Kazuki Tomokawa - Le Petit Papier Important & Detaramena Yoru (2010)

Kazuki Tomokawa (友川かずき, or in recent years more often with his first name in katakana: 友川カズキ) is a Japanese folk singer, songwriter and poet. He's also a painter, a bicycle race fanatic, occasional actor and, reportedly, quite the skilled drinker. Born in the same year as Kan Mikami (三上寛), 1950, he too debuted in the first half of the 1970s, and over the years created a highly personal, very passionate style, accumulating a vast œuvre and eventually being picked up by PSF Records (originally a psych rock label, as the name - Psychedelic Speed Freaks - indicates). They have recorded together, too: a shared live album entitled 御縁 ('Goen', meaning 'Fate', but with a play on the word for '5 yen coin') was released in 1994; there was also a video cassette of the event. More video material was released in 2004: a live DVD entitled ピストル:渋谷アピア・ライブ 2003 ('Pistol: Shibuya Apia Live 2003'); a great concert, unfortunately not the greatest sound.

With Vincent Moon's documentary on Tomokawa ('La Faute des Fleurs', referring to the 1993 album 花々の過失, 'Hanabana no Kashitsu' aka 'Fault of Flowers') doing the rounds at film festivals and in art theatres, Tomokawa's profile is finally on the rise. To tie in with this, a lavish book containing all (well, most of, I noticed some omissions) his lyrics from 1974 to 2010 has been published along with his new album 青いアイスピック ('Aoi Aisupikku', 'Blue Ice Pick'). It is entitled 'ユメは日々元気に死んでゆく ('Yume wa hibi genki ni shinde yuku'), which was already the title of a 1998 album (except there the kanji for the word 'yume' was used, rather than the katakana characters: 夢) and was translated there as 'Dreams Die Blithefully Day by Day'.

The book, released by Million Shuppan (ミリオン出版) is housed in a cardboard slipcase that also contains an extra folder with a DVD inside: 大事な小さい紙/出鱈目な夜 ('Daiji na chiisai kami / Detarame na yoru', or as it is also labeled on the cover: 'Le Petit Papier Important & Detaramena Yoru'). The first part refers to 61 minutes of live recordings made in 'Kingdom of Belgium', France and Switzerland in 2006; the second part to a 47 minute concert recorded 7 August 2010 at a place called Cafe Gati. On top of this, there's an interview (in Japanese, no subtitles) of about 20 minutes.

The whole package can still be obtained through various Japanese sources, but will cost you 69$ outside Japan. For us gaijin, this is perhaps a bit steep, considering that the book is entirely in Japanese. Since the DVD is not available separately, you can have a look here.

Tracklists: below you'll find the Japanese titles, followed in the case of the European recordings with date and location of recording; a transliteration of each title followed by the translation as given on Tomokawa's site; and the album on which each track was first featured.

大事な小さい紙 (Le Petit Papier Important) 27 Oct - 9 Nov 2006

1. サーカス (rec. 28 Oct, Ghent, Belgium) (Saakasu / The Circus)
from: 俺の裡で鳴り止まない詩~中原中也作品集~ / Ore no uchi ni de nariyamanai uta - Nakahara Chūya sakuhinshū / Poems That Won't Stop Crying From Within Me (1978)

2. ジャン・ジュネに訊け (rec. 31 Oct, Bourogne, France) (Jan June ni kike / Ask Jean Genet)
from: エリセの目 / Erise no me / The Eyes Of Elise (2001)

3. おじっちゃ (rec. 2 Nov, Marseille, France) (Ojitcha / Grandpa)
from: 肉声 / Nikusei / A Natural Voice (1976)

4. ぜい肉な朝 (rec. 3 Nov, Lyon, France) (Zeiniku na asa / Fat In The Morning Light)
from: ぜい肉な朝 / Zeiniku na asa / Fat In The Morning Light (1996)

5. 似合った青春 (rec. 4 Nov, Geneva, Switzerland) (Niatta seishun / A Fitting Adolescence)
from: 肉声 / Nikusei / A Natural Voice (1976)

6. ピストル (rec. 6 Nov, Metz, France) (Pisutoru / Pistol)
from: サトル / Satoru / Satoru (2003)

7. 訳のわからん気持 (rec. 7 Nov, Strasbourg, France) (Wake no wakaran kimochi / Can't Comprehend The Meaning Behind These Emotions)
from: サトル / Satoru / Satoru (2003)

