After Dark: Norma Jean Bell
By Don Crispy
One of a number of women finally bursting out of the "house diva"
box and coming into their own as DJ/producers will be bringing her act
to Yellow. From a different end of the spectrum but the same city, meanwhile,
Detroit techno marvel Juan Atkins touches down at Air.
A saxophonist, singer and producer, Norma Jean Bell was once a member
of Frank Zappa's touring band, but in the '90s reincarnated
herself in the dance world. Founding her own Pandemonium label in 1996,
she also penned a dance-floor anthem with "I'm the Baddest
Bitch" the same year.
Bell's breakthrough solo LP, Come Into My Room, appeared last year
on the UK's Peacefrog label, garnering kudos for its simmering
house and Bell's own fluent saxophone work. She also showed the
breadth of her experience, with nods to jazz legend John Coltrane, funk,
disco and pop.
At Yellow, Bell will be performing live with a band that includes Tommy
Onyx (keyboards, programming, vocals), and Jared Sykes (congas). Warming
up the house on the decks will be Tokyo denizens DJs Alex, Yoku, and Ageishi
Another dance music veteran from Detroit is Juan Atkins, one of the legendary
"Belleville Three." Atkins is currently touring Japan, and
will be at the spare yet spacious new venue Air in trendy Daikanyama in
a bill that matches him with one of the founders of Japanese techno, Ken
Along with fellow Detroit techno figures Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson,
Atkins attended Belleville Junior High School in the late '70s.
The three began experimenting with keyboards, cassette decks and synthesizers,
fusing the techno-futurism of Kraftwerk with the cosmic funk of bands
The resulting style, later called Detroit techno, was key to the UK's
acid house revolution of the late '80s, the later trance movement,
and to the sounds of Japanese techno stars like Ishii himself.
Atkins has been an occasional visitor to Japan in recent years and has
also issued a stream of recordings, including Mind and Body on R&S
in 1999, and last year's retrospective Legends, Vol. 1 on OM.
Ishii has been busy himself, touring the world under his own name and
also releasing tracks for key Japanese label Sublime under his alter-ego,
FLR, the most recent being contributions to this month's latest
in the Reel Up party/CD series.
Norma Jean Bell@Yellow, 6/1, 10pm, ¥4,000.
Tel: 3479-0690. www.club-yellow.com
Juan Atkins@Air, 6/8, 10pm, ¥3,000 (adv),
¥3,500 (door). Tel: 5784-3386. www.air-tokyo.com