by Don Crispy
|Extremes of electronica:
X-Press 2 (pictured) and Squarepusher visit Tokyo next
From the playful and buoyant to the aggressively
experimental, next weekend will provide a look at opposing
ends of the UK dance music spectrum.
First up are British house trio X-Press 2, who hit Air in
Daikanyama for their first Japanese set since appearances
at Fuji Rock and Electraglide.
Formed by former Soho record store manager Ashley Breedle
(aka Black Science Orchestra), with DJ Diesel and DJ Rocky
(aka Problem Kids), the threesome entered electronica in 1993
with the demented sirens and dance floor pyrotechnics of the
worldwide hit, Muzik Express, quickly followed
by a string of singles that found their way at the time to
the decks of influential DJs from Pete Tong to Junior Vasquez.
Putting aside the X-Press 2 moniker during the mid-90s
for a stint as post-acid house unit the Ballistic Brothers,
the three returned to the simple, uncluttered house they do
best in the beginning of the millennium. The outcome was their
2002 album, Muzikizum (Skint/Columbia).
The disc included the effervescent Lazy, their
biggest track yetnot only for X-Press 2, but oddly enough
also for the singer, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.
Interestingly, the collaboration came about when Byrne asked
the three, then working as the Ballistic Brothers, to back
him on a European tour. The contradiction of Byrne singing
casually over a thumping house beat ultimately went on to
make Lazy one of the most memorable dance tracks
to be heard so far this decade.
In their Japan appearances, X-Press 2 have also shown themselves
to be masters of the decks, employing a three-turntable attack
that leaves plenty of room for maneuver. Its like
a jam, really. Its not rehearsed. Were inspired
continually by the shenanigans on the dance floor, says
Rocky on their website. We play two records each and
we go round like a tag thing. Whoevers playing the tune
coming out of the speakers, the other two can cut in effects,
beats, a cappellas. It becomes like a wall of sound
If X-Press 2 represent the more accessible side of UK dance
music, then Tom Jenkinson in his Squarepusher persona represents
UK electronica at its most uncompromising.
Squarepusher, who brings his new album Ultravisitorreleased
on Warp and distributed in Japan by Beat Recordsto Roppongis
Laforet Museum, has positioned himself firmly in the avant-garde
of electronica since releasing his acclaimed Music Is Rotted
One Note in 1999.
Variously termed experimental jungle or drillnbass,
Squarepushers music operates on the outer extremes of
electronica, where the mechanics of dance music collide with
the esthetics and theory of free jazz and experimental music.
Previous appearances at Fuji Rock have not shown his live
sets to be of the wave-your-hands-in-the-air sort, but for
those with the stomach, his music has an impressive complexity.
In its 80 minutes, Ultravisitor, for example, runs from crazed
drumnbass to ambient, from to minimalist drums
to absurdist spoken word.
And if Squarepushers sonic experiments arent enough,
Beat Records sister company, promoter Beatink is pairing him
with two other veteran Warp acts, Luke Vibert and Jamie Lidell,
themselves both notorious for pushing the dance music envelope
to the breaking point.
X-Press 2@Air, 5/15, 10pm, ¥3,500.
Squarepusher@Laforet Museum, 5/15, 10pm, ¥5,800 (adv).
Info: Beatink 03-5766-6571.