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DeathPosture

V/A – After Ten Years Of Japanese Trance

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DeathPosture    15

V/A – After Ten Years Of Japanese Trance

 

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Full digipack artwork: http://www.makura-graphics.jp/images/image/works/elf-01.jpg

 

Artist: Various (Japan)

Title: After Ten Years Of Japanese Trance

Format: CD (digipack)

Label: ELF Music (Japan)

Cat. #: ELFCD-07

Date: 3 November 2004

 

Track listing:

 

01. 08’33” Tri-Force – Interstellar Harmonics

02. 09’21” Hydro Generator - Sunset

03. 08’44” Drap Drop - Poponga

04. 06’52” I.B.I.S. - Reaction

05. 07’49” Elegraffiti – Beneath The Blue

06. 07’53” Theoreme - Ridatsu

07. 07’38” Bug Funk – Cursed Death Rmx

08. 07’48” Phi – Everything Never Can’t Stop Us Dude

09. 08’11” Uni - Adventure

 

Review:

 

9 lives of the psymurai!

 

Japanese label ELF Music has made quite a mark of themselves in 2004 – first they released the brilliant debut-album by Phi, and now they’re releasing this ambitious compilation to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Japanese psytrance. My first impression when looking at the tracklist was ‘Where the hell are Tsuyoshi Suzuki and Takeichirou Kurosaki?’ … But the stuff those guys produce today, doesn’t really qualify as psy-trance anymore… What we get here is the new breed of Japanese psytrance-producers + a couple of veteran sumo-producers… A snapshot of the scene!

 

Let me take you thru the tracks…

 

#01: [144 BPM] Tri-Force – Interstellar Harmonics

Sha-A is the guy behind Tri-Force, and he had a track on the first Zen compilation on Déjà vu Records… Interstellar Harmonics is a very harmonic, floating melodic track… Long, atmospheric, drifting pads with epic qualities… Kinda reminds me of the first 3-4 tracks of the 12 Moons album Solid State released earlier this year on Candyflip Records… It would fit right in on an Ibiza-compilation… It’s kinda clubby, though with a distinct psy-trance edge… It’s nice and well-produced, but just a tad too well-polished for my taste…Decent track!

 

#02: [145 BPM] Hydro Generator – Sunset

I’ve never heard of Hydro Generator (DJ Toru) before, but he’s a rising star in Japan and his tracks are also featured on the new USTA compilation Zoo-B 3 – Psypolitical… Sunset is also a well-polished, melodic track – though with a slightly harder edge than the previous track… I like the naïve melodies and the twirling little riffs… Great contrast effect… Also, I like how the percussion evolves constantly playing tricks on you…Oh, and how I love a nice melodic climax – and we get a couple of those in this track… Nice! First half of the track is so-so, but the second half lifts it – lovely track!

 

#03: [145 BPM] Drap Drop – Poponga

Drap Drop consists of Tsune and DJ E-L5 and again an unknown act to me. I know they had a track released on the Shiva Space Japan compilation Intelligence though… A nice and calm, though kinda weird intro is soon interrupted by a mean ol’ banging bassline… And then, it’s more weirdness… Acid belches, electro farts and digital drama… Combined with analogue synthlines, off-key percussion and a bunch of Nintendo samples… Actually, I’m guessing this is actually kinda normal for Japanese standards… ;o) I do like the galloping acid-parts though – very, very nice! I’m sure this will appeal to fans of both say, Mandalavandalz and Electric Universe… Highly original, though parts of it are approaching the too-weird-for-my-taste factor… Interesting track!

 

#04: [144 BPM] I.B.I.S. – Reaction

This guy did some tracks for the Xbox game Project Gotham Racing, and if they are anything like this, they’re pretty good! This is a pretty hardcore track with a nice artificial groove too it… Hard-hitting, industrial sounding FX make up the spine of the track… Digital bassline & percussion and metallic whooshes and spiralling sounds add to the overall darkish feel… It’s dark without being scary – very atmospheric! I like it!

