Chee Shimizu`s Japanism project continues a pace. Picking up quickly from Yasuaki Shimizu`s Re-Subliminal, with Individual Beauty by Colored Music. The duo of Atsuo Fujimoto and Ichiko Hashimoto having initially been the focus of Japanism`s inaugural 7”. Between the CD and 2×12 formats there are eleven tracks. The package featuring previously unreleased versions of titles from Colored Music`s sole, 1981, LP and the pair`s early `80s solo releases. Plus hitherto unheard recordings from their archives. The set divided between uptempo shots of Post-Punk Disco-Not-Disco, New Wave Funk, and “Avant” ambience. The former dancing right alongside Yasuaki`s Tamare Tamare. Pitting live bass against rumbling, bubbling, synthesised counterparts. Incorporating traditional timbres and harmonies. White hot guitar riffs (think 23 Skidoo`s Vegas El Bandito) and clanking metallic percussion. Ensemble vocals and marching drums. The latter managing to mix the more mediative electronic moments of Haroumi Hosono`s back catalogue, with his take on Exotica. Waveform winds and binary birdsong. Holographic harps. Serenades sung over popping machines and Italian Prog Rock soundtrack sequences. Bali Hai`s on strange uneven paths. Ichiko`s vocals no doubt bringing comparisons with Dip In The Pool.
The standout for me is Kitsune. A slow seduction of wood blocks and expanded chimes. Sounding simultaneously ancient and modern. Predicting the musical science of Visible Cloaks and Fatima Al Qadiri.
*Please note that the above clip is the version of Kitsune included on Ichiko Hashimoto`s solo album, Beauty, and not the one on the Japanism collection – though the overall “vibe” is the same.
Kitsune is Japanese for “fox”. According to Japan`s folklore, a genus of shape-shifting tricksters, con men and women. Creatures I continue to have a fascination for.
When I lived in Tokyo, one of my favourite spots was a small shrine, close to my then home in Bunkyo-Ku, that was full of stone foxes. A few were life size, but about them crowded hundreds of tiny figures. Spirits trapped in white porcelain. Their red ears and proud tails chipped and cracked by weather and time. Someone told me recently that these “fox shrines” were actually a cover for christianity. From the Sixteenth through to the Nineteenth Century. When the Shogunate prohibited the religion and persecuted its practitioners. But in my ignorance it was a site of magic. A secret. Hidden behind the busy streets of commerce that rush around Tokyo Dome Stadium.
The Japanese call a spring shower, Kitsune No Yomeiri. A “fox wedding”. Legend having the animals summoning rain on a fine day. To drive unwanted humans inside, and allow their ceremony some privacy. To be kidnapped by foxes is Kadowakatsu. Living in the city, when I was still drinking heavily, I would light out for the night in the hope that this might happen to me. That an enchanted encounter might bring some unexpected adventure into the evenings proceedings. To my knowledge it never happened. Unless foxes were responsible for dumping me, comatose, in taxi cabs, and toilet stalls. Gutters, shop doorways, and holding cells. Wallet-less in love hotels.
Colored Music`s Individual Beauty is a Japan-only release, but you can order a copy directly from Chee here.