Resonance FM 20/11/14

From Ween demos to a Bollywood interpretation of 'Video Killed The Radio Star', this show was an eccentric trip around the world. I opened the show with a trio of tunes by Ween, then followed up with tracks by New York school teacher Nancy Dupree, Somalian funk group Dur-Dur Band and Ethiopian legend Mahmoud Ahmed. I closed the show with a totally wacky cover of The Buggles classic 'Video Killed The Radio Star' by Indian film composers Usha Uthup and Bappi Lahiri.

Dig That Treasure (20/11/14)
Ween - Hey There Fancy Pants (demo)
Ween - That's Poppycock (demo)
Ween - Ocean Man (demo)
Nancy Dupree - Cold
Dur-Dur Band - Dooyo
Mahmoud Ahmed - Bemin Sebeb Litlash
Usha Uthup & Bappi Lahiri - Auva Auva Koi Yahan Nache

Super Eccentric Theater - Oh Les Beaux Japonais!

My recent listening habits have been incredibly Japan-centric and on regular rotation have been the works of Yellow Magic Orchestra, Haruomi Hosono, Susan, Shigeo Sekito, Inoyama Land and many more. In all this fascinated exploration has been one song that I've played more than any other; a song that I've really fallen in love with. Super Eccentric Theater's 'Oh Les Beaux Japonais!'. Carrying a tight new-wave groove, murmured girl-boy vocals and a ludicrously catchy hook, the track is a perfect example of the off-kilter pop that came out of Japan in the late 1970s and early '80s. What is most intriguing about this song however is its Francophile theme - something that colours its lyrics and title. This alone may not seem particularly fascinating, but when considered that this is just one example of many Francophile Japanese pop songs, everything becomes more peculiar. A trend develops. There is a definite and fairly prominent obsession with French culture in the Japanese pop music of the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Songs by Tamao Koike were often either sung in French or had French titles, while minimal electronica group Variètè expressed their passion in their band name. More broadly, Yellow Magic Orchestra based tracks on the works of Jean-Luc Godard, while the entire Shibuya-kei scene takes influence from - besides South American bossa-nova and North American lounge music - French yé-yé. But what does this obsession imply? And where does it come from? One could look as far back as the Chinoiserie of early modern Europe for explanation. This European passion for all things Chinese was born from a Romanticised vision of the East and later consummated by the establishment of trade links. It was France that the Siamese sought alliance with in the 1680s and the term Chinoiserie itself is, of course, French. Fast forward a few hundred years and perhaps France has developed a broader appreciation of the 'Far East', while intercultural exchanges have in turn benefited Asian cultures. Japanese artists and trendsetters may have done in the 1960s what many Europeans did centuries before that and created a Romanticised idea of their counterpart. France in the mid-20th century was, of course, a colourful all-singing all-dancing parade, and to many dreamers decidedly more cosmopolitan, challenging and risqué than its neighbours. Who would not want to channel such influences in their music? The often-kitsch result of French pop's influence is after all prevalent in many Western pop musics. But maybe there is a deeper psychological connection between the countries. Besides, this is a world in which a disorder called 'Pari Shōkōgun' (or Paris Syndrome) exists, a syndrome to which Japanese people are considered more susceptible. I guess that ultimately my attempted explanations for this phenomenon don't fully cover it and I'm merely tabling ideas. Frankly I am unable - and to some extent unwilling - to conclude on it. But maybe that's a good thing, for this fascinating trend is something that is made all the more exciting to me by its mystery.

