Tuesday 27 November 2018

Season's Beatings

The Christmas and New Year season is a time when a combination of so many other people doing events and a lot of friends going on holiday or visiting their hometowns or home countries makes organising events and releasing new music a bad idea. Even so, the end of every year seems to end up with an overabundance of parties and events despite our best efforts to avoid them.

The next pay-what-you-want Call And Response Indie Disco at Shimokitazawa Three falls on December 3rd, a day when I’m out of the country on the Portuguese island of Madeira for the fascinating-looking MadeiraDIG experimental music festival. In my absence, Rally/Shingo from Tropical Death and Ralouf/Julien from Lo-shi are taking care of the booking and organising for me.

Paris Death Hilton are a duo Shingo in particular has been pushing a lot recently, and their intense, instrumental prog-electro-hardcore is a unique and intense experience in Tokyo right now. Emulsion are another band who combine progressive rock, electronic music and a punk sensibility, although they take it to a different place. Meanwhile La Belles Biologie is a project combining the experimental electronic sounds of Biology of the Future and doll-mutilating noise act Les Belles Noiseuses. I trust those two guys not to mess it up, but as a precaution I’m turning off my phone for the weekend prior.

On December 8th, I’ve got the latest instalment of the postpunk/noise-rock event Tension! that I organise occasionally with Mayumi from P-iPLE. This sixth edition of the event has an extensive lineup running all day at Nakano Moonstep — a very nice venue near where I live in Koenji. The cool thing about Moonstep is that it has two floors, with the bar on the upper floor, allowing us to set up something more easygoing where people can escape from the relentless barrage of chaos downstairs.

The flipside of that is that it’s difficult for just two people to juggle the competing needs and issues of so many participants, so right up to the time doors open, I suspect Mayumi and I will be dealing with equipment and setting issues, timetable queries and last-minute disruptions.

The really good thing about Tension!, though, is how into it so many of the artists we’ve had participate in the past have got, volunteering to help host editions of the event in their own towns and building connections, organising similar events of their own in collaboration with each other. This sort of noise-rock/postpunk music  doesn’t quite have a scene of its own in Japan, so it’s great seeing people trying to make one. The support of more well-known bands like Melt-Banana was invaluable in helping us get started back at the beginning of 2016, so we’re very excited to have them back almost three years later for this edition.

Tension! will also be a great chance for people in Tokyo to see Nagoya noise-rock champions Velvet Ants, whose mini-album Entomological Souvenirs I came out this autumn from Call And Response. They tore it up at their Nagoya release party in October and we were able to stitch together this rough & ready music video for the track Cicada from live footage.

Closer to Christmas, we’re keeping things a bit quieter, and for the first time in a long time, there’s no Call And Response Christmas event. Instead, we’re having a more intimate house party — more a “bonenkai” in the Japanese tradition than a Christmas party exactly — at Call And Response headquarters.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on around the year’s end though. Last summer, Gotal/Eric from Lo-shi moved to Tahiti at the end of a triumphant DIY tour of western Japan, but he’s returning for a handful of shows over Christmas and New Year. More info on dates will appear later, but for now, keep December 24th and January 6th free in your rolodexes or Apple Newtons or whatever you kids use to store information nowadays.

New Year’s Eve in Tokyo is usually a bit of a bust in the music scene for me, because so many parties mean that my friends and favourite bands are always fragmented and spread around dozens of different parties. To save the inevitable sense of anticlimax, my wife and I are going to spend a few days in Okinawa and then spend the last two nights of 2018 with our friends in Fukuoka, where I’m DJing two nights on at the venue Utero on December 30th and 31st.

Lastly, while there are no more releases lined up for the rest of the year, I’ve noticed recently that Nakigao Twintail’s wonderful 2016 Ichijiku EP is almost sold out now. There are ten copies left in the CAR office, and maybe one or two floating around in CD stores somewhere. The band themselves disintegrated a long time ago, as all great and promising bands are wont to do, so this CD-R is probably the only chance you’ll get to experience this singular group of lunatics. Check out some of the songs below, and you can buy the CD from our online store here.

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