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by Don Crispy

Metamorphose 2005

Outdoor festivals provide a way around strict nightlife laws, says founder Mayuri

Galaxy 2 Galaxy
Courtesy of Metamorphose

Good weather and the chance to cut loose under the stars aren’t the only reason Japan’s dance scene moves outdoors in the summer. “You don’t need IDs to get into outdoor festivals, so it’s more happening in the summer,” says veteran DJ and promoter Mayuri.

Japan’s infamous fueiho public morals laws require clubbers to be above 20 and for dance venues to close their doors at 1am. Strict ID checks in recent years and enforcement of the curfew through raids on clubs like Maniac Love have had the effect of putting teenagers off clubbing. “Teenagers cannot come to clubs, which is a big loss for the scene. These are the people who have a lot of passion and are open to music,” Mayuri adds.

“They have the time to indulge in music and practice DJing. If people pass this stage and start to listen to dance music from their 20s, it’s a little late to decide to become a DJ. There are new DJs, producers and parties, but there could be a lot more if the fueiho didn’t exist.”

The clubs’ loss has been outdoor parties’ gain, if sheer numbers of events and customers is the measure. Mayuri’s Metamorphose, for instance, drew some 20,000 to Naeba ski resort last year. For this year’s event, Mayuri decided to relocate from Naeba, the venue where the Fuji Rock Festival is held, to a new location in Shizuoka prefecture.

“We moved basically because Naeba is far, especially from Kansai,” she says. “The Cycle Sports Center is better than Naeba in many ways: it’s closer to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, where most of our audience comes from; it’s an amusement park; it has an onsen on the site, it’s not in the mountains, so the weather is more stable; and you can see Mt. Fuji.”
As has been the case since Metamorphose was launched, the bill is a wide-ranging one that takes in electronic music forms from Detroit techno to experimental post-rock, and from hip-hop to drum‘n’bass. About the only kind of dance music you won’t find on the bill is trance, which forms a distinct subculture in itself.

Among the most anticipated sets will be one by Galaxy 2 Galaxy, a collective of Detroit techno veterans whose performance moved many during a tour of artists on the Motor City’s Submerge label last February. Galaxy 2 Galaxy came into being with the Nation 2 Nation disc in 1990, and set the template for “Hi-tech Jazz” on a song of the same name from its historic Galaxy 2 Galaxy album in 1993.

But it wasn’t until fellow Detroit warrior Jeff Mills’ Time Sensitive tour in Tokyo in 2001 found a receptive audience that Galaxy 2 Galaxy came into being as a touring entity. The band is anchored by Jeff Banks, a longtime member of Mills’ Underground Resistance collective of Detroit artists.
Says Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s website: “Knowing that Jeff [Mills] would create the correct atmosphere, Banks decided to do a small 4 man band which fitted with Jeff’s concept, as well as representing a cross section of time with varying UR band members ranging from old, battle-hardened veterans to new and up and coming artists.”

The fact that Galaxy 2 Galaxy was only able to support a live tour thanks to Japan testifies to the country’s continued love affair with electronic music. Count on the faithful to make the upcoming Metamorphose, along with electronica shows Utage, Solstice Music Festival, Splash Down and Vision Quest, some of the biggest music events of the summer in any genre.

Nihon Cycle Sports Center, Aug 27-28. See concert listings for details.


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