A big favourite from Wellington is Fat Freddies Drop who never fail to impress the late-night crowds with their funky beats, jazzy riffs, stunning musical talent and sheer style.
Christchurch dance outfit Shapeshifter have been touring NZ over the past year or two, blowing away the crowds with their blistering dance music. All four members attended the Christchurch Jazz school.
Wellington: Bar Bodega, The Valve, Indigo.
Auckland: The Temple, Fu Bar, Dog’s Bollix, King’s Arms.
Christchurch: Dux deluxe.
– Scott Burgeson
I'm basically tired of guitar-based music – like Western painting, it's all been done before – and am much more interested in electronic stuff. Unfortunately, the electronic music scene in Korea is still microscopic – unless you include the grating prefab pseudo-techno that a lot of local mainstream pop and hip-hop acts like to spice up their tired music with. If you consider that Korea didn't have its first real rave until 1999 – and that particular ground-breaking party was thrown by a couple of foreigners and featured foreign DJs – you can see how the electronic revolution is still pretty much an underground phenomenon here. I remember shortly after I first came to Seoul back in '96, fresh from 6 months in London and packing dozens of great CDs recently acquired in that great world capital of electronic music, a Korean chick who had a club in South Seoul asked me to "DJ" ("CDJ"?) for a New Year Eve's party she was throwing. Back then drum 'n' bass was the hot new shit in Old Blighty, and I was excited to turn on the locals to the likes of Photek, Doc Scott, Goldie, LTJ Bukem and all the rest, but I swear as soon as I hit the decks, I cleared the floor faster than a tornado sweeping through Kansas. After about 20 minutes, some young clean-cut guy with beer in hand came up to me and shouted above the dark velvety assault of a killer bass line: "Play some fucking Nirvana!" "New Year's Eve" party, my ass. More like Old Year's Eve...
Anyway, two of the more interesting dabblers in the electronic that I've seen recently both happen to be women who've lived abroad, and who seem to have been quite influenced by that horizon-expanding experience. Sung Nak-young is a cool young graphic designer who studied at Cooper Union in New York for a couple of years, and who reminds me of a younger, punker version of Yi Paksa – think Koreanized enka spiced with equal parts shabu and LSD (she herself calls her music “electro pop” or “electro clash”). The last time I saw her (opening for legendary space funksters the Hwang Shin-hae Band, named after a popular local actress), she was dressed in a silver jacket topped off with a gigantic self-made mask-helmet that looked like a disco ball morphed into a cute glittery cyborg; when she wasn't jack-hammering her keyboard, she was lighting sizzling Chinese fountains and holding them aloft like some kind of cyber-shaman channeling Lord Shiva or Zeus. She still goes by her real name but told me she wants to create a stage name soon--whatever it is, you'll still be able to find her by the glare of those Chinese fountains...
Korea's been having a lot more raves these days (Fat Boy Slim is coming at the end of May to spin at an opening party for the 2002 World Cup), and one of the best local DJs is a young woman named Sal who looks and dresses like a goth (color: black, attitude: morose) but plays really smooth and excellent progressive trancy house. She lived in London for a while so that gives her a bit of a leg up on the local competition; I guess she's been around for a couple of years now, playing mostly for Sickboy, a local rave promotion company run by foreigners (they were responsible for the aforementioned rave back in 1999, and are also organizing the Fat Boy Slim party), and also at club in Hongdae called Myungwol-gwan. I recently saw her open at a rave featuring the Australian DJ/producer Anthony Pappa, and in my mind she kicked his ass left, right and center. I also enjoy watching her much more than most of the well-known local "punk" bands that many people in Japan have probably also heard about, like Crying Nut or No Brain . I saw Crying Nut in Pusan two years ago and for their closing number, they played a cover of “Stand by Me.” Whatever. Sometimes I feel like the expression “Korean punk” is an oxymoron, an anyway I'm too old for that kids' stuff. Bring on the beats, baby!
