Home
Feature
The Small Print
Faces & Places
The Goods
Travel
Tech Know
Sports
Cars & Bikes
Arts & Entertainment
Music
Japan Beat
Clubbing
Art
Stage
Books
The Agenda
Listings
TV
Movies
Dining Out
Sake
Wine
Tastemaker
Table Talk
Local Flavors
International Dining
Restaurant Review
Bar Review
Classifieds
Jobfinder
Horoscope
Mailbox
The Last Word
Photo of the Week
Archive
About Us
Subscribe
Search
Distribution Points




bar news and views
bar news and views
bar news and views
 LIVE CONCERTS

Popular
Jazz/World
Classical


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: Samurai.fm: 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
452: Kokoo
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
426: Anmitsu
424: Happy Kamiyam
422: Shing02
420: Supercar
418: Ryuichi Sakamoto
416: Kick The Can Crew
414: King Brothers
412: Kazufumi Miyazawa
410: Japanese Independent Music
408: The Yoshida Brothers
406: Love Psychedelico
393: Mikidozan
391: Shelter 10th Anniversary
389: The beautiful losers
387: Junpei Shiina
383: Umekuichi
381: P'ez
379: Boredoms
377: Dai Sakakibara
375: Dreams Come True
373: eX-Girl
370: Pizzicato Five
368: Dub Squad
366: Buffalo Daughter
364: Phew Phew L!ve
362: Fumio Yasuda
360: Boom Boom Satellites
358: Kei Kobayashi
356: Cool Drive Makers
354: Bird
351: United Future Organization
349: Audio Active
347: Ondekoza
345: Misia
343: Brahman
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

By Dan Grunebaum

Fantastic Plastic Machine

Tomoyuki Tanaka explores the thematic possibilities of a DJ mix compilation in his Sound Concierge series

Courtesy of Air

Ever since the rise of the DJ as superstar a decade or so ago, record companies have been shoveling an endless stream of mix compilation albums at consumers. Mix comps not only allow labels to capitalize quickly on a DJ’s fame without funding time-consuming new productions, they’re an easy way for labels to squeeze a bit of extra revenue out of back catalogs. Most of them, sadly, are forgettable.

Tomoyuki Tanaka, the burly, bearded artist behind the Fantastic Plastic Machine moniker, leans forward in a retro-modern chair at his studio in trendy Daikanyama to explain how he went about doing something that would stand out among the stream of DJ mix comps.
“I wanted to put together a different kind of mix, and just so happened to arrive at the Sound Concierge concept,” he explains about his new series’ germination last year. “As you know, a concierge is someone who assists patrons at a hotel.” Tanaka says he approaches DJing as a service industry: Listeners are customers, and the customer is king.

“I wanted to do something that would conjure a certain situation,” he continues. “Rather than compiling my own favorites, I wanted to do something thematic. It may seem like a natural idea, but I don’t think anyone had done it yet in Japan. Themes create their own logic. For example, a mix based on the theme of sex immediately creates various possibilities.”

Launched last year with Sound Concierge #401 “Do Not Disturb” and followed by three more releases in 2004, the series picks up where it left off with Sound Concierge #501 “Blanket,” and the associated Sound Concierge Annex “Contemporary Love Songs,” both out this week on major Japanese label Avex.

As its name implies, “Blanket” establishes a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. The selection is indicative of Tanaka’s vast record collection, which lines the walls of his studio lounge. Artists included among the 20 tracks range from obscure ’60s soft-rock act Bunky and Jake to French heartthrob Benjamin Biolay to Brazilian guitarist Sebastiao Tapajos to mellower tracks by more familiar names like Todd Rundgren and Ryuichi Sakamoto. “Just about any guy will at some point in his life have put together a tape of his favorite songs for a favorite girl,” Tanaka explains. “I put together “Blanket” with this sort of idea in mind.”

“Contemporary Love Songs,” meanwhile, is a bit of a vanity project. Consisting exclusively of FPM remix work, the album adopts more of a dance music approach, including remixes of James Brown’s “Sex Machine” and Chic’s “Le Freak.” “When you remix something you make it your own,” says Tanaka. “When I remix tracks I tend to give them a romantic vibe, and I put ‘Contemporary Love Songs’ together with this in mind. They’re almost all love songs. I tend to be a romantic myself and I think it shows in the album.”

Sales figures in the 2,000-3,000 range constitute a respectable showing for a Japanese DJ mix compilation. Each of FPM’s Sound Concierge discs has sold over 20,000, making them bona-fide hits and testifying to the appeal of his thematic approach.
While many DJs here eagerly await the latest vinyl pressings from New York or London, Tanaka approaches his craft more like a historian of pop music’s near-history. He first got into DJing in the early ’90s in his hometown of Kyoto by launching a club event, Sound Impossible, devoted to kitschy soundtrack music from the ’60s.

“At that time, rare groove was happening in London, and there were DJs playing exclusively old stuff, but there wasn’t anyone doing soundtracks,” Tanaka recalls. “From there one thing led to another. I got to know artists from Tokyo, and they encouraged me to record. That’s why I started Fantastic Plastic Machine. I wanted to do something that couldn’t be heard in clubs or wasn’t available in mainstream record stores at the time.”

As it turns out, the taste of Tanaka’s mixes and recordings coincided with the burgeoning Shibuya kei scene’s stylistic collage of acid jazz, lounge, bossa nova, French pop and soft rock, and soon found a ready audience. “Now there’s a whole section devoted to lounge music,” he notes. “At that time there wasn’t anything, but I hoped there would at least be a few people who shared my tastes.”

Tanaka’s vision, however, wasn’t rooted exclusively in the past. “I wanted to create something that would pull together not only soundtracks, but also bossa nova, and contemporary styles like house and hip-hop. Since no one was doing it, I decided to do it myself, and luckily it turned out there were people around the world who felt the same.”
As FPM began to take off, Tanaka issued a steady stream of both original artist production albums and DJ compilations. Initially signed to the like-minded Pizzicato Five’s Readymade Records label, Tanaka has been with Avex since 2000. His music has also found overseas distribution via independent Emperor Norton records.

In addition to holding down a regular residency for five years at Tokyo’s legendary Yellow that regularly draws over 1,000, the DJ has been venturing further abroad to Europe, America, and increasingly, Asia. On New Year’s Eve he played for a crowd of 4,000 in South Korea. “Recently I’ve been getting a lot of invitations from Asia,” he says. “China is still into techno, but like South Korea, which began with techno and moved on to different styles, I think it will evolve. In Japan, European and American DJs are tops, but in Korea, Japanese DJs are most in demand. They treat us really nicely.”

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

top