—salon a sunday
When is a label compilation like a game of soccer? I have no idea, but this mix is definitely scoring big points in my book. Featuring 5 artists, this album is a surprisingly cohesive mix of dreamy, groovy, and danceable electronic pop that is pretty much the essence of late nights in a dark fashionable Japanese bar. Hell, it’s Saturday night and I’m at home listening to this and I somehow feel like I’ve gone out, it’s that good. escalator records is now called Big Love, and although they started as an electronic music shop, they now import all kinds of indie music as well as producing a few artists themselves. I haven’t been to the shop yet but sounds like it could be one of the best in Tokyo. If you can find it that is.
Well, what can you expect from something titled Odyssey-1985-Sex really? Abrasive, yelly, new wave-ish punk culminating in screams and a fairly unbearable chanting of ‘1985’ and ‘SEX’. Side B, repeats the same song but with a sultry girl singing instead, which improves the song greatly, if not turning it into a bit of a porn soundtrack at times. I suppose punishing alley sex might be appealing to some people, but if this is what sex in the 80s was like, growing up in the 90s never seemed so good.
—Saturday Night Highway
I couldn’t decide if this would be absolutely horrible or surprisingly awesome. Turns out it’s neither. After a brief second of intro indicating some terrible 80s metal was coming, it turned into a decent garagey track. Side B is a bit more bluesy, lamenting the return to Kawasaki, and sounding like there are a few things he’d rather not revisit. Overall, not bad, completely unrelated cover art notwithstanding.
This sounds just like it looks and this makes me happy. Two songs that make me want to spend endless hours in a dark Asian tiki lounge in the 60s drinking fantastically strong fruity cocktails while talking to glamourous men smoking too many cigarettes. It’s a little bit dangerous and entirely sultry. In other words, perfect.
—Side 2, Track 1
Sometimes you know exactly what you’re getting but just don’t care. I found this gem in an amazing junk shop in Akizuki and immediately fell in love. Maybe it would even surprise me, I thought. Wishful thinking. The album starts and finishes with a couple of pretty tracks that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on some of the 60s Cantonese records I’ve bought (well, politics aside anyways). This doesn’t last long though, and the you’re suddenly immersed in what feels like a rousing military wedding in a broadway show. You want pomp and circumstance, you got it. These military songs are known as gunka in Japan, and encompass all forms of nationalist military propaganda songs, marches and national anthems that were produced from as far back as the 1860s right through WWII. The softer songs were apparently an attempt to instill a sense of war as epic and engender warm feelings toward Japan. And I’m guessing, pretty effective. I’ll never listen to this again, but it’s an interesting cultural artefact nonetheless.