Archive for the 'Japanese Video' Category

PiKAPiKA the Movie

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

“Pika Pika” is a Japanese onomatopoeia with a meaning akin to that of our twinkle, sparkle, or glitter. It has come to be used as a term for a memetic movement of “light doodles” which are spreading around the internet. These are created by using a flashlight or led lightsource to draw images in the air, the trails of which become a single image in long-exposure photographs, and then turning a sequence of these images into an animation.

The Pikapika project started by Tochka, a Japanese creative group, has now collaborated with the Japanese internet company So-Net to create the light-doodle-animation extravaganza that is “PiKA PiKA the Movie”.

The project’s blog on So-Net has quite a few different pikapika videos, including some behind the scenes footage. It’s interesting to see how the seemingly random flashlight wavings of a bunch of people wandering around turns into complex and charming collaborative animations.

Far France – Addict

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

9mm Parabellum Bullet, Ogre You Asshole, Nhhmbase, Toddle – Japan’s indie rock resurgence continues with the likes of Far France, a quartet of twenty year olds from Tokyo who possess a level of talent far beyond their age.

I was one of those people that broke down upon hearing the news of Number Girl disbanding. And despite some of the great bands that have arisen out of Number Girl’s ashes – Zazen Boys, Vola and The Oriental Machine, Toddle, Sloth Love Chunks – there exists a void that has yet to be filled.

Enter Far France.

Well not quite. But Mukai and company did seem to have a left an impressionable mark on these talented young musicians.

The Japanese rock music cognoscenti have yet to take notice of Far France, which is expected, their debut mini album was only released last week. Don’t be surprised though when you see Far France on a bunch of “best of 2008” lists.

Dir en Grey – Dozing Green (for Halloween)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Artist: Dir en Grey
Song: Dozing Green
From album: Dozing Green
[Buy CD][Website]

I saw this video recently and found it appropriate for the Halloween season as apparently did they, choosing late October for the single‘s release.

This is one of the bands one finds everywhere when one first starts investigating Japanese music, along with a host of other familiar names, most of which fall into the genre of Visual Kei (VK), and most of which you will probably never find on this site. Though on principle I hold nothing against VK, it is in general a genre more about fashion and presence and showmanship than creativity in music. In particular the singing style is very recognizable, and sometimes nearly identical between bands.

That said, I can still appreciate an occasional morsel of Dir en Grey on a couple of levels. They have a certain subset of songs that can stand on their own merits for me, with enjoyably intense building and breaking vocal melodies. Their music videos are almost always visually interesting, controversial, and bizarre. And though most of the disturbed shock aesthetic in the genre seems to be rather transparent, Dir en Grey’s widely revered frontman Kyo is indisputably a pioneer in that vein and is apparently far more serious about it than most. An observation that is supported by many accounts (like Ian’s) of their live shows.

Mono – The Sky Remains The Same As Ever

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Clip: Lost Snow @ Brussels, Belgium.

Given their enthralling live shows, it wouldn’t take much to make a great tour DVD for Japanese post-rock band Mono. All that would be required is a camera, a tripod and the ability to press record. As anyone who’s seen one of their shows can attest, Mono is one of the most dynamic and expressive live acts in rock music today. The band could just compile a bunch of fan made Youtube clips for the DVD and it would still be worthwhile.

But Mono decided to give us something very special instead; a beautifully shot tour documentary called The Sky Remains The Same As Ever, put together by talented music photographer Teppei Kishida. Having followed the band for over two months and coming out with 100 tapes of footage to edit with, Kishida was able to capture the spirit of Mono in its entirety and give us a truly poetic film about the band.

The live performances on the DVD are incredible. The movement of the camera and the close-up framing perfectly mimics the emotional range and intimacy of a Mono show; it’s almost like the camera is engaged in a dance with the music; crashing when it’s loud, soaring and sweeping when it’s soft. Watching this on a large screen and a good sound system is as cathartic as standing 5 feet away from the band during their show.

Kishida has a great eye for detail. He frequently turns the camera to the crowd and observes their reactions. We often see individuals immersing themselves in the music by closing their eyes, couples embracing, intense gazes, tapping of the fingers, headbanging, screaming. These little moments tell you more about the band than any review or bio could possibly accomplish.

Interspersed between the live performances are montages of sightseeing, traveling across the world, interviews and recording. Part of what makes Mono the band that they are, is the underground culture that surrounds them, and these montages do great justice in portraying the spirit of that culture.

The DVD is already released in Japan on Mono’s own label, Human Highway Records, and will be released stateside in 2008 on Temporary Residence. Since the band is perpetually touring the world (currently in the US), you can also buy the DVD at their merchandise table during one of their shows and probably get Tamaki to sign it while she’s selling it to you. Check their myspace for touring dates and to view the trailer for the DVD.

Two Spirals – More Ferrofluid

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Nicely synchronized ferrofluid manipulation and music. A soothing liquid world of gently bedaggered monoliths.

[Link][Previous ferrofluid]

Uri Gagarn – Resistor

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Artist: Uri Gagarn
Song: Resistor
From album: ? ? (no title)
Genre: Minimal Indie Impression Conduit
[Buy CD][Website]

To me this song, and to some extent the video, sounds like it was made underground; like it’s the bubbling internal conflict of a man imprisoned in solitary confinement with only trace elements of hope and a burning regret or uncertainty.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be in solitary confinement. We spend so much time scrambling for survival, to learn to work in order to make money to eat in order to stay alive in order to go to work again. In all this seemingly meaningful (pre)occupation we don’t have much time to think and ponder meaningfully. Our thinking comes in short bursts like automatic weapons, rarely in long trains of thought slowly meandering through the hills. I am tempted to think that it wouldn’t be so bad to have everyday to meditate on ideas, to think things through completely from every angle, in a sense to really know what I think.

Of course, for most people that end up in solitary confinement involuntarily there will be an element of internal conflict that could turn the time into torture. With no external input, no external answers, one can only look to oneself to find or create a meaning for things.

This song sounds like that to me: a struggle of the mind longing to find within itself an answer for things outside of it, and a reason for its place among them.

Hikaru Tanimoto – Thanks to Music!!

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Artist: Hikaru Tanimoto ?????
Song: Thanks to Music!!
From album: Thanks to Music!!
Genre: Guitaristry
[Buy CD][Website]

This Hikaru Tanimoto fellow seems to be riding his song like a furry dog-dragon thing à la The Neverending Story (It’s the innocent glee and over-excitement that evokes the comparison.). He seems almost too joyful and excited to be playing it himself; yet, empirical evidence suggests that he really is.

At first it’s hard to believe that all the sounds are coming from one kid and one guitar. You hear it pouring out in thick layers like cake-batter, and he’s upending the bowl, licking his lips. He seems giddy with almost surprised love for each note that appears as he flys by them. It’s a joy so devoid of self-consciousness, a delight, not in the fact that he plays music, but in the idea that music itself exists.

I thought it refreshing.

Rocket K – Super Drunken Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Artist: Rocket K
Song: Super Drunken Christmas
Genre: PunkDistortion
[Buy CD][Website]

I’m going to post this in the past so that it seems more date-appropriate, better late than never eh.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday and new year and all that. Mine was good, though busy and probably not super drunken enough… ah well.

So I searched my library for something season-esque and this is what I came up with. It’s Rocket K, it’s super distorted, super drunken, and probably somewhat super Christmas in its own way.