My knowledge of Japanese Culture is about three days deep. That’s the amount of time that I spent in Tokyo a few years ago as an (accidental) VIP guest of the Tokyo University. I developed a great respect for the way that Japan handles the tension between Traditional and Modern Cultures. They coexist and complement one another, standing as an example younger cultures would be wise to consider.
Tokyo Dreams Yoshira Jinja by BC#9 captures the colors and the spirit of one such merging of the old and new; in a lushly filmed street scene of a ceremonial parade through, what I assume is, the Yoshira district of Tokyo. The rich colors and soft lighting engage us visually as the music pushes us through streets alive with modern revelry viewed through a storied historical
This is a contemplative soundtrack to a street celebration that, if witnessed firsthand, would be a riot of drums and traditional Japanese instruments. We are the foreign passerby, left to process the memory in our own cultural medium. A western soundtrack to a uniquely Japanese event.
The song dawns slowly, then we are moving along with the up tempo drum and bass, swaying side to side as we soak in the exotic sights and sounds. Then we take a moment to stop and think about what we just saw, as the solid foundation of the song makes way for jangly, meditative keyboard interludes. This is our chance to take a breath and process all
that we’ve seen and heard.
The song builds and releases along a sine curve built on traditional synth chords that move us forward and high key piano notes that punctuate the thoughtful interludes that make up the trough of the curve. The architecture of the song allows us plenty of space to place ourselves in the soundscape, as the video landscape unfolds before us.
The second half of the song, “side 2,” changes gears a bit, as it introduces some new elements that play off and intermix with the previous melodies. A bit further into “side 2,” the two initial components of Yoshiwara Jinja join together. The high notes, mixed slightly lower, play off the main beat in sustained half-note tones that throw in an occasional ,cloying , almost haphazard sharp or flat, that sneaks up beside us, quietly insisting on our complete attention. This is the climax of the song, where we join the cerebral and the physical, heading towards the conclusion of the ceremony, the song and the moment.
Published on Oct 6, 2016
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This summer, Boiler Room & Native Instruments took Kode9 to Tokyo to explore the full spectrum of Japanese bass culture. As a pioneer who has spent the last decade at the frontline of heavyweight club sonics (and a Japanophile, to boot), there were few better fitted to be at the centre of this exchange. "Tokyo Bass" is a short film that documents the experience, featuring a number of important voices in Tokyo's club underground. A project that hoped to reach across the aisles, it touches on everything from the traditions of early Japanese drum culture to the futurist footwork of modern Tokyo.
Above all, the central focal point of the film is Kode9's introduction to the ancient discipline of taiko: the enormous tree-hollowed drums used in Japanese culture for thousands of years. Originally used as fearful instruments in the theatre of war, it's only in the last half-decade that they've been used for performance. As an academic in sonic warfare and the theoretics of bass, Kode9 was our ideal candidate to tackle their cultural magnitude. Over the course of a few days, he set out sampling various taiko and took them into the studio with Osaka-based footwork producer DJ Fulltono.
To listen to their collaboration, head here: blrrm.tv/kode9-fulltono
To find out more about Tokyo Bass, head over here: blrrm.tv/tokyobass
Music in order of appearance:
ENA "Intro" | 7even Recordings 
ENA "Community Space" | 7even Recordings 
ENA "City Lights" | Samurai Horo 
ENA "Realization" | 7even Recordings 
ENA "86 Loop" | 7even Recordings 
Kode9 "Ping" | Rephlex 
Foodman "Mori He Go" | Self-released 
Wata Igarashi "Far Away" | Unreleased 
Tokyo Dreams out now on iTunes and Apple Music. Buy link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tokyo-dream-single/id1117294064
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