Left Ear’s selection of Antipodean Anomalies brings us special music from an “isolating” place

The wait is finally over and Left Ear’s compilation of music from Australia and New Zealand – made in a “unique” time and space in the 1970s and 1980s – is finally here…and these Antipodean Anomalies sound like nothing else.

Compiled by Left Ear Record’s own Chris Bonato and  Umut Turkeri, tracks such as Rainbow Generator’s City Of The Sun is a psychedelic walkabout and is anchored by Balearic ramblings about the beach – but it is the more traditional sounding instrumentation and melodies that elevate this beyond mere new-wave, post-punk or leftfield music.

The duo at Left Ear Records explain how these lesser-known artists have constructed such culturally fused and unique visions in their compositions:

“For musicians inhabiting the Antipodean countries of Australia and New Zealand during the 70’s and 80’s, it was a geographically and culturally isolating environment. Boutique shops, community radio and mail order exchanges championed independent and contemporary music from across the globe. It was, however, this isolation that caused a number of small community-focused scenes to evolve, creating their own unique interpretation and reappropriation of outside influences. Through both these scenes and government initiatives, a vast amount of music emerged on self-released and independent labels.

“Yet, even among small scenes that were creating unique sounds, a number of artists seemed to be making music that was neither here nor there, often meshing together numerous genres and influences to create anomalous sounds.

“Artists like Olev Muska along with Ingrid Slamer meshed traditional folk songs of their Estonian heritage with cutting edge computer technology. Ngahiwi Apanui used his native language of Te Reo and a “cheap drum machine” to create a pulsating tale that highlights the creation of Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand); while the Free Radicals would sing through PVC pipes to construct their vision of post-apocalyptic tribal music. Sydney’s Nic Lyon used his classical training to craft a distinctive gem which matched eastern and African influenced instruments with synchopated drum machines, while artists like Delaney Venn and Toy Division managed to challenge their post-punk sensibilities by blending both dub and atmospheric sounds respectively.”

Once again Left Ear have shown their expert curation and diversity, although looking closer to their Melbourne home than with recent releases – having reissued Kingsley Bucknor’s electro-disco from Nigeria, undiscovered synth legend Omer Coleman (also Starship Commander Woo Woo), fellow U.S countrymen Workdub and their brand of dub experiments, Shahara-Ja’s soulful electro, Yoruba Singers of Guyana, the spaced out jazz-funk of Thesda, the rapso of Brother Resistance, Minoru Hoodoo Fushimi’s blend of Japanese tradition and electro-funk, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Andre Tanker.

Left Ear have also reissued Antipodean artists, including Peter Westheimer and Leong Lau, the latter just receiving a much needed repress. The documentary below provides a window into Lau’s world. You can also click here: for more anomalies from Australia and New Zealand.

Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi inteview – Japanese translation

It was one of the highlights of 2017 on Left Ear Records. Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi’s In Praise of Mitochondria. The great man has kindly translated his interview (he did with WTM earlier this year) for our Japanese readers.

To read it: Click here.

If you missed it first time, visit the WTM Japan section.

Minoru’s music featured in World Treasures Music ‘best of the year’ show. Uploading tomorrow.

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.

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.