Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi interview

In Praise of Mitochondria begs so many questions. This collection features some of the most innovative and cohesive examples around of supreme proto-electro, vocoder jams and electro-funk music in the world music spectrum. What was happening in Minoru’s world? It’s as if his music was made in isolation from the rest of the movement, while delving into Japanese tradition. And yet the tried and tested electro-funk formula is so distinctively present in this innovator’s work and its calibre is undeniable.

As Minoru reflects: “I often got ideas from some Japanese traditional tunes, and tried to use them in the contemporary electro sound. And it was very exciting to find the similarities of sound tendency between the traditional musical instrument’s character and the electronic synth one.”
Perspectives of this cult musical era are dominated by images of New York and the breakdance phenomena. Minoru’s iconography is both classic, historic, almost anachronistic. His freshness and style are still firmly at the fore though.
Delving further into the electro-funk scene reveals movements in various cities worldwide, where alongside hip-hop and jazz-funk culture, electro-funk and boogie were the soundtracks to secret societies and underground events. Nowadays, record sleuths are trawling bargain bins around the world, digging for one hit wonders of old and exploring electro-funk roots with glee.

It’s evolution into electro on a range of key records – maturing with influences from post-punk and new wave – are being continually re-understood. There is also wider musical lineage that can be more readily traced – of course clearly mapped in Detroit and Europe – but there are also examples emerging from around the world more and more (already uncovered by various labels such as Finders Keepers and Sublime Frequencies for a while now), including such unexpected places as Syria, India, as well as South America and the Far East.

And of course to Japan where Minoru is now becoming more recognised as a true pioneer and torch bearer of the electro-funk movement in the country. The popularity of electro among record buyers today, hooked on the distinctive and infectious grooves made by today’s stars of the scene is apparent. The modern electro movement is strong and is also linked with a resurgent passion for the electro-funk roots. The music can draw on anything from DMX Krew to D-Train, Friends Of Earth to T.W. Funkmasters, and from Stingray to the Soulsonic Force. Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi’s music fits perfectly and sounds incredible today.

It is one of the very best compilations of the year. Left Ear Records are responsible.

New material and reissues from Japan display musical diversity of nation

One of the recent highlights has been the super-funky, super flaky LP by Shintaro Sakamoto. The former Yura Yura Teikoko guitarist smashes it with his Hawaiian lap steel guitar on this, the fourth solo album by this pioneer. When Sakamoto duets with robot voices (Purging the Demons) we are hearing something unique. Love Is Possible is reggae, roots, Balearic, funk, pop and rock all at once in a heady brew that is both fresh and timeless – as you can hear from the title track.

Yura Yura Teikoku recorded a dozen studio albums between 1992 and 2007, but  played to large audiences in Japan, only touring outside the country in the United States in 2005. Sakamoto will be earning himself new listeners with this release, as well as revisits to the psychedelic rock sound of his former three piece.

There are timely reissues of the Japanese ambient variety also.  One of the most essential pieces from this country and in this genre is Yasuaki Shimizu’s Kakashi LP. This has been one of the most sought after OG vinyls from the country for many years. The 1982 first release is highly coveted and the 2016 reissue  was a welcome one, though still soaring in value since last year. Heads up on another reissue circulating soon, though not on the Better Days label.

Finally, another supreme collection of Japanese music has been released by the awesome label Light In The Attic. Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 is the first installment in what promises to be an essential ‘Japan archival’ mini-series. The twists, turns, emotion, soul, selection, package, artwork and price make this one of the must-have compilations of 2017. Music lovers can expect big things from now on with the themed mini-series.

Other artists include Haruomi Hosono, Yasuaki Shimizu, Kenji Endo, Kazuhiko Yamahira & The Sherman, Sachiko Kanenobu, Kazuhiko Kato, Takashi Nishioka and Hachimitsu Pie.

To see a collection of the stunning cover art associated with this release, click here to visit the WTM Japan page.

Left Ear select best of Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi on new compilation ‘In Praise of Mitochondria’

In Praise of Mitochondria celebrates the output of Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi who self-released four albums of unique proto-electro and rap explorations. They were released on two vinyl LPs and two CDs between 1985 and 1992 and now the ever trusty Left Ear Records from Melbourne have revisited this Japanese pioneer. Together with Jerome Qpchan, the label has selected 12 tracks for a double vinyl retrospective, including two unreleased tracks from the archives.

In the words of the esteemed Dr. Rob: “Minoru set out to combine his love of all things funk with traditional instruments and song from his homeland. He uses shamisen on Thanatopsis. Where Parliament’s Flashlight [and] George Clinton’s Atomic Dog ride with Osamu Kitajima’s Masterless Samurai. [Minoru plays] shakuhachi on Mizuko No Tamashii Hyakumademo. Nohdashi puts koto with a Jimmy Castor riff. All set to popping and locking beats.

“Minoru’s vocals switch between raps about cellular metabolism and haemoglobin, soul croon and vocoder. On Shinz-San he adds metal guitar to vintage Sugarhill. And he goes crazy with his sampler. Scratching in cats, frogs, babies, laughter, giggles, traffic jams, failing ignitions, opera singers, and amorous sighs. Furarete mixes elephant roars and go-go. [Minoru is] creating unique avant grooves that share something with Tackhead’s ON-U Sound System, Savant’s tape experiments, and fellow countrymen EP-4.” 

For more information visit Left Ear Records.

Collectors’ frenzy for Japanese reissue

 

Mariah LP reissued by Palto Flats

Mariah LP reissued by Palto Flats

Utakata No Hibi by Mariah is one of those records that you can’t believe exists until you see and hear it. There is a huge interest in Japanese music and it continues to grow as fetishistic record enthusiasts covet and search for this type of grail.

Well heads up, it’s just been reissued and is available from a range of retailers. Check out the track below to gain an insight of just how magical the productions on this gem are.