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776: Yoko Ono
775: Boredoms
772: Kurofunedan
768: Merzbow
766: Oshiripenpenz
765: YMCK
763: Shizuka Kudo
762: Mo’some Tonebender
761: Soil & “Pimp” Sessions
756: Tokyo Conflux 2008
754: Ed Woods
753: 8otto
751: Para
750: Fuji Rock Festival 2008
748: Katan Hiviya
745: Who the Bitch
742: Low IQ 01
740: Shake Forward!
738: iLL
736: Tobu Ongakusai
733: Yanokami
731: One Night in Naha
729: Shugo Tokumaru
727: Japan Nite
725: Getting out the vote
723: J-Melo
721: Electric Eel Shock
717: GO!GO!7188
715: Yura Yura Teikoku
712: Midori
710: Seigen Ono
708: Wrench
707: Shinichi Osawa
704: M-flo
701: Freesscape
699: Versailles
698: Fuji Rock Festival 2007
697: Uri Nakayama
695: UA
693: Shonen Knife
690: Kemuri
689: Ikochi
686: Best Japanese Albums
684: Monkey Majik
682: Shibusashirazu Orchestra
681: Jon Lynch and Juice magazine
677: DJ Kentaro
675: Sadistic Mikaela Band
673: Osaka Monaurail
672: Teriyaki Boyz featuring Kanye West
666: Oki
662: Amanojaku
659: Polysics
657: Oceanlane
655: Cornelius
651: Bomb Factory
642: Soul Flower Mononoke Summit
640: African JAG
637: Buffalo Daughter
635: Ryukyu Underground
633: Mazri no Matsuri
631: Mono
629: Coldfeet
628: Crystal Kay
625: J-pop goes def
623: Ken Yokoyama
621: Zazen Boys
619: Monday Michiru
613: PE’Z
611: Afrirampo
609: Sherbets
603: Double Famous
601: Meltone
599: Michiyo Yagi
597: Hifana
594: Guitar Wolf
592: Rip Slyme
590: Little Creatures
588: Bliss Out on Hougaku
586: Hoppy Kamiyama
584: Bliss Out on Hougaku
582: Mazri no Matsuri
580: Mari Natsuki
575: Towa Tei
573: The Beautiful Losers
571: Fantastic Plastic Machine
569: Nippop
567: Brahman
560: Shonen Knife
558: Nice Guy Jin
556: Toru Yonaha and Kinohachi
554: Hiromi Uehara
551: Nicotine
549: Ego-Wrappin'
545: Eastern Youth
538: Inside tracks
536: Outside the Box
534: Rainbow Warrior
529: Breaking the mold
527: Sadao China
524: The sound of cyberpunk
522: Ryuichi Sakamoto's Chasm
516: Ken Yokoyama
514: Jan Linton
512: Jazz messengers
509/10: Naoko Terai
507: Akiko Yano
504: Kotaro Oshio: Solo Strings
502: Refurbished rhythms
494: Resonance
492: cyber-swordsmen
490: Loop Junktion
488: Ryukyu Underground: Okinawan Odyssey
484: Gocoo: Reinventing taiko
481: Leonard Eto
479: Gaijin à Go-Go
477: Enemy music
475: Yoriko Ganeko with Chuei Yoshikawa
472: DJ Kaori
469: Yuki
467: Wrench
464: Young and swingin
462: Jazzy Live 2003 from Blue Breath
460: Shonen Knife
457/458: Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden
456: Yuka Kamebuchi & The Voices of Japan
454: Jude
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451: BBQ Chickens
449: Man and the machinery
446: Crystal Kay
443: Lava
440: Jazz on Leave
437: Rip Slyme
434: Boom Boom Satellites
432: "Rambling" Steve Gardner
430: Dry & Heavy
428: The Birth of OE
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416: Kick The Can Crew
414: King Brothers
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410: Japanese Independent Music
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406: Love Psychedelico
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391: Shelter 10th Anniversary
389: The beautiful losers
387: Junpei Shiina
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381: P'ez
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375: Dreams Come True
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368: Dub Squad
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364: Phew Phew L!ve
362: Fumio Yasuda
360: Boom Boom Satellites
358: Kei Kobayashi
356: Cool Drive Makers
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345: Misia
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341: Puffy
339: Ryukyu Festival 2000
337: Rappagariya
335: Lisa Ono
333: Air Jam 2000
331: Feed
327: Tenkoo Orchestra
325: Wrench
323: Sadao Watanabe
321: Dry & Heavy
319: Bonny Pink
317: Sakura Hills Disco 3000
315: Aco
313: Rovo
311: The Mad Capsule Markets
309: Coldfeet

Man and the Machinery

Japan's techno ambassador at-large Ken Ishii tells Metropolis why he's getting back to the basics of dance music.


It's been over a year since we last talked. What have you been up to?
Working hard and traveling quite a bit. I visited over 50 cities in Europe, South America and Asia. Also, I've been writing my new album when I've been back in Japan.


What stood out in your touring?
I did Brazil again, Rio and Sao Paulo. My music isn't released in South America, and I'd never done any interviews there, but there were still good crowds. Also, I went to Finland for the first time this year, and the scene there is quite new and the press attention was huge. It's interesting to play new places and see how the crowds react, and it affected my music quite a lot. I realized over the last two years how strong basic techno still is. The simple beat still works.


Did that affect your approach to the new album?
Exactly. With the last album, I was challenging new styles of dance music. But looking back over the last two years, the dance community has not been so receptive. Playing in new territories I see more and more how strong techno is, and how basic techno can still expand its frontiers. That encouraged me in a good way to make a straightforward dance album. Actually, this is the first time I have done a straightforward, one hundred percent dance album.


What did you have in mind with the title Future In Light?
I feel very happy with what I've been doing, and I've been feeling very positive towards my career, so I wanted to make something simple because my feelings are quite simple now, in a positive way.


You've also started a new label with the album?
This is the first release from 70 Drums. I debuted in '93, so in the last decade I've been learning about the music business. I felt that now was the time for me to set up my own thing. I was signed to Sony for just one album, while all the other previous albums were on R&S, a regional Belgian label. My relationship with R&S had finished, and the relationship between R&S and Sony had also ended, so it was a good time to start something new.


How has going independent affected the making of your new album, now that you don't have Sony throwing money at you?
Actually, I didn't get much money from Sony. All the royalties came from R&S. Sony just spent their money on promotion. The biggest difference is that I have no deadline now. I feel very free-no rules, no deadlines-so this album was very natural for me.


I will also be interviewing Jeff Mills today (see After Dark) in relation to his residency at Luners. Do you have any words for Jeff?
We're playing together on the 31st of this month. This will be the second time. The last time was in July in Utrecht, Holland. It was a very nice night. The place was a proper club and Jeff and I played not just banging stuff but more adult sounds, so I'm looking forward to playing with him because I think it is going to be a bit more experimental night but still based in techno in a good way. A sample copy of Jeff's new album [At First Sight] came to me, and the record company asked me to write some promotional copy. I felt that the album had old Detroit elements, so I thought that we are thinking the same way. Probably our aims are similar.


I get the impression Detroit techno is more popular in Europe and Japan than in the US....
In general, younger crowds prefer harder stuff, while older crowds prefer funkier stuff. In the last few years trance has become big everywhere and provided a good chance for a younger crowd to come into the scene. And probably those younger kids are now tired of the same trance music and are getting interested in real techno. One example would be Detroit techno.


How do you find the Tokyo scene as compared to Osaka or other cities in Japan?
I play the big five cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka. They are basically similar because Japan is a mono-directed country. Culturally, everyone looks to Tokyo. But in local cities, you might want to play harder, more direct music. Some people say the scene in Tokyo is going down, but I think it's OK. Local cities however, are going down more and more over the last five years. Five years ago a lot of Tokyo DJs traveled to local cities, but not so much any more.


So deflation is affecting the club business?
In a big way. I'm still waiting for it to bounce back.


You've been quite successful internationally. Do you find it difficult to stay connected with the underground?
Personally I don't think so, but people may think like that. Some fans might think Ken Ishii is commercial, but I can maintain an underground aspect. Some of the stuff I do might be more commercial, while some might be experimental. I don't care about it but some may.


You've been in the club world for ten years now. Do you still go out?
Yes. Compared to ten years ago it's better: wider choice, greater frequency of international DJs, and homegrown DJs have gotten much better. We have some negative points-more shitty records-but in general I think it's better.


Are there any clubs or parties you find interesting?
I still go to Maniac Love because Wada and Yama are there every week. The place is the easiest for me to go. I also like Womb and play there quite often. But maybe I need more time to find good clubs in Tokyo.


Will you still be DJing when you're 50?
Maybe once in a while, but not regularly. I will not be young, and sometimes my throat gets damaged from the bad air in clubs, or sometimes I catch a cold. So for physical reasons I may have to stop.

Future In Light is released October 30 on 70 Drums/Music Mine. Ken Ishii DJs at Luners with Jeff Mills on October 31. See After Dark for details.

credit: Music Mine