8. カラブラン (rec. 9 Nov, Nantes, France) (Kara Buran / Kara Bran)
from: 青い水 赤い水 / Aoi mizu akai mizu / Blue Water, Red Water (2008)

9. グッドフェローズ (rec. 4 Nov, Geneva, Switzerland) (Guddo ferōzu / Good Fellows)
from: 一人盆踊り / Hitori bon-odori / Dance A Bonodori Alone (1995)

出鱈目な夜 (Detaramena Yoru) 7 Aug 2010
(the title is hard to translate, something like 'An Evening of Nonsense')
subtitled in the cardboard folder: 欧州ツアー秘録 (Ōshū tsuā hiroku / European Tour, Secret Notes)

1. 花あそび (Hana-asobi / Flower Trumps)
from: 青いアイスピック / Aoi aisupikku / Blue Ice Pick (2010)

2. 三種川 (Mitanegawa / Mitane River)
from: イナカ者のカラ元気 / Inakamono no karagenki / A Bumpkin's Empty Bravado (2009)

3. 海みたいな空だ (Umi-mitai na sora da / Look At The Sky, It's Like The Ocean)
from: 無惨の美 / Muzan no bi / Beauty Without Mercy (1986)

4. 顕信の一撃 (Kenshin no ichigeki / A Blow By Kenshin)
from: 顕信の一撃 / Kenshin no ichigeki / A Blow By Kenshin (2002)

5. シシャモ (Shishamo / A Smelt-Fish)
from: エリセの目 / Erise no me / The Eyes Of Elise (2001)

6. 先行一車 (Senkō Issha / Senkô Issha)
from: 青いアイスピック / Aoi aisupikku / Blue Ice Pick (2010)

7. 青い水 赤い水 (Aoi mizu akai mizu / Blue Water, Red Water)
from: 青い水 赤い水 / Aoi mizu akai mizu / Blue Water, Red Water (2008)

8. 絵の具の空 (Enogu no sora / Pigment Sky)
from: イナカ者のカラ元気 / Inakamono no karagenki / A Bumpkin's Empty Bravado (2009)

9. 明るい耳 (Akarui mimi / Bright Ears)
from: 青いアイスピック / Aoi aisupikku / Blue Ice Pick (2010)

10. 赤いポリアン (Akai porian / A Red Polyanthus)
from: 赤いポリアン / Akai porian / A Red Polyanthus (2000)

11. 生きてるって言ってみろ (Ikiteru 'tte itte miro / Say With Conviction, I Am Alive)
from: 千羽鶴を口に咬えた日々 / Senbazuru o kuchi ni kuwaeta hibi / Clenching A Senbazuru In My Mouth Day After Day (1977)

12. ワルツ (Bonus Track) (Warutsu / Waltz)
from: 無惨の美 / Muzan no bi / Beauty Without Mercy (1986)

Newly uploaded files, November 2011. The original zipped folder has been freshly cut up into 5 new chunks, so don't combine these with any original parts you may have - will not work!

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Ground-Zero - Consume Red (1997)

Throughout the '90s, Ground-Zero (yes, with hyphen) was Ōtomo Yoshihide's behemoth band, a seething cauldron of jazz, rock and noise, of reappropriation and sheer creative energy. Their last concert took place in Tokyo in March 1998 and was released on CD a year later, entitled: 'Last Concert'. It culminated in a thrilling 40 minute version of 'Consume Red', the massive project initially recorded only one year earlier, where samples of a recording by Korean National Treasure Kim Seok-chul (김석철) playing the hojok or taepyeongso (a double reed wind instrument, similar to a shawm) serves as the backbone for a slowly unfurling but ultimately crushing group improvisation. What you get here is that original version, all 57 glorious minutes of it. The people involved (first names first):

Yoshihide Ōtomo (大友良英): turntables and guitar
Sachiko M[atsubara] (松原幸子): sampler
Yumiko Tanaka (田中悠美子): futozao-shamisen
Masahiro Uemura (植村昌弘): drums
Yasuhiro Yoshigaki (芳垣安洋): drums
Naruyoshi Kikuchi (菊地成孔): soprano saxophone
Mitsuru Nasuno (ナスノミツル): electric bass
Kazuhisa Uchihashi (内橋和久): electric guitar, effects

This beautiful monster was released in April 1997 on Creativeman Disc. (Japan) and on RéR (Recommended) in the UK. It was subtitled vol. 1 of the 'Consume / Consume Ground-Zero' project. 2 hard to find albums released within the following year contained remixes and reconstructions; they are entitled 'Conflagration' and 'Consummation', vols. 2 and 3.


