Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alone Together: The Beginning of Human

“We make techno music like we draw manga!”


We have a brand-spanking-new release knocking about this week, through our rambunctious label IF?, a digital download offering available exclusively via Addictech, and it’s from Japanese artist par excellence (as the French mutter), Alone Together.

Also known as Yuki Ota, he’s one of the truly innovative (nice) guys here in Tokyo, and even Toshiyuki Yasuda thinks Yuki’s unique and crazy. We consider his stuff wild, scattered, amazing, eccentric, and way way cool—precisely IF?’s cup o’ tea.

Yuki remains deceptively low-key about his occasionally madcap electronic sounds. “I am a broken piano player,” he says on his MySpace site. “I practice Broken Piano theory in Alone Together.”

Yuki also informs that he plays (and creates) pop music that’s not currently part of the Alone Together play-list, using his real name as the production alias.

Yuki’s debut Alone Together EP is titled The Beginning of Human, and you can check out the video (above), or samples of his tracks online @ the IF? d/download site

Iffy Bizness: Who or what is your No. 1 inspiration when you make music?
Yuki: “Computer technology.”

Some people compare your music with Si Begg, Toshiyuki Yasuda, Cassetteboy and Luke Vibert. Are they influences?
“I didn’t know them. But I searched for them on YouTube, MySpace... Their music is very individual and experimental. I like their music.”

What exactly would you call your own music?
“I call my music Broken Piano and Sound Collage.”

So how is it unique?
“This is a difficult question. I make the music that I want to listen to. I don’t make music when there has already been the music that I want to listen to in the world. There may be some kind of connection there.”

s your favourite Japanese action movie?
Battles Without Honor and Humanity, by director Kinji Fukasaku. Quite simply it’s a cool and clear movie, and Bunta Sugawara is wonderful.”

Do you like J-Pop or Enka music?
“I like some Japanese musicians—especially CHARA. I really love her music and a voice.”

Whos your favourite Japanese musician?
“CHARA (チャラ), Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra (渋さ知らズオーケストラ), and Kazuki Tomokawa (友川かずき).”

In a grand master bout between Godzilla and Mothra, who’d claim the golden glove?
“I’ve never watched any of those movies.”

Whats your favorite Japanese food?

Finally, why is it that Japanese techno and electronic music is so darned cool?
“In my opinion, the Japanese cannot sing like James Brown, and we’re poor at using the body—but we like to imagine. The sequencer gave us the means to express that imagination through music. And we make techno music like we draw manga!”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Robot crooner

Robo*Brazileira is my singing alias, a fictitious Brazilian robot,” Toshiyuki Yasuda patiently explains to the unenlightened. “For me, the robot is one view-point with which to see ourselves, as humans. To see us cautiously, I think I must have external eyes.”

Thus espouses one of Japan’s best electronic musicians, a man revered equally by Si Begg and Uwe Schmidt (Atom Heart, Señor Coconut)—and by me.

There’s a brand-spanking-new insight online:
Beatportal interview with Toshiuki Yasuda.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Toho Studios, Japan

OK, so you’ve seen the famous logo, and maybe you’ve been privy to essential Japanese classics cut in this monopolizing studio system.

Located in a surprisingly wealthy part of Setagaya, here in Tokyo, is the sprawling home of Toho Studios. Not only is Toho the largest and most famous film studio in Japan, but it’s the owner of one of the more internationally famous film logos, pretty much on par with MGM’s roaring lion, for those of us more inclined towards Asian cinema.

On location at the studio, you’ll discover a collection of sound-stages, outdoor arenas, Toho cattle-branded milkcrates that’d sell for a wad on eBay, and massive warehouses—plus a stream lined with gorgeous cherry blossom trees, all of it originally set up in 1936 by railroad and showbiz entrepeneur, Ichizo Kobayashi.

After pumping out propaganda films during World War 2, Toho overcame a brush with bankruptcy and disfavor with the American occupation forces to unleash a wad of critically successful and international regarded movies by Akira Kurosawa, such as this blog’s ongoing infatuation, Seven Samurai, a scene from which is now boldly embossed across the outer wall of the studio (see happy snap attached here).

It’s at least 10 meters high, and you can’t miss it when you visit.

In 1954, Toho also changed the science fiction world when they released the first Gojira movie—better known to you and me as Godzilla—and followed up with over two dozen sequels.

Toho’s star has waned in recent years, but the studio continues to produce movies in conjunction with Japanese TV companies like TBS.

One such collaboration has been the upcoming Masahiro Nakai/Yukie Nakama WW2 drama, 私は貝になりたい (Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai), a movie to be released in Japanese cinemas on Nov. 22nd, but which oddly keeps changing English titles, from I Want to be a Shellfish to, more recently, I Want to Return to the Family.