I don't know about Pusan or Taegu, the two other major cities in South Korea, but in Seoul there are two main areas to go to find cool clubs or live venues: Hongdae and Taehang-no. Hongdae is short for Hongik Taehakkyo (University), which is the country's most prestigious art school; it's on the No. 2 (Green) subway line in the northwest part of Seoul. My friend Mr. Ahn says, “Oh, that's a nalari area.” A nalari is something like a poser or a dandy, and is often used disparagingly to refer to people who reject mainstream social conventions, either intellectually or stylistically. (It's also the name of my publishing company: The Nalari Press.) Anyway, Hongdae has the best concentration of cool cafes, clubs, bars and record shops in Korea, as well as the hottest, hippest babes. If you're into punk rawk and other forms of loud teen guitar music, you'll no doubt want to check out Drug, Seoul's answer to Bears in Osaka and the undisputed birthplace of punk – way back when 5 or 6 years ago – in South Korea. Another interesting Hongik venue that opened up about two years ago is Ssamzie Space, which has a gallery and a number of artists-in-residence, but also has a basement theater/performance space that often has interesting music events; I saw Kill Your Idols there a while ago along with a bunch of other local hardcore acts, and they also have raves and dance parties, too, along with the occasional weekend flea market that seems to be especially popular with local Japanese kids living here who can always scrounge up some extra cash by selling their cool Tees and records to eager locals. And if you're here in late summer, the Ssamize Sound Festival (at nearby Yonsei University) is probably the country's leading indie music festival; last year visiting acts like Lolita No. 18 played alongside the local likes of Huckleberry Finn, Crying Nut, No Brain and dozens of others. If you want a good recent sampling of South Korea indie/punk rawk, check out the 2001 Ssamzie Sound Festival double CD, which you can find on the Net at: www.ssamnet.com
For me, though, when I'm in Hongdae I prefer to go to dance clubs like Myungwol-gwan, MI and Matmata, all of which can hold their own against whatever Osaka clubs have to offer. And if you're into virtuoso turntablism and wicked poppin', head-spinnin', booty-droppin’ and fierce calling out on the dance floor, be sure to check out Nb, the country's premier hip-hop venue, right in the heart of Hongdae. Anyway, if that's not your scene, the other main area in Seoul for more indie/alt type music is Taehangno, in the northeast part of town. Dream Theater, formerly known as Club SH Live, is probably the best live house in the area – I recently saw Stephen Malkmus and fellow Matador crooner Mary Timony (of Helium fame) play there to a packed out house (at one point in between songs I called out to Malkmus, “Do you like kimchi?” which had all the local kids busting out laughing; his excellent comeback: “I knew her in high school.”) The other main hipster hangout in Taehangno is Sal Bar, which is more of a bar but has interesting live shows at least once or twice a month. A few months ago I saw the great Uh Uh Boo band play an intimate show there before fewer than 50 people – if you've ever seen Jang Sun-woo's “Bad Movie,” their musical contribution to it is the high-point of both the soundtrack and the movie itself. Anyway, Sal has been around forever and is a small but legendary institution – you're always sure to meet interesting people whenever you go there.
Probably the coolest bar just to hang out at in Seoul and meet lots of spinners and trippers is "Seom" ("Island") which is located in Insa-dong in central Seoul. Insa-dong is kind of the main traditional arts and crafts area in Seoul, and also has a thick concentration of art galleries and museums; it's become somewhat commercialized and gentrified in the past few years but Seom has stayed as real and funky as it was when I first came here back in '96. It's in a little back alleyway in an old tiled-roofed Korean house, with cats running around everywhere, graffiti on the walls, a massive collection of vintage vinyl and a nice BBQ pit right in the main room (with dark-green army ammo boxes for seats). The ajumma ("aunty") is really cool and speaks a bit of English, and they serve excellent dongdongju or milky rice wine. It's hard to find but that's part of what keeps it special – you'll have to ask around for directions, since it would be too complicated to give them here...
Korea has lots of interesting artists like Choi Jeong-hwa, Lee Bul, Kim Beom, Ium, Lee Dongi and Chang Young-hae, to name but a few, but these days I prefer just to wander around the streets and experience Seoul itself as one giant work of art. That's far more stimulating and inspiring for me. The same goes for Korean writers – Yi Mun-yol, Kim Yeon-su and Shin Kyoung-Suk are a few well-regarded local heavyweights, but for me, the most exciting stories to read are the ones that unfold all around me as I wander through the endless alleyways and byways of this ancient-modern, massive-manic, 10-million-strong metropolis...
The most creative thing I've been doing these days is trying to survive by working as little as possible. Fortunately, it's much easier to slack off in Korea than it is in Japan, which is one of its more appealing advantages. I teach one conversation class three times a week in the late afternoon, exactly 4.5 hours a week, and that's enough to pay for my room (in a yogwan or inn right in the center of town) and food (I never cook at home, since it's so cheap eating out in Korea, and I'm in an area that's jam-packed with thousands of great restaurants – imagine being able to eat Korean BBQ for about \600 per person, which is about a third of the price in Japan, and in Japan, unlike here, you hardly get any free side dishes at Korean restaurants). And then for play money, I've been doing a lot of extra work for Korean TV these days – at least once or twice a week. I have a Korean manager and he just calls me up with all types of work, from historical dramas to game shows to documentary-type stuff. I find most Korean TV pretty infantile and insipid, but doing extra work is fun because I get to meet interesting people and it's not too demanding. There are a lot of Russians here and a lot of them work for my manager, so I've been meeting a lot of Russians lately, especially women. Last week I met two crazy, voluptuous Russian belly dancers from Khabarovsk, working on some historical drama; like many Russian chicks here, one of them has a Nigerian boyfriend. I was talking to another Russian guy on the set, a history student named Oleg from Moscow, and said to him, “It seems like a lot of Nigerian guys here are really into Russian women.” Oleg replied very drolly, "Well, I guess there are not so many Nigerian women here, so Russian women are the best choice for them." Unlike in Japan, most Korean women find black guys “musowoyo” (scary), and I guess a lot of African guys find Korean chicks too “girly,” not womanly enough. In my case, my sympathies tend to lie with the African guys--but don't hold me to that, because I wouldn't want to be called a generalist………………………………… Otherwise, the translated (into Korean) book version of Bug 5 has just been published here by a mid-level local publisher, and assuming that sales do modestly well, I'll have enough dead Korean kings to pay for the printing of Bug 6, which will be devoted strictly to Korean film. Look for it towards the end of summer (2002). And if I don't have enough cash to pay for printing, maybe I can at least scrape together enough money to pay for some Russian-style belly-dancing lessons – that could certainly be a lot of fun………………………………… ………………………………….………..