Selected by Don Crispy

Captain Funk

Captain Funk

Sublime Records

In the shiny, postmodern offices of cutting-edge techno label Sublime Records, one of Japan' foremost DJ/producers Captain Funk (Tatsuya Oe) - is preparing to unleash his latest album on an unsuspecting public at Sublime's annual year-end Reel Up party at Liquid Room on December 22.

The new album, Songs of the Siren, which the artist describes as "physical and organic," marks a major departure for Captain Funk, who made his name in the late '90s as Japan's foremost big beat artist.

Escaping the pressure to follow up his massive '99 album Bustin Loose - an album hailed by big beat king Fatboy Slim as "F***ing insane!" - was not as hard as it sounds for Captain Funk. The DJ, who like so many started on guitar before switching to the decks, says he was "feeling limited by the sampler" and wanted to get away from the "static production process" of working only with machines.

Enter Raj Ramayya, a Canadian singer with expat rock band Beautiful Losers. "Before I made the album I knew Raj," recounts Captain Funk. "He knew me, my taste, and for this album I wanted to include live instrumental tracks. I also wanted to include a message - not only a simple 'get up' dance music message but something a bit richer. For that I needed vocals. I can't sing and I wanted someone I can communicate with. Raj is a good vocalist and I thought his voice would match my tracks."

Ramayya participates on several of the album's tracks, which take the listener on an absorbing tour through psychedelic retro-rock, jazz and experimental, with only hints of the fat, funky beats typical of Bustin' Loose. The result - while it may alienate some fans - is surprisingly successful, and would sound appropriate at a rock venue or dance club.

At the upcoming Reel Up party, Captain Funk says that he will perform tracks of the new album live with Ramayya, mixing "programmed beats with live instrumentals to create something versatile."

Fans of Captain Funk's big beat work need not be alarmed by the DJ's new direction. "Everyone said on hearing the new album, 'Captain Funk wants to be in a band,' but it's not that," he insists. "I'm still programming and I don't want to form a strictly rock band. I just want to collaborate with all kinds of musicians out of the club scene."

In addition to Captain Funk, Reel Up will feature the entire roster of Sublime artists including heavyweights Ken Ishii, Susumu Yokota, Wada, Yama and Co-Fusion, as well as lesser known newcomers Yoshihiro Sawasaki and Rei Harukami.

Reel Up: Liquid Room, 12/22, 10pm, JY3300 (adv), JY3800 (door). Tel: 03-3200-6831.

Ralph Lawson
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