Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji, music

Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji (week three)


In part three of our series on Hideki Kaji, we wrap up with a look at how his solo career has weathered the ages and remained, by and large, completely unchanged. Is this a good or a bad thing, though? Read on for the Memories of Shibuya perspective…

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Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji, music

Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji (week two)

mini skirt

After Bridge’s disbandment, Hideki Kaji made the decision to set out and make his name as a solo artist; which proved to be quite a good call, as his releases under his own name consistently rank among the best examples of the Shibuya-kei musical style one is likely to hear. In week two of our spotlight, we look at the early years of his solo work, in which he stepped out from under the shadow of his peers in the Shibuya-kei scene and made his own identity known to the world.

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Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji, music, Uncategorized

Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji (week one)


Hideki Kaji’s name may be an obscure one to Western audiences, but as one of the architects of the Shibuya-kei sound, his influence on Japanese music would be nothing less than utterly irresponsible to overlook. While he is rightfully known as a songwriter first and foremost, the multi-instrumentalist Kaji has worn many hats across his four decades as a musician – and is every bit as notable as a solo artist as he is for any of the various other projects he has contributed to.

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in the mix

In the Mix: Marteen Lu’s Whiteboardjournal Mix

As international coverage of Asian music is almost entirely dominated by the discussion of Korea, Japan and India – disregarding outliers like Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and the occasional pop idol from Taiwan or Hong Kong – to much of the world, the music scene in Southeast Asia is something of a mystery.

One of the most interesting things to happen in this rarely-acknowledged part of the musical world is a quiet Shibuya-kei revival; when the Thai indie-poppers in Smallroom covered Flipper’s Guitar’s Three Cheers for Our Side in its entirety, it could easily have been something of a random curiosity, but in SE Asian acts like IkkubaruChocopurin and Sacrophonic the spirit of Shibuya-kei is being kept alive – which brings us to this month’s featured mix, from Jakarta, Indonesia’s Martin “Marteen Lu” Lusuandie.

Serving as something of a Shibuya-kei primer, featuring both the genre’s influences (such as Francophone chanteuses Cathy Claret, France Gall and Vanessa Paradis) and a wonderful selection of Japanese artists, Lusuandie’s mix is intended as the soundtrack to a cultural revolution; bringing forth the lessons from Shibuya-kei’s heyday and applying them to contemporary Indonesia. And, of course, if you like what you hear, you can check out more from Martin at his Mixcloud page.

Artist Spotlight: Hirohisa Horie, music

Artist Spotlight: Hirohisa Horie (weeks three and four)

As one of the background players who has been quietly but crucially forming the sound of Shibuya-kei for decades, the songs that have benefited from multi-instrumentalist Hirohisa Horie’s golden touch provide a portrait of an exciting and diverse genre; all the better to choose his work for a spotlight. Last installment looked at his work with Kahimi Karie and his own group Neil & Iraiza, and this week finds our attention directed to his work with another studio player whose influence can never be understated.

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music, news

News that didn’t get posted before, rounded up and posted

Ooh lawdy. There’s a lot here. Having been busy with a flood of other things intruding from that pesky “real life in which I’m not a superstar music journalist who can afford to support himself on writing alone” and the equally pesky “tendency to completely forget about that which I was supposed to be writing about,” the sole regular writer on Memories of Shibuya has been a lot less regular than usual. No matter! Hopefully the old “better late than never” maxim will hold true here, as none of these stories are truly “new” in any meaningful sense, but they are, in fact, new to Memories of Shibuya so I suppose they still count as “news.”

Details of new Cornelius single announced

As had previously been scooped here on MemoShibu, Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada will be doing music for the newest installment in the venerable Ghost in the Shell anime franchise – notably separate from the Scarlett Johansson vehicle currently slated for a 2017 release. In the lead-up to the theatrical anime feature, a new TV movie by the name of Ghost in the Shell ARISE: ALTERNATIVE ARCHITECTURE will be aired on April 5, with opening and ending themes made in collaboration between Oyamada and anime-music veteran Maaya Sakamoto, who provides the voice for the anime’s protagonist Motoko Kusanagi. The CD single for the Cornelius/Sakamoto songs from ALTERNATIVE ARCHITECTURE will be released June 17, and the original soundtrack will be coming out alongside the theatrical feature on June 20. Composition for the theme songs is being overseen by Shintaro Sakamoto of Yura Yura Teikoku, who featured on Buffalo Daughter’s “Love & Food” last year and, apparently, has no relation to the other Sakamoto featured on the compositions in question.