Rolf Julius - Wet Speakers (2009)

The tribute continues...
A CD-R release limited to 100 hand-numbered copies. It came out on the Canadian Oral label in 2009. Made available at Rolf Julius's Music for a Wide Plain performance, Oboro, Montreal, September 18, 2009. Sounds like an electro-acoustic rain forest.
New link!


Colloquio - Va Tutto Bene (2001)

What, more Italian (dark) wave? This blog ran out of steam pretty fast...
OK, so next time I'll go for something more predictably cool, but check this out - 'a sick and disturbed mixture between Depeche Mode and Le Masque. Deep, dense, morbid wave with impressive Italian lyrics - these melodies will break you into little pieces...' Says the press release, and they ought to know what they're talking about. This album has always had a special significance for me, even though it doesn't sound like anything else in my collection and it's quite likely that when presented with a supposedly similar band, I would hate it. I'm not sure what makes the difference for me here - it must be either the melodies or the vocals, or both; they are imbued with a gloomy warmth, while at the same time being very sober and restrained. I'm not sure what's up with all these depressed Italians, Le Masque too can sound pretty melancholy (check out some of the longer songs on 'Dal Diario di un Soffiatore di Vetro'). The guy on the cover here looks a bit like Samuel Beckett, another happy-go-lucky scamp.
This was Colloquio's second full-length album; the first one was a self-released CD in 1997 ('...E lo spettacolo continua' - 'and the spectacle continues'), and even that was preceded by numerous cassette releases, as far back as 1993. I wonder if they took their name from that Le Masque 12". Unfortunately I haven't heard any of those tapes or even that first CD, so if someone can hook me up, please be so kind. From this album on (July 2001) they have been on Eibon Records. Label boss Mauro Berchi must be pretty fond on them: not only did he invite vocalist Gianni Pedretti to sing on a couple of songs on the next two albums by his own band, Canaan (more somber Italians), both bands even merged into a new project named Neronoia. Meanwhile there has also been another Colloquio album in 2007 ('Si Muove e Ride' - 'he moves and smiles'), which didn't really connect with me like 'Va tutto bene' ('all is well') did. Check this one out and tell me what you think. Translations below are my own.
1. Un nome, una data (A Name, a Date)
2. L'Appuntamento (The Appointment)
3. Va tutto bene (All Is Well)
4. Solo con me (Alone With Me)
5. Benvenuti (Welcome)
6. Tu che passi (You Who Go By)
7. L'unica cosa che ho (The Only Thing I Have)
8. Va tutto bene (II parte) (All Is Well (Part 2))
9. Irraggiungibile (Unreachable)
10. Io sono gli altri (I Am the Others)
Some of the lyrics are very nice, maybe I'll translate those too some day. In the meantime:


Bruno Meillier & Dan Warburton - Cho (2002)

Some French improv of the busier variety, today, by Bruno Meillier (electronics only here) and Dan Warburton (violin & (prepared) piano). Sounds a bit old-fashioned with its prickly dark ambient backdrop and hyper-active scrabbling and string torture on top, but definitely enjoyable.
Meillier is really a sax player, he was co-founder of Les i in 1979, and played on 'Les Sillons de la Terre' (1984), the fifth album of French avant-rock band Etron Fou Leloublan. Later he was in other bands such as Zeropop, Le Vaste Océan, Bruniferd and Ni Trêve, Ni Relâche, recorded duo albums with Toshimaru Nakamura (中村としまる) and Noël Akchoté, and a bunch of solo albums. Warburton meanwhile is a British expat in France and the man behind Paris Transatlantic webzine. He has written a lot of 'modern composition' pieces (won some prizes with those, too) and has recorded in the company of everyone from Tomas Korber to Nikos Veliotis (on his more abstract works), and from Arthur Doyle to his own band Return of the New Thing (on the jazzier end of the spectrum). These last few years he has been on stage a lot with Aki Onda (恩田晃) and Jac Berrocal. There was only one album by their duo project Cho (as in 蝶, 'butterfly'?). It was released on Meillier's SMI label (that stands for 'Saxophone & Musiques Innovatrices') in 2001 or perhaps rather 2002, not sure. Enjoy.
PS. My copy is a bit scarred on the cover by a price tag, so... so is your scan.