Label: Yen Records
Year: 1984
Genre: New-Wave, Shibuya-kei, Synth-Pop, Experimental

Tabu Ley Rochereau - Lina

Although soukous is a musical style that is relatively unfamiliar to me it is something I have a fondness for and have previously written about on this blog. Those earlier posts focused on Leon Bukasa and Dr Nico, two Congolese musicians with a very similar interpretation of the style. On both occasions I used the word "dreamy" to describe their music which - although casual and fairly unsophisticated - holds up as an accurate description of their sound. With Tabu Ley Rochereau, much of this remains true. His music carries that same 'dreamy' sound as Bukasa and Dr Nico, with delay-coloured guitar and beautiful soft vocals. In my summary of Bukasa's work, I mentioned the featured song's name change ('Congo/Zaire Ya Biso') - a process enforced by dictatorial rule, a part of President Mobutu's 'Zairization' of Congo. Very similarly Rochereau - born Pascal-Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabu - adopted his well-known title as a response to Mobutu's rise to power. In fact, one of Rochereau's later albums was banned by the President, demonstrating the effect of dictatorship on the nation's music. In an unsettling political period it is somewhat peculiar that the music of Rochereau and his contemporary's is so settled; so comforting and mellow.

Label: African
Year: 1969
Genre: Soukous, Rumba, Jazz

Haruomi Hosono - Sportsmen

Other than posting the weekly Resonance FM radio show, I've been inactive on the blog of late. I've been itching to write posts and what better way to return than with a track by pop legend Haruomi Hosono? A member of the ludicrously influential Yellow Magic Orchestra, this is a man whose involvement in Japanese pop music is so mind-bogglingly prominent that it's hard to keep track with who he has (and hasn't) collaborated with. Whether it's been as a member of Happy End, producing and writing for Jun Togawa, collaborating with Tamao Koike or releasing an exotica-funk record with Shigeru Suzuki and Tatsuro Yamashita, Hosono has virtually been omnipresent. And it isn't just collaboratively that he thrives. This track, 'Sportsmen', is a sensational pop song; an archetype in the context of Japan's pop scene, it's infectious, off-kilter sophisticated fun. This is an earworm whose hook will be looping your brain for days.

Label: Yen Records
Year: 1982
Genre: New Wave, J-Pop, Experimental, Synth Pop

Resonance FM 20/11/14

This week's Resonance show largely explored ambient music and easy-listening. Starting with organist Johnny Dupont and ending with the gentle whimsy of The Incredible String Band, the episode had a particularly calming tone to it. Arthur Lyman supplied the jazz with his exotica rendition of 'Autumn Leaves' while Shigeo Sekito brought the smooth electronica. Japanese duo Inoyama Land were the evening's featured artist, while Mark Isham and Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschet also featured.

Dig That Treasure (13/11/14)
Johnny Dupont - Ebb Tide
Arthur Lyman - Autumn Leaves
Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschet - Manège
Shigeo Sekito - The Word II
Mark Isham - Something Nice For My Dog
Inoyama Land - 8-31
Inoyama Land - Glass Chaim
The Incredible String Band - Air

Resonance FM 13/11/14

The most recent episode of Dig That Treasure on Resonance 104.4fm was filled to the brim with the wacky and tacky. Opening the track was the seductive Chuck Edwards, followed by the surrealist Japanese pop of Variètè, the off-kilter kitsch of Sally Oldfield, the saccharine sound of Fatouma Mansour, and eventually the Soviet pop of Aida Vedishcheva. Whew. Lots of gloss.

Dig That Treasure (13/11/14)
Chuck Edwards - Ooh La La La
Variètè - Good-Night Age
Sally Oldfield - Answering You
Sally Oldfield - Easy
Fatouma Mansour - ?
Aida Vedishcheva - Comment Te Dire Adieu

Resonance FM 6/11/14

To celebrate the release of his new record Pom Pom, I aired an Ariel Pink special of Dig That Treasure! on Resonance 104.4fm. One of my favourite artists of all time, Pink has been a huge influence on this blog and radio show, and so I felt it suitable to celebrate his career in the same vein that I've previously done with R. Stevie Moore and Van Dyke Parks. This episode was an exploration of some of his obscurer works, spanning from pre-teen recordings to recent Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti tracks. Also thrown in their is some Ghanaian highlife and Japanese pop.