Hideki Kaji and THE SUZAN releasing a collaborative 7″ on April 18th

Peter, Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” was the kind of song that would have made “one-hit wonder” accusations completely inevitable, even if the band had followed it up with a string of solid hit singles as they most assuredly did not. With an impossibly infectious whistled melody based on the “Oriental riff” and a beautiful sing-along chorus, it was the kind of single the band was never going to top – which is probably why they never tried. It didn’t take a genius to notice how the stark post-Marxist angst of “It Don’t Move Me” was as much a retaliation against the success of “Young Folks” as anything else, and even though the group has done quite well for themselves, the shadow of that whistled hook looms long over everything they’ve done since. Naturally, the Swedish group’s biggest hit resonated with Hideki Kaji, whose obsession with Sweden certainly has never been any secret, and so for the upcoming Record Store Day event Niw! Records is releasing a cover version of “Young Folks” by Kaji and like-minded indie group THE SUZAN.

Hideki Kaji, Yakenohara and Masakatsu Takagi also released a 7″

If there’s one thing Hideki Kaji loves more than border shirts and Swedish indie-pop, it’s releasing things on 7″ vinyl. His single “Sound of Felicity,” made in collaboration with fellow scene luminaries Yakenohara and Masakatsu Takagi (who Aphex Twin fans probably know from his “Let My Fish Loose“) came out on February 25, and never seemed worth mentioning until just now for reasons that completely escape me.

Reiji Okii of Cymbals’ band released an album, was quite good, didn’t get mentioned on MemoShibu previously

No excuses. They’re called TWEEDEES, they sound like vintage Shibuya-kei, their latest video is embedded at the beginning of this post, and their new album has been out for weeks now. Check them out.

Cornelius and U-zhaan’s “Homesick in Calcutta” series on YouTube

Continuing the collaboration that previously gave us a very silly YMO cover, Cornelius and U-zhaan released a 5-part series to YouTube as a counterpart to the latter’s recently-released Tabla Rock Mountain album. Definitely more in the realm of “interesting curiosity” than “actually enjoyable”, but… well, mileage may vary, maybe some of you will really be into these videos. They’re bizarre enough to appeal to somebody, I suppose.

QYPTHONE’s Izumi Okawara released a single, is on iTunes internationally

While QYPTHONE is officially broken up, the difference is incredibly arbitrary, as the recently-release Strawberry Jam single proves. With the single sung by Izumi Okawara and written by Kentaro Ishigaki, both of the bizarrely-named Shibuya-kei group, and released on fellow ex-member Takeshi Nakatsuka’s Delicatessen label, all three members of QYPTHONE are officially involved with this “solo” effort from a band that’s “broken up.” Now, it’s in no way a bad thing that they haven’t split up as much as it would initially seem, but it does call to attention how arbitrary bands’ status as “together” or not really can be.

music, news

FIGHT LIKE A GIRL has a nice cover, too!

The official cover art for Saku’s first full-length, coming out April 29th (mark your calendars!) on Space Shower Music, has just been revealed – and it would seem that the days of Saku album covers with endearingly sloppy illustrations instead of photos are dead and gone. They shall not be mourned, as the alternative is preferable by an incredibly wide margin. FIGHT LIKE A GIRL promises to be quite the album, with Saku’s new backing band consisting of Shibuya-kei veteran Hideki Kaji on bass, Hirohisa Horie on keys, Shuuichirou Satou of Analogfish drumming and WATARU.S of SISTERJET on guitar (although Saku will, presumably, be playing lead as per usual). It’s one hell of a lineup, and there could be no better frontwoman for such a group than the endlessly charming Saku.