 

#05: [142 BPM] Elegraffiti – Beneath The Blue

DJ Ryo & Kameda are both very active in the Japanese scene – party organizing, DJ’ing, sound-wizardry, etc… Here they bring us a tribal tune that has a very cool, kinda gritty groove to it… The groove is unpolished, but of course it’s intentional – and it’s very nice… I also like drive here – and the small hints of psychedelia… This is a nice little track, without being overly impressive…

 

#06: [145 BPM] Theoreme - Ridatsu

“Party in Paris!!” … Theoreme is Tadashi Sasaki and he has an album out and tracks on a couple of full-on compilations… After a bombastic, orchestral intro things are soon developing into something even bigger… bassline is added … synths… And more orchestral pomp – and before you know if, the track is in full FX... Great use of stereo-effects here… And this is not your ordinary boring full-on formula track… Just wait until 4’30 when the build-up starts… tension building… you just know this is going to be good… you can cut the excitement with a knife … and then @ 5’52: BAM! “Party in Paris!!” … Climax time – and holy geisha, this is some brilliant full-on… Highly trance-inducing blasting acid-lines… Dance floor napalm! ;o)

 

#07: [148 BPM] Bug Funk - Cursed Death Rmx

First Bug Funk was Gamma and Mizuki, but now it’s only Mizuki producing what he calls ‘brain destruction’ … And yeah, I can see that… Or rather hear that… This is highly psychedelic music… Ripping 303s and synth-galore… Twisted, to say the least - with naïve, off-key melodies and dark basslines + all kinds of spooky samples and FX… Check out the old-school church-bells – cool! Gamma is trying to scare the shit out of us – and he succeeds… At least I’m freaked out when listening to this… And who doesn’t like getting scared? ;o) Brilliant track!

 

#08: [146 BPM] Phi – Everything Never Can’t Stop Us Dude

Ahh, Phi – the kings of Japanese tweakage and Engrish track titles! I was utterly blown away by Phi’s debut album Phinalizer released earlier this year on ELF Music… Now Shuji Ichimura & Shinnosuke Masuo brings us another full-blown goa-tune bearing their trademark sound… Highly psychedelic full-on in the good old sense… It’s full-scale, acid-ridden madness guaranteed to make you ass wiggle… Impressive track!

 

#09: [144 BPM] Uni – Adventure

Uni are Matsuda (Macho) and Yamazaki (Osho) from Kyoto and my good friend Jikkenteki have referred to them as one of Japan’s better kept psy-secrets… And I guess that’s true – for me at least. They’ve been in the game since 1996 and have released 3 albums – the last one in August 04. This is the oddball track of the compilation – with obvious references to other musical styles that you do not usually associate with psy-trance… Well, at least not in the same context as they are used here… Heavy metal guitar, easy-listening piano and all kinds of other stuff… I even think they sampled the Twin Peaks intro… This track is less accessible than some of the others, but after repeated listens I’ve come to appreciate it… I really like the diversity and the special atmosphere this track creates…And the production is flawless… Lovely!

 

Well, it looks like the Phi-album Phinalizer wasn’t a lucky punch for ELF Music ‘cause this is another very fine release… This is an excellent compilation giving us a thumbnail sketch of what’s going on in Japan nowadays… We really get all sorts here… From light, fluffy morning trance to raw, brutal night trance… And everything in between!

 

I’m particularly impressed with the acid-ridden full-on tracks – they’ve sliced my brain up like a Hatori Hanzo sword would have! And that’s damn near the best recommendation I can give… Anyone who likes intelligent psy-trance with wabi-flavour should check this out… Recommended!

 

Arrigato! Kunichowa!

 

Favourites: 2, 4, 6(!!), 7, 8(!), 9

 

DeathPosture

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External link:

ELF Music: http://www.elf-music.net/

 

---

Will be out November 3rd 2004. Distribution outside Japan has not yet fallen into place – but rest assured, this will be in worldwide distribution soon… I’ll update this thread with links once the online-shops are sorted…

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Jikkenteki    6

Various Artists - After 10 Years Of Japanese Trance

 

ELF Music 2004 ELFCD-007

 

1 - Tri-Force – Interstellar Harmonics

2 - Hydro Generator - Sunset

3 - Drap Drop - Poponga

4 - I.B.I.S. - Reaction

5 - Elegraffiti – Beneath The Blue

6 - Theoreme - Ridatsu

7 - Bug Funk – Cursed Death Rmx

8 - Phi – Everything Never Can’t Stop Us Dude

9 - Uni - Adventure

 

After the release of Phi's excellent Phinalizer album, ELF Music follows up with yet another winner which focuses on more Japanese artists.

 

Tri-Force starts us off with Interstellar Harmonics. This monster starts off the way an album should start off. Big, brooding and epic, this piece of full on-ish psy should get the dance floors worked up nicely. Musically I have always felt that good full on should both pound and soar at the same time and Interstellar Harmonics is definitely a track that does both. The bass and percussion definitely pound, but synth-wise there is less emphasis on wizzy zipping sounds and more on soaring, reverb drenched atmospheres and melodies. After the break the track even goes through some chord progressions in the bass line, a welcome, but not often seen thing as of late. All and all this is looking to be a good release from ELF.