Dig That Treasure (5/11/14)
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Let's Get Married Tonite
The Rising Storm - Bright Lit Blue Skies
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Phantasthma
Alhaji K. Frimpong - Susu Ne Wonka
Susan - Ah Soka!
Ariel Pink - One More Time
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Something Isn't Something

Resonance FM 30/10/14

This episode featured tracks from France, Germany, Sweden and Ethiopia, with styles including exotica, jazz and ambience. I closed the show with a tribute to my late Uncle John, an inspiring man of the kindest heart.

Dig That Treasure (30/10/14)
Jean-Jacques Perrey - Indicative Spatial
Bhakti Jazz - Glimpses Of Truth
Joe Davolaz - Piña Colada
Netsanet Melese - Yale Senebet
Woo - Taizee
Woo - Make Me Tea
Woo - The Garden Path
Tom Waits - A Good Man Is Hard To Find

Resonance FM 23/10/14

Kicking off with some Soviet new-wave, this episode travelled through Ethiopia and Italy before arriving at spooky baroque-psychedelic act Jonna Gault.

Dig That Treasure (23/10/14)
НИИ Косметики - Пушка
НИИ Косметики - Счастлив
Tewodros Tadesse - Emiye Ethiopia
Matia Bazar - Solo Tu
Jonna Gault & Her Symphonopop Scene - Wonder Why, I Guess

Resonance FM 9/10/14 (Adrian Knight)

This episode featured a very special session recorded by Adrian Knight in his Brooklyn, NY home. He played tracks from his albums Cheap Love and Pictures of Lindsey as well an unreleased tune! I also span tracks from South London newbie Alex Burey, Ghanaian Soukous legend Tabu Ley Rouchereau, and Francophile Japanese theatre group Super Eccentric Theatre.

Adrian Knight's session - with four other unaired tracks - was then put out as the first ever Dig That Treasure! Records release. It is available to stream and download here.

Dig That Treasure (9/10/14)
Alex Burey - Unspoken
Adrian Knight - Deep Dark Eyes
Adrian Knight - Alice
Adrian Knight - Scaring All The Girls Away
Tabu Ley Rochereau - Lina
Super Eccentric Theatre - Oh Les Beaux Japonais!

Resonance FM 2/10/14

From Taiwan to Greenland, this episode explored music that pushes the boundaries of what is or isn't pop music. David Darling's arrangements of Taiwanese aborigine song actually give them a structure not unlike that of a pop song, while Sven Libaek's jazz-inspired compositions span from incidental music to sunshine pop.

Dig That Treasure (2/10/14)
Jim O'Rourke - Close To You
David Darling & Wulu Bunun - Ku-Isa Tama Lag
David Darling & Wulu Bunun - Lugu Lugu Kan-Ibi
Sven Libaek - Dancing Penguins
Sven Libaek - The Set
Sven Libaek - Start Growing Up
Sume - Forventing / Ankomst

Resonance FM 25/9/14

This episode was a fabulous parade of quirky pop song after quirky pop song, with geographical origins spanning from Soviet Union to Ghana, via Italy and Japan.

Dig That Treasure (25/9/14)
Vyacheslav Mescherin Orchestra - Persistent Robot
Cst Amankwah - Biibiba
Boys Age - Just As Satan Says
Boys Age - In The Doldrums
Ruscigan - Sin Palabras
Willy Hoffman Orchestra - Coconuts
People Like Us - Downtown Once More

Resonance FM 18/9/14

Mid-September I returned to the airwaves for my third (unofficial) series of Dig That Treasure! on Resonance 104.4FM. I kicked off with some Joe Meek, exploring along the way Bollywood soundtrack, rare Northern Soul and contemporary American singer-songwriter Stephen Steinbrink.

Dig That Treasure (18/9/14)
Joe Meek - I Hear A New World
Rajesh Roshan - Superman, Superman
Darrell Banks - Open The Door To Your Heart
Darrell Banks - You Better Leave
Stephen Steinbrink - Call You Later
Tilahun Gessesse - Bemishit Chereka
Julee Cruise - Floating