Le Masque - s/t (1995)

This is a follow-up post to the Cellerino album, and a special request. Enjoy, Claudette! (And everyone else of course). Not sure what happened to my cover scan, btw. It's not supposed to be that wavy. Oh well.


Azure Skies - Azure Skies (2001)

Azure Skies was a one-off collaboration of Jan Carleklev and Håkan Paulsson (both in Sanctum) and David and Samuel Durling of Mental Destruction. I don't know the latter band, but Sanctum's 'Lupus in Fabula' (1996) is definitely one of the better albums on Swedish industrial/ambient label Cold Meat Industry. Their brand of rhythmic noise with dramatic synths and some angry or melancholy vocals now and then rubs off on this project, on Ant-Zen.
The Sanctum guys also play in Mago, and Carleklev has a solo project named Parca Pace which I remember was pretty good. They are also in a number of other bands I haven't heard, as this is not really my 'field of expertise' or even major interest. But Sanctum and Azure Skies are potentially interesting to a (slightly) larger audience, I think. This is possibly what an industrial album made by the Neurosis guys would sound like. Maybe. You tell me.
(There are 3 different covers for this release, mine has some rocks on it.)


Rolf Julius - Für einen kleinen See (2003)

I was very sad to learn this morning that German sound & installation artist Rolf Julius has died, just a few days short of his 72nd birthday. His work dealt with what he labeled 'small music': tiny sounds conjured up from unlikely sources, from tea cups to insects, otherwise unnoticed or discarded, are magnified, looped and layered, played through small speakers, and juxtaposed with colours and objects in minimalist settings. Poetry drawn from the humblest material. I always thought his work connects in many ways with that of Steve Roden, and he seems to agree. Julius' passing is a great loss to the contemporary art world.
I got to know his work with this album, 'Für einen kleinen See' (which translates to 'For a Small Lake'), back in 2003 when it was released on Because Tomorrow Comes, a small, now defunct label from Cologne (Köln). A second volume of archival work is due out any day now on Western Vinyl. A flexi 7" was just attached to the latest issue of The Wire.


Mitsuhiro Yoshimura - And So On (2007)

And we're back with some hardcore Japanese electroacoustic improv of the most extreme kind - you're welcome! Mitsuhiro Yoshimura (吉村光弘) is from Kanagawa, and for a moment there in 2007-2008 seemed to be the new name to watch in onkyo scenes. Unfortunately, nothing much has been heard from him these last couple of years, but especially this first album is still revered among connoisseurs ("There are dozens of us! Dozens!!"). In these 3 works (11 to 16 minutes each), Yoshimura creates feedback with a microphone, a mixing board, an equalizer (which he does not touch during a performance) and a set of headphones to project the sound back into the room. Since movement in the room can influence the timbre and pitch of the feedback, Yoshimura can actually distance himself completely from his tools and let the music play itself. This description alone should be enough to send fans of Toshimaru Nakamura (中村としまる) and Sachiko M (she never uses her full name on her albums, but it's Sachiko Matsubara, 松原幸子) rushing for the download link, methinks. This debut was followed the same year by 'Not BGM And So On', which is a duo album with Taku Sugimoto (杉本拓), and in 2008 by 2 albums on brand new French label Presqu'île Records: a trio with, again, Sugimoto and field recording maestro Toshiya Tsunoda (角田俊也) ('Santa'), and a duo (entitled 'Trio') with alto sax explorer Masahiko Ōkura (大蔵雅彦). 

Edgardo Moia Cellerino - L'Amore Che Gira Il Mondo (2009)

