by Don Crispy
SonarSound Tokyo 2004
Barcelona's bellwether electronica fest brings
its franchise to Tokyo.
|SKETCH SHOW + RYUICHI
SAKAMOTO = Human Audio Sponge
(Visual: RYOICHI KUROKAWA)
Part music festival, part industry convention, Barcelona's
Sonar has in recent years established itself as the serious
alternative to the hedonism of the Ibiza summer season or
Miami's Winter Music Conference.
Held in June this year in Barcelona, the event emphasizes
the more thoughtful side of electronica. Not that there weren't
plenty of hands in the air at its massive all-night dos in
the Olympic Stadium. But in its artist lineup, noticeably
lacking in superstar prog-house DJs, its emphasis on multimedia,
and its daytime networking sessions, Sonar is about more than
E 'n' glee.
SonarSound Tokyo was first held in Tokyo at Roppongi Hills
in 2002. This year, following a September Sonar in Sao Paulo,
the festival returns to Japan with what seems like a broader
lineup and better organization, arriving in concert with the
annual Tokyo Designers Block.
Also timed to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Ebisu
Garden Hall this weekend, the event's big draw will
undoubtedly be a covert reunion of the pivotal '80s
elepop trio Yellow Magic Orchestra. While billed as Sketch
Show + Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sketch Show in fact consists of Haruomi
Hosono and Yukihiro Takehashi, Sakamoto's partners
in YMO. The pair's 2003 Loophole album had already
seen some collaboration between the three, so the upcoming
live reunion comes as a welcome fulfillment of that promise.
SonarSound's lineup also includes a number of other
familiar faces. Detroit techno innovator Jeff Mills, currently
in Tokyo for a month-long residency at Womb, is on the bill
with an intriguing program. Recently plumbing the depths of
the possible in audio-visual collaboration, Mills will be
presenting live original music to Buster Keaton's 1923
silent film classic The Three Ages. Also for the techno faithful,
early innovators Juan Atkins and Carl Craig will be facing
off in a dual DJ set.
A slew of other Japanese electronica heavyweights are on the
bill, ranging from veterans to emerging acts. Best-known as
the impish sampling and sequencing talent behind '90s
dance-pop act Deee-Lite, Japanese-born Korean DJ/producer
Towa Tei has carved out a niche for himself since returning
to Japan with a series of discs that defy categorization by
juxtaposing anything from drum'n'bass, ambient
and click house against kitschy pop. Tei has also been known
to resurface occasionally at Tokyo clubs for old-school DJ
workouts that recall his days in New York.
Hifana, meanwhile, are an amped-up young duo of experimental
hip-hop producers who put on one of the strongest sets at
last summer's Fuji Rock Festival, wowing the crowd
with their athleticism and ability to trade off on a battery
of samplers and effects without losing the beat.
With over thirty acts on the bill over two days guaranteeing
plenty of music, SonarSound also presents other diversions.
For gear heads who wish to get a peek at the latest offerings
from Japanese brands like Roland and Technics, which manufacture
much of the equipment with which electronic music is made,
SonarSound will feature a technology showcase. And for the
merely curious who don't want to pay the hefty ticket
price to get inside, SonarSound Extra presents multimedia
art installations and live performances at Garden Place's
Meanwhile, veteran Tokyo-based American house DJ Patrick and
his partner in crime, Tozawa, will be celebrating the release
of their recent debut CD Disko Killaz with a blowout at Roppongi
glitz palace Velfarre this Monday. Patrick and Tozawa will
be spinning together strands of old and new school house from
behind the decks, while a live set is in the cards from percussionist
SonarSound @Ebisu Garden Hall, Oct
9-10. Disko Killaz CD Release Party@Velfarre, Oct 11. See
listings for details.
credit: ©TOWER RECORDS NO MUSIC, NO LIFE..
Photo by Hirama Itaru