Music rock(s) the world || 6 Japanese bands to watch

Mereu am avut cate ceva de comentat la adresa trupelor de pe la noi, ba ca suna prea local, ba ca suna prea global. Poate tocmai de aceea m-a ros curiozitatea sa vad cum suna si la altii, pe principiul sa moara si capra vecinului daca e. Si uite-asa, am luat atlasul la mana sa vad de pe umerii caror tari se vede si se asculta muzica faina, care transcede babilonian dincolo de versuri.

Din motive evidente, am zis sa-ncep cu Japonia. N-a fost nici din pricina lui Shogun sau Miyazaki, Murakami sau Yoko, ci mai degraba a unor numere si procente care fac ca piata muzicala din Japonia sa fie mai cu mot. Nu doar a doua piata muzicala pe plan mondial (dupa SUA), dar inca pe deplin atasata de compact discuri, Japonia te face curios. La urma urmei, cum se face ca putem numi atatea dubioze colective americane (indie sau nu), dar cand vine vorba de cea de-a doua piata muzicala mondiala tot ce putem silabisi e litera J(-pop).

Am zis sa-ncep didactic, cu Google. Am picat cu brio, nu stau bine cu alfabetul non-latin. Am gasit insa un articol The Guardian din 2009, in care Fuminori Chikakoshi, capo di tutti capi la casa de discuri Rallye Label schita un profil demn de cel putin o urmarire generala. Cu simt civic si muzical, m-am sesizat si-am cautat o parere 2.0 despre starea actuala a industriei muzicale indie japoneze.

Cum n-am facut cursuri de jurnalism, am vorbit si cu o a doua sursa, Ken Yoshitake de la Dead Funny Records, ca sa inteleg mai bine cum sta treaba. Japonia e colegul tau de clasa olimpic la 2 materii si jumatate (la a treia a participat pe echipe), care preda mereu lucrarea primul si e acceptat la MIT din clasa a 11-a, dar cumva nu reuseste sa treaca de proba de rezistenta la sport.

La fel e si cu industria muzicala japoneza – nu a fost deocamdata luata pe sus de revolutia digitala – servicii populare de streaming precum Spotify sau Rdio nu sunt deocamdata disponibile, iar veniturile provenite din vanzarea de compact discuri reprezinta 85% din veniturile totale provenite din vanzari (comparativ, in SUA, veniturile din vanzarile de album in format fizic reprezinta doar 30%).

N-a fost deci de mirare ca atunci cand Japonia a stranutat in 2013 (piata a scazut cu 17%), intreaga piata muzicala a facut febra.

“In ultimii cinci ani, multe magazine si publicatii de specialitate si-au inchis usile. Desi Japonia ramane una dintre tarile in care compact discurile inca se vand, mi-ar fi greu sa raspund in totalitate afirmativ la intrebarea daca avem acelasi numar de magazine care vand CD-uri. Totusi, casele de discuri, artistii si magazinele de specialitate fac tot ce se poate pentru a imbunatati situatia,” explica Fuminori.

CD-urile japoneze pluseaza peste ceea ce suntem noi obisnuiti: un fel de 2 in 1, ofera materiale si continut extra. Si daca eu am primit bonus un amarat de instrumental pe ultimul CD achizitionat, ei bine, fanii japonezi sunt ademeniti cu bilete la evenimente speciale unde pot sa-si intalneasca artistii preferati.

De curand, Golden Bomber, o formatie visual-kei air rock, au incercat o noua strategie. Desi renumiti pentru “bonusurile” oferite cu succes la fiecare lansare, ultimul album contine un tracklist si… atat!

Se pare insa ca nu a fost o strategie de succes, iar numerele au vorbit de la sine: exemplarele vandute se rusineaza la gandul succesului obtinut cu titluri mai vechi, ce obisnuiau sa contina materiale extra. Pana la urma, s-ar putea deci ca predilectia pentru formate fizice sa nu fie doar rezultatul unor factori culturali, ci mai degraba un mod sigur de a-ti intalni artistii preferati.

Poate or fi cantand despre oi fantastice sau la fel de bine despre chicken teriyaki, insa versurile sunt doar niste detalii cand vine vorba despre urmatoarele 6 recomandari.

SHINTARO SAKAMOTO

OGRE YOU ASSHOLE

ROTH BART BARON

MITSUME

TOKUMARU SHUGO

LEATHER

http://leathertheband.bandcamp.com/releases

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Online radiostation curating the best new music for the music aficionados. Don’t Get Bored.

Yet, surprisingly, I did get a tad bored. Or maybe I got curious and snoopy, after all, haven’t you ever wondered who are the Backstabbers and the Amsterdams of Chile or Poland? I sure did, so let’s find out what rocks all over the world and never get bored, shall we?