 

Next stop is Sunset, from Hydro Generator. The vibe and production values here are similar to the opener. The beginning gives us some open spaces, slowly building hats and some clean muted guitar sounding bits and pieces. Slowly the kick works in and the layers start to build. The sound-scape isn't too dense, but the vibe is nice and calm, floating airily over the bass, kick and hats. The emphasis is again more on melodic sounds rather than atonal noise. The production is top notch, although I find myself wishing that the hats were a little quieter and the leads a little louder. That said its a small issue and Sunset is indeed a nice track. Again, full on-ish, but not really all that full on outside of the bass line.

 

Drap Drop's Poponga is next on the list. Here we have a much harder kick and some nice conga work starting us off. This is much more of a traditional full on track, but it reminds me more of the earlier era of full on. In fact it actually reminds me of early Talamasca here and there (a good thing in my book). As the layers build up some surprises come in. There are some small organ hits eventually a rather strange synth lines in that somehow shouldn't work, yet does in a way that a lot of Japanese music seems to pull off. Tonally this makes for a really bizarre track taking some of the initial hard edge off it, but I like it. Definitely not run of the mill.

 

I.B.I.S. offers us our next track in Reaction. Starts us off hard and thumping with a solid 16th note bassline and kick providing the groundwork and a mess of zippy, crashing zapping noise floating overhead. Just as I am starting to think that perhaps the sound space is a bit hallow, suddenly some HUGE pads come in, almost as if on request, and fill up the sonic space wonderfully. Again we have that winning aggressively stomping while soaring in the clouds combination I love. This is definitely the thickest track of the comp sonically so far, going from minimal sections, filling the audio cup, then dumping it out and starting over several times. Great stuff.

 

Beneath The Blue by Elegraffiti is the 5th stop on ELF's sonic bus. Things start with a sort of slow tension, finally popping the balloon straight into another quality number. Lots of cool metallic warbling sounds and fly by sounds, while the synth bits slowly pile up and some congas work their way in. Some bits of this actually remind me somehow of old X-Dream in their construction (again, a good thing in my book). Definitely a modern track, but it somehow recalls the "good old days" too.

 

Theoreme starts us off in Ridatsu with some orchestral strings that almost remind me of Uni's work, in that they are entirely "natural" sounding (i.e. they don't sound like Classical Mushroom or The Misted Muppet type strings), but they still work well. The track quickly drops into a serious full on-ish bassline and when the strings cut out, the leads take over and bring things to a higher level. Lots of nice sudden choppy breaks and change ups to keep things interesting. Again, good stuff.

 

Bug Funk comes in next with Cursed Death RMX and, as the name might imply, things go over the top here. At 148 bpm, its definitely the fastest track of the comp. The intro starts off almost in the Xenomorph brand of horror trance. The kick is high and edgy, but I must admit, I find the bass a bit garbled for this speed. Else wise, we have everything you would expect from, i.e. sheer madness. Sudden breaks for weird sitar like lines, dissonant pianos, and general craziness of the horror trance variety. Part way through the bass changes up for the better for awhile and the track comes into its own. Maybe not for everyone, but for fans of over the top madness and horror trance, this is a winner.

 

Phi comes up next with a typically wonderful Phi nonsense track title, Everything Never Can't Stop Us, Dude. Umm, yeah, right on... I think. All kidding aside, fans of Phi's excellent debut album, Phinalizer, will be happy to know Phi has started up right where they left off with that album. If you know the Phi sound, you know what to expect. That's being a sort of hi-fi lo-fi hybrid full on monster hard goa trance beast with lots of breaky beats in the background. If you liked Phinalizer, you'll like this, 'nuff said.

 

Closing the album is Uni, with Adventrue, a track from their recent (and great) album La'Movin. Like Phi, Uni very much as their own sound that you can identify quickly if you know it. The sound is epic, smooth, with some great echoing piano lines, yet edgy, with some crunchy guitars (but not over the top, don't worry, this is no generic metal riff track). This ended up being one of my favorite tracks from La'Movin so its a great choice for this comp.

 

The final result - ELF Music is on a hot streak here with two excellent releases in a row. After 10 Years Of Japanese Trance is definitely one of the better comps I have gotten recently, offering us something familiar, but still unique in its own way. Better still, ELF is about the only Japanese label really giving the new generation of Japanese artists the attention they really deserve. All in all highly recommended!

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