Pizzicato 5 and other Japanese HepCats

I love Japan’s Pizzicato Five. I have as stand-alones Made in USA 1994, the sound of music 1995, Antique 96 1995, (as mp3) Sister Freedom 1996, Happy End of the World 1997. I first heard a track from Made in USA on a CMJ compilation & loved its cheerful bouncy sensibility. Most of their US releases have been compilations from the Japanese releases. 

Their sound is a curious mix of styles – a touch of latino, a helping of house music, sweet electronica put though a Japanese blender of cultural distance & reverence. Lead singer Maki Nomiya reminds me of Astrid Gilberto with her easy playful singing. Each album has a slightly different sensibility & all are a delight.

Antique 96 is their most ‘traditional’ pop synthesis of tracks recorded before they broke into the North American market. I love their house music work – Hey DJ is a track that’ll make you want to dance. Some tracks have been used in movies & even TV shows – often to create sense hipness on behalf of the film makers lol. I’m always happy when I recognize them is background music. Made in USA or Sound Of are great introductions to this mercilessly cheerful group.

A couple of recent Japanese additions are some mp3’s by Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi: Kenka Oyaji, In Praise of Mitochondria. Hoodoo is a mid-80’s  milestone creator in Japan’s early hip hop and electro-funk history. The sound is sampled, drum-machine, electronica & some wild guitar with occasional vocals. Think Herbie Hancock Future Shock. A Facebook friend posted a link to one of the tracks & I was smitten. 

Another Japanese discovery is Takeshi Terauchi: Mr. Electric Guitar the Terry World. Terry was a dynamic guitarist – some his playing is breathtaking – a cross between Roy Buchanan and The Ventures. This is a double cd – the first being original work, the second rock interpretations of classical music – Beethoven’s 5th, Orphan Aux Enfers etc. An over-all garage band aesthetic that I love. Amazing & worth checking out on YouTube.

Underwear

I didn’t mean to laugh

as your dropped your pants

but after four weeks of email

msn and webcam smiles

long phone calls

meeting face-to-face 

twice

to keep from rushing from hi to bed

first at starbucks for latte

again two days later for dinner

followed by drinks in a dark bar

groped delirious in the warm night 

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finally we had enough trust 

to enter your apartment

(yours because it was closest)

we knew what each was into

plans for the future

expectations of relationships

expectations for this relationship

which we both approached as adults

eager for long term commitments

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in the empty elevator to the 19th floor

we two men in our forties

were like teenage horn dogs

yanking shirts up

pushed one another to the wall

fell as the doors unexpectedly opened

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we got to your place

giggled wrestling to the couch

in our groping we knew

how solid one another’s 

engorged members were

members trapped too too long in jeans

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at this point

after teasing weeks of tentative explorations

when you dropped your pants

I burst into laugher

not at you

no no not at you

but those jokey jockeys

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who knew 

I’d get caught short by your shorts

your identity undone by those undies

I was unaware underwear 

could make such a big difference

<>

next time I won’t waste four weeks

2007

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