First off, Japan.

If you stumbled upon Music Week while waiting for a dentist appointment back in April, not only should you hang on to that gem of a mouth-drilling-soulless-muso, but you might also already know that Japan’s music market is utterly unique. The world’s second-largest music market (after the United States), Japan’s reliance on physical products is one of a kind.

So, when you have the world’s second-largest music market, but no clue about their indie rock music scene, doesn’t that bother you at all?! Point taken and I started Googling, but my Japanese is basic – sayonara, sushi, Hayao Miyazaki, you get the drill – hence my total lack of enlightenment! I did come across a piece from The Guardian though, where Fuminori Chikakoshi, head honcho at Rallye Label was sharing his thoughts on the Japanese indie music scene. Five years later, I thought it’s time for someone to follow up and see what has changed ever since.

Fuminori was kind enough to step in the game and share his “updated” insights, while Ken Yoshitake from Dead Funny Records has helped me to better grasp the inner workings of the Japanese indie rock music scene.

Known for making things smaller, faster, and above all first, Japan has yet to embrace the digital music revolution. Streaming services like Spotify and Rdio are not yet available (oh, and how well we can relate to that!), while CD sales are accounted for about 85% of sales (for example, in the US physical sales account for 30% of recorded music revenues). So when Japan coughed in 2013 (its music market shrank nearly 17%), the entire music market got the cold.

“In the last five years, many CD/record stores and music magazines closed down their businesses. Though Japan is one of the countries where CDs still sell somehow, when asked if we still have the same numbers of CD stores like five years ago, I could not say YES with confidence. However, the remaining labels, artists, and CD/record stores are trying hard to change things in such severe situations,” says Fuminori.

Still and all, compact discs remain the go to item, especially for idol music fans. These usually offer bonus content such as greet and meet passes or tickets that can be redeemed for access to live events, explains Ken. If a compact disc is the price I’d need to pay to get a ticket that will let me high five my favourite artist, well, I’ll have ten of those, please!

It’s worth mentioning that more recently, Golden Bomber, a rock visual-kei air band, have put to the proof a new approach. While having successfully offered bonus material with their every new release until now, they chose to drop their latest title with no extra added content. The numbers speak for themselves: the album sales fell short of expectations when compared to older titles that used to contain bonus content. As Ken points out, Japan’s soft spot for physical products might not be just a result of cultural factors, but rather a fast lane ticket to your idols.

But what’s big in Japan at the moment? “As far as I know, I don’t think that there is such a big movement going on here now. In the 90s, the heyday of Shibuya-kei, we really didn’t have the internet, and magazines, record stores, and labels were so powerful that they led such movements. Now, everyone has the internet, all the information has been compartmentalized, and magazines and record stores have lost their power that they used to have. Maybe that is partly why a big movement hardly occurs in indie scenes now. But, I believe that music itself always has an energy that can change things, and personally I am hoping to such a big movement will happen sometime in the near future,” adds Fuminori.

They might as well be singing about flying red pigs or a wild sheep’s chase, but there’s still something otherworldly beautiful about these next 6 Japanese bands to watch.

SHINTARO SAKAMOTO

A cult icon in Japan for well over 20 years, Shintaro Sakamoto was formerly a member of psychedelic rock phenomenon Yura Yura Teikoku. Following the group’s break-up in 2010, he released his solo debut album How to Live with a Phantom back in 2012, while his latest collection of ethereal sounds Let’s Dance Raw has just hit shelves this month.

Let’s Dance Raw might as well be the soundtrack of a jazzy groovy party where Tim Burton-esque characters are dancing their way into the sunset.

OGRE YOU ASSHOLE

Having already released 4 albums, OYA’s hypnotic grooves will make you feel you’re swimming with giant jelly fish, while they’re probably singing about anything else but ink squids and underwater trippin’.

ROTH BART BARON

MITSUME

TOKUMARU SHUGO

With a penchant for intertwining tens of your non-instruments of choice, Tokumaru Shugo’s eclectic arrangements are a collection of magical ditties. And in case you were wondering, here’s the English version lyrics too, sealed and approved by the man himself.

Before the source of voices which boil down gets past the throat
If you spit out what you have seen up until then

The source of different voices reaches the throat
before what you have seen up until then gets erased

Keeping the shape unchanged
Waiting on that same path

Before the source of different voices gets past the throat
Before you put some oil ’cause you can’t move from where you are
Before even languid memories get erased

Keeping the shape unchanged
Waiting on that same path

LEATHER

OK, it was either a long playlist that started me on Japanese or LEATHER are actually singing in a language I understand. Either way, they still sound Japanesly badass.

 

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