I got to know Le Masque some 10 or 12 years ago, when I picked up a second-hand copy of their greatest-hits-featuring-unreleased-bonus-tracks 'Dal Diario di un Soffiatore di Vetro' (released in October 1998, subtitled 1984-1998) in a small Metal store for some reason. I can't for the life of me remember why; I had no idea what to expect, there were no indications whatsoever that I would like this, and the cover art is gruesome. Maybe the fact that it was on an Eibon Records sublabel (Fuoco), plus the fact that the shopkeeper, desperate to unload what was no doubt in his eyes an awful piece of crap, had put a ridiculously low price on it, was enough to win me over. Maybe it was merely because I was taking some Italian classes in those years, and wanted to practice a bit. Either way, as it turned out, this music was labeled 'Wave' (to this day I'm not sure what that means, exactly), but what I heard was a great singer-songwriter (also guitarist) with a beautiful, melancholy voice and very good lyrics, backed by some very able musicians on piano, synth, clarinet, sax, bass and percussion. Sure, some of it was quite schmaltzy, and it took a while to get used to the one or two tracks with very simple drum computer beats, but somehow I returned to that album obsessively for months, and translated some of the lyrics. The best tracks (some of them were live recordings with between-song banter) had something of a late-night smoky vocal-jazz club feel to me.
Over the years, I have played Le Masque's compilation album (along with a couple of other records of theirs I managed to pick up here and there) to quite a number of people, but haven't been able to gain them many new fans, I'm afraid. Most people were turned off by their supposed cheesiness, so you have been warned.
Le Masque was formed in 1979, in Milan, by Edgardo Moia Cellerino (voice, guitar) and Tiberio Boncristiano (percussion). They took their name from a Baudelaire poem and were inspired by British post-punk bands (I can't hear any of that in their music). In the beginning, the lyrics were in English (going by 'The Happy Flock', featured on that compilation, however, it may take you a while to recognize it as English); pretty soon, they switched to Italian. They released a number of albums over the years: 'The Happy Flock' (1984) 'Colloquio' (1986), 'Il Signor Gustavo Coscenza' (1990, on EMI; these first 3 are all mini-LPs really), 'La Memoria di Venere' (1991) and 'Le Masque' (1995); two more singles, 'Dandies' (1997) and 'Sai' (1999, released only in Greece?), and the compilation album mentioned above the next year; and finally another full-lenght, 'Gli Anni di Globiana' (2003). Some of the material in later years suffered in comparison with their earlier works, unfortunately, being poppier and catchier and less 'atmospheric' (whatever that means).
There was no more to be heard from Le Masque for many years until in November 2009 this album credited only to Cellerino appeared out of nowhere on the young Italian label Oltrelanebbiailmare. I don't know why it's suddenly his album, as this is again a greatest hits compilation, mostly, with tracks taken from all over the Le Masque discography. Only the title track and the Brel-cover are previously unreleased. I'm not sure if this means that Le Masque is no more; I'll just quote this from the press release:
"Edgardo has just got back during November from the prestigious Tenco Festival, a showcase dedicated to the most valid Italian singer-songwriters, where he received the SIAE/Club Tenco Prize as the best emerging author/songwriter with the following mention: "His lyrics are illuminated by all-consuming landscapes. His language is made of an almost embarassing extreme and refined elegance, and reminds the greatest Italian writers of the Twentieth Century, from Pavese to Buzzati. Nonetheless he defines himself just like "a polka-dot illustrator on clowns costumes". At the Tenco Festival he presented some of his songs in concert, including the new album title-track. For all the Le Masque aficionados and for all the lovers of Italian songwriting... This is a must!"

Here is the tracklist with year of publication (+ original album) of each song, and my own translations:
1. Le Donne (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('Women')
2. Marcel (from 'Le Masque', 1995)
3. Nostalghia (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('Nostalgia')
4. La Notte del 31 Dicembre 1999' (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('The Night of 31 December 1999')
5. La Ballerina Marta (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('Marta the Ballerina') (I'm starting to wonder if these translations were really necessary)
6. La Lunga Notte di Gianni (was an exclusive track on the compilation 'Dal Diario di un Soffiatore di Vetro' ('From the Diary of a Glass Blower'), 1998) ('The Long Night of Gianni [Versace]')
7. Sai (from the 'Sai' single, 1999) ('You Know')
8. Quando una Parola (from 'Gli Anni di Globiana' ('The Years of Globiana'), 2003) ('When a Word')
9. 'Non Andare Via' (new; a cover of Jacques Brel's 'Ne me quitte pas') ('Don't Go Away')
10. L'Amabile Assenza (from 'Gli Anni di Globiana', 2003) ('Pleasant Absence')
11. Il Trionfo del Bikini (from 'La Memoria di Venere' ('The Memory of Venus'), 1991)
12. Elsadora il Profumiere (from 'La Memoria di Venere', 1991) ('Elsadora the Perfumer')
13. Amore Bello Amore Stanco (from 'Sai', 1999) ('Beautiful Love Tired Love')
14. I Tartari (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('The Ta(r)tars')
15. L'Amore che Gira il Mondo (new) ('The Love that Makes the World Go Round')

Definitely not like much else you may have encountered on this blog, so buyer beware. The less cautious downloader may - you never know - have a similar sort of revelation to the one I had some 10 years ago. The rest can sit tight for some more blistering eai, coming up next ; ).