gung-ho godzilla groupie 

Ninja Tune Zen TV II Timetable up

Just a quick one to let you know that the timetable for this Friday's Ninja Tune extravaganza (see here for an earlier post) is now up on the Beatink website.

As always, there are a couple of annoying clashes, but that's kind of inevitable when you have multiple quality acts spread over three stages in a single night. The big three don't overlap, though. I think I'm going to be aiming for DK, then 30mins of Daedelus, then Matt Black's DJ set, then the first half of Jon More's DJ set, then probably the entirety of the Hexstatic, Coldcut and Kentaro sets in the main hall. Possibly I'll squeeze in little trips to the Spank Rock live set, if only to catch a glimpse of their much-vaunted Air Cock Thrust manoeuvre (don't ask; click if you must, but don't ask) in the raw. Also I'd quite like to catch bits of Skalpel and Rainstick Orchestra. And Dom. Ok, fine: I want to see EVERYONE. Curse this whole being-in-one-place-at-one-time thing.

If you don't already have tickets, grab 'em while you can. I think Lawson and Ticket Pia stop selling them a couple of days before the gig, so go go go.

Posted by chris at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Byte Size 060401 at Bar Aoyama

Fans of fucked-up laptop techno should get along to Bar Aoyama tonight for Byte Size 060401.

Not sