So there`s a tale, a memory, attached to this particular recently reissued tune, Kuniyuki`s Flying Music. When I moved to Tokyo for a while I was a little lost. Concerned associates back “home” made a point of sending me names and numbers of musical hook-ups – guides who might help keep me sane. One of these friends in London was a guy called Jez – better known to people who populated the DJHistory forum as Cash_Or_Exchange.
Jez had done a stint in over here teaching English and for a brief moment had inadvertently become a TV celebrity. Jez and I both contributed to a blog called Horse Latitudes – and when he jumped back to Japan for a short visit we naturally got together for some record digging and beer. On one of those trips we met up with a few of his old mates in a yakitori bar in Ebisu – a group of Japanese DJs who he`d bonded with while dancing to U.F.O. at Club Blue. These chaps had a residency in a cafe / bar called Pikey`s, in Daikanyama – a hip part of town full of youngsters and up-and-coming fashion houses, teetering toward the higher end. The only store I recognized was Silas & Maria. We all got along famously and these fine fellows, I guess swept up in the moment and a politeness that’s uniquely Japanese, invited me to join them one Friday night. Desperate for opportunities to play, and to make new friends, I didn’t hesitate with my “yes” but I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know Daikanyama, didn’t know the venue, and to be honest, I hadn’t worked out what kind of music they were into.
This was the end of 2007, start of 2008, but even so when I got to Pikey`s I was the only mug dragging a trolley load of records – the only one not playing on CDJs. The music they were into turned out to be minimal, and it was all seamlessly, perfectly mixed. You know the kind of techno that in the right hands is a tool. I think it was Derrick May who used to bang on about finding “the third record”, somewhere in the synergy of the other 2. My immediate reaction was “fuck”. Being the guest I got the last slot – no pressure – and this being Tokyo meant I`d be starting at around 4 or 5AM. So I had a good solid 6 hours of drinking ahead of me before stepping up to bat.
Kuniyuki`s Flying Music was the first tune that I played. It was the closest thing I had to “minimal” (1), and it was something that might potentially allow me to “transition” into a set more cosmic / balearic aligned – plus it`s 18 minutes long, which gave me plenty of time to think / panic. Its percussive dubbed, blurred Basic Channel-esque purr of click and static gradually giving way to a highlife guitar loop. Hypnotic, and invoking Manuel Gottsching, Ash Ra Temple gone house. The baritone French poetry intoning deep into echo (2). Even when straight the effect had me feeling so stoned that I couldn’t attempt to translate. Eight minutes in and the horns hit. Telling their story – a way after midnight, romantic, sad, noir. Then before you know it another 7 minutes have passed. Only coming to, out of your trance, as the syncopation fades and falls away, the 6-strings still ringing.
While Kuniyuki was doing his thing I`d dropped down out of sight, rifling through records, hidden in the booth. Flicking through 12s hoping to hear the scream and shout of some sort of plan. I must of been down there quite a while, `cos when I popped back up they’d rearranged the dance floor. All the chairs that Pikey`s could muster now formed a horseshoe, a theatre-like round, facing the decks, and me. Everyone in attendance was sat watching and listening, waiting to see what I`d do next (3).
Kuniyuki`s Flying Music has been reissued by Mulemusiq.
(1) Another tune that turned out to be just as useful in these tricky “transition” states was Jichael Mackson`s Chris Isaak shape-shifting The Grass Is Always Greener.
(2) The voice is actually that of another friend, Alex From Tokyo – running down his best juju voodoo.
(3) This was so fucking funny that I obviously burst out laughing and then played whatever I wanted until around 8 or 9. I ended up joining them every Friday and the Pikey`s crew became firm friends. When the bar eventually closed, they instead joined me and Tokyo Matt Best at our Right Right Right nights at Bar Jam, and they all crashed at my house in the mountains for perhaps the best NYE I’ve ever had. The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and accompanying Fukushima fallout however made everyone take stock, and most of them said goodbye to the city, starting new lives on farms and communes down south.
I actually met Kuniyuki, with Jez, while he was on this same trip. Jez had connections to Soul Jazz and Takahashi-Sensei had a brace of records he wanted the shop / label to hear and perhaps sign. Both of us were both a bit in awe as he appeared out of the crowds at Shibuya station. He handed us the 12s and was gone.