Toho is also a major distributor for smaller production houses, like Asmik House—the company that unleashed the Ringu movies—along with anime studios Production I.G and Studio Ghibli.

Wanna see more of these venerable premises? For an automated guided tour, head here:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

'Robota' is now out there, McDuff!


(IF? Records/Hypnotic Room)

Some covert obsessive-compulsive angles don't change, like the rather scatter-brained Little Nobody infatuation for things robotic (and rusty tin ones, to boot).

The name of the new Little Nobody EP is 'Robota', and for this one we shanghaied Japanese producer Toshiyuki Yasuda (one of Si Begg's favorite musicians, and who just finished working with Señor Coconut, a.k.a. Atom Heart) into the arrangement, to do gorgeous, robot-style vocoder vocals as Robo*Brazileira.

The resultant track, with accompanying remixes by Funk Gadget (that's me again, under another silly alias) and Dick Drone, was released today in the digital download terrain via IF? in conjunction with Hypnotic Room, on Beatport, etc, and it's just been remixed by Steve Stoll and Jammin' Unit, so look out for those wild versions early on in 2009.

In the meantime, the rather crazy original version here is already getting some club and radio airplay in Japan and over in the UK, as well as on 2SER in Sydney and 3PBS in Melbourne. More info and feedback from fellow DJ/proddies is online at Hypnotic Room here:

We also just got a review from those fellow misguided souls at Robot Société magazine, which we'll use here for a semblance of propaganda rather than ranting on ourselves:

"Welcome to the future, old school robotic style - think Underground Resistance lobbed back into the soundtrack for Forbidden Planet, tin-pot robots from the '50s let screw-loose within a 21st century tech/electro studio, thereby creating future-funk-breaks never before encountered this side of Isaac Asimov's id. While the humor and the playfulness are oh-so-gleeful, the technical virtuosity and depth of imagination, along with the canny understanding of an open-minded, carousing dance floor, are themselves superb."

So, what to expect?

Check out Hypnotic Room's site for freebie sample sounds, or head off to the YouTube & MySpace clips (blogged below) for a dose of Robota zaniness. Stylistically, the Andrez + Toshiyuki mix is waywardly and loudly barnstorming tech-breaks, while Funk Gadget goes more kitsch-mechanical, the sparser moments colliding with killer, machine-based wind-up frequencies. Dick Drone heads off in grander, more ethereal, clicky and glitchy territory.


01. Robota (Andrez & Toshiyuki Mix)
02. Robota (Funk Gadget Remix)
03. Robota (Dick Drone Remix)

Something for all the disconcerted family!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jammin Masters

So, you’re a naff musician, and you honestly believe your next track is the one that’s going to break the bank and clamber through the charts, thence to send muzak mag editors and hack journos into a feeding frenzy, right? But who’re you going to call to do the all-essential mastering and tweaking and, better still, cut you a superb remix to go on the flipside of your metaphysical, best-selling record?

Ahh, that’s when you conjure up Berlin, Germany, and the studio of Jammin Masters, who promise to help with track preparation, sound-, dynamic- and stereo field processing, digital editing, restoration, sum & difference (M/S), stem- or separation mastering, and general laying-on of hands.

This isn’t just some mild-mannered, anonymous studio—this is the hall of (musical) justice, where musician Cem Oral is at play. I first met Cem in Sydney about 12 years ago, when I stuck an IF? sticker on his shoe. We’ve stayed mates since in spite of that, but it’s his own musical tinkering that continues to astound me.

Cem is the guy behind aliases like Jammin’ Unit and G 104, plus he worked as Air Liquide and Madonna 303 with Dr. Walker, Ultrahigh with Roger Cobernus (a.k.a. Kerosene), and as Cube 40 with his brother, Can (Khan Of Finland). With Cobernus, Cem also ran the utterly brilliant Pharma label in the 1990s.

So, yeah, this guy has history. He’s also one of the coolest, nicest lads to work with, and a great mate. He’s our captain of mastering prowess—the guy we call when we need a much-needed hand. And, better yet, he’s now offering Financial Crisis Rates’.

What more could you ask for?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here's the original version of ROBOTA

Check out this video: Little Nobody feat. Robo*Brazileira - Robota

Big thanks again to Toshiyuki Yasuda, and the nice feedback from Steve Stoll, Jammin' Unit, etc! This one will be released online through IF? and Hypnotic Room, but first up through the latter, this coming 12th November.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

new LITTLE NOBODY hack video

Little Nobody feat. Robo*Brazileira - Robota (Funk Gadget remix)

This one will be in November 2008, through IF? Records and Hypnotic Room in Sydney—big thanks to Toshiyuki Yasuda (aka Robo*Brazilieira) for his yummy vocoder vocal work-out, and DJ Hi-Shock for running with the beastie.