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by Don Crispy

Outdoor bliss

Last year's Rolling Thunder on Sado Island

This year's yagai reibu (outdoor rave) season reaches critical mass next weekend with parties by two of the Japanese dance community's veteran organizers.

Launching first is Anoyo's Rolling Thunder, which gets underway Friday afternoon on far-flung Sado Island in the Sea of Japan. The longest survivor of the current trance party organizers, Anoyo (bliss or afterworld in Japanese) was founded in 1997 by Takashi Shiraki and Misao Ishida on the edge of the first trance boom. Famous for its seminal parties on Niijima Island, Anoyo started Rolling Thunder on Sado last year at a site on the northernmost tip of the island, Futatsugame, so called for two massive rocks that resemble turtles.

The site allows for stunning views of sunset and sunrise and, providing the weather is better than last year's deluge, should offer an expansive setting for the all-star lineup of mostly Japanese DJs and live acts. The top of any trance bill is the enduring Tsuyoshi, who spearheaded the trance boom in Japan after imbibing its sounds (and associated mind-altering substances) in Goa and London in the early '90s. Tsuyoshi will also be performing with his live techno unit Joujouka.

Also in the lineup are Wrench, a band that mixes sequenced techno with elements of digital hardcore and punk, downtempo unit Numb, ambient DJ Hideyo (known as the force behind Bullets and now in charge of the chill room at Ageha), and Space Shower VJ Bryan Burton-Lewis in his madcap DJ incarnation...

The Japanese techno DJs who aren't on Sado, meanwhile, will likely be found on the slopes of Mount Fuji, where veteran techno honey, DJ/organizer Mayuri holds her annual Metamorphose party starting Saturday.

With less of a trance bent and more of a focus on diverse forms of dance music, Metamorphose has in recent years settled into a site at the quirky old Nihon Land How amusement park (site of the early Rainbow 2000 parties), high up the flanks of Japan's spiritual if sullied mountain.

This year's event takes no chances, with repeat visits by some of the better-received recent acts, including outrageous Chicago house iconoclast Green Velvet, veteran New York hard techno spinner Joey Beltram, and Detroiter Suburban Knight, as well as UK provocateurs Subhead, Si Begg and Jamie Liddel.

In addition to the overseas talent, Metamorphose also boasts a range of homegrown acts that point to the diversity of Japanese electronica and experimental music. The Boredoms (in their Voordoms incarnation) and Merzbow are renowned noisemeisters, while Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden's blend of free jazz and electro is unique. The Boom Boom Satellites and Dub Squad pull off convincing live interpretations of breakbeat, while Kaoru Inoue and Alex from Tokyo are tasteful house collage-ists. For those into downtempo and experimental hip-hop, DJs Kensei and Klock will be on hand...

Finally, this just in: American breakbeat/deep house DJ John Kelley, a force behind LA's seminal Moontribe parties of the early '90s, will be a special guest at the hardworking DJ Kensei's Nuetral party on Friday at Nuts in Shibuya. The special extended edition of the party will run late into the morning, and will also feature chill-out sets produced by Tokyo-based breakbeat/dub label Play Records.

Rolling Thunder@Futatsugame, 8/22, 3pm to 8/24, 11am, ¥7,800 (adv), ¥9,000 (door). Tel: Anoyona 03-3462-1993. www.anoyo.net

Metamorphose@Nihon Land How, 8/23, 4pm to 8/24, 11am, ¥8,500 (adv), ¥10,000 (door). Info: Metamorphose 03-3499-3291. www.metamo.info

Nuetral@Nuts, 8/22, 11pm, ¥3,000. Tel: 03-5466-8814.

photo credit: Anoyo