Ever since its creation the French record label My Love Is Underground, has tried to bring back to the music scene a kind of house and deep-house that had nearly disappeared from clubs a few years ago. In doing so it created a new fashion!
In the footsteps of Jeremy Underground –the founder of MLIU- the British Dj Brawther (also part of MLIU) and his sidekick Alixkun, a famous resident of the Japanese night scene, are bringing back forgotten tracks from the island, through this three vinyl LP released on Les disques mystiques & Jazzy couscous.
It was just about time! The Japanese music scene has a great reputation with artists like, Fumiya Tanaka, Soichi Terada and Hunee; but also through its public. Indeed, the Japanese have a reputation of being serious connoisseurs. For artists, travelling to Japan is always a little of a challenge.
But despite this, or maybe because of this, Japan has been for a long time a sanctuary for some of house music best Djs who came to the island seeking a public to play for, at a time when their music wasn’t at its peek elsewhere. If you doubt this have a look at this crazy Sadar Bahar set played in Tokyo in 2007
But for us, simple amateurs, no need to go to Tokyo. Brawther and Alixkun have done all the work for us. And in terms of shape and content the job is well done. Right from the start the sleeve illustrates nicely the tracks. Tracks themselves printed on thick 180grams vinyl, that are a pleasure to handle.
But let’s make room to the music:
The first track « T.P.O Punk inc (Hiroshi’s Dub) » produced in 1989 by Kan Tagaki and Hiroshi Fujiwara, offers some bouncy deep-house, with a disturbing vocal that sounds like a broken machine. About thirty seconds later, the main chord arrives accompanied by a slight echo and some surface sound. The mixture creates music a little different from what we are used to and allows us to feel the premises of this unknown music scene.
The second track « I need Luv » produced by Katsuya Sano in 1989, also start with a weird machine like vocal, but it is soon disappears when the strong base line kicks in, accompanied by an undefined human voice. Although the limit is often thin, we are definitely here in presence of a techno track, as demonstrated by the strength of the raw percussions.
When you flip this first vinyl, you find « The Ecstazy Boys feat shiro amamiya » released in 1992. Right form the start we are hooked by the sweet sound of the synth. The instrument used here has a very disco touch, unlike those used today that sound a lot darker and mechanic. The music feels like a crazy solo jam that got out of hand, rather than some kind of production made on a computer.
The first vinyl ends with « Jazzadelic-I got a rythm (1991 original mix) », which starts with a repetitive vocal : « I got the rythm// you got the rythm ». The slow base echoes perfectly the slow vocal, making us danse alternatively on one foot or the other, in almost a binary fashion. But the acid surface sound keeps us alert.
The second vinyl starts on a true gem, «Sawauchi Jinku », produced in 1992 by Akiko Kanazawa and remixed by one of Japan’s most notorious Dj, Soichi Terada, a member of the Rush Hour crew. The feminine vocal, used here more as an instrument than as mean communication, gives the vinyl its true identity. It’s the first track that one can easily associate with Japan. The addition of different sound effects gives the track a real identity. I can’t wait to hear its effect on a crowd!
The second track of the C side, « Blessing (Magic Ware remix) », starts with a trippy vocal and some really eighties effects, that feel like they could have been produced by R2D2 himself. But afterwards the track reminds us of American music, with an almost gospel like choir. It’s the only track of this LP where that much emphasis is given to the vocal.
The following track, « YPF –Trance of love (tokyo offshore mix) », is definitely one the masterpieces of this LP. Its jazz like atmosphere contrasts with what we had heard previously. For the first time the emphasis is put on a brass instrument, a saxophone. The music stays very soft, unlike in many modern productions where the saxo is used to bring a touch of madness. After about a minute, appears a sweet base accompanied by a guitar chord, thus allowing the music to pick up some energy once again, without breaking its smoothness. Definitely a track made for an after party, or closing a set.
The track D1, « It’s gonna be alright », made by Yukuhiro Fukotomi, brings us straight away into a deep and groovy sound with a quick BPM. Two chords appear every other beat to catch our attention.
D2 bears, « Crazy », by Hiroshi Matsui. It’s a strange sound as each phase has a very unique style, so that you either feel like your listening to some deep-house or minimal. You could almost find this kind of music on a label like Perlon.
Same for the track E1, « Home (6.A.M mix) », by Takaheru Kunimoto, which reminds us sometimes of a micro-house style near that of artists such as Masomenos.
« Violets-Sunset », which follows next is more lounge. We do not here recognize the sounds of instrument we are used to (especially for that time) such as the Roland 808, but a palette of effects and samples completely unheard off. Nothing surprising when you take in account the fact that the Japanese have always been at the forefront of technological evolution.
« GWM, Deep Loop (Edit) », is in the continuity of the previous track, with a sweet house crowned by a cold and distant surface sound, which refreshes the music and prepares the ground for the noticeable synth.
The final side of the vinyl bears three tracks: the first one, « Fake », produced by Square, blends effectively a very acid sound with a vocal that could come form a speech made by Martin Luther King.
Next is « Matric track », produced by Hiraku Nagasawa, wich sounds like classic deep-house with a slow rhythm. The ultimate track of this LP « Turquoise Love », produced by Dan k, uses a vocal sample well known to the amateurs of American deep-house as it is also used by Kenny Dixon Jr, on the track A1 of his vinyl Moods &Grooves Calssics V4. The track is more organic than the previous ones and reminds us one of the last vinyls released by Kann Records: Things From the Basement Vol.One.
This is a truly surprizing LP! We came here expecting to discover an entire new genre, but we end up realizing that their is more continuity here than rupture. In reality this LP is not a revolution in style. But its subtlety lies on thin elements such as surface sounds, unique samples or effects, specific to the Japanese scene. This makes the LP even more interesting, as it will allow the music to blend in easily with the rest of your collection, and will make your more focused on the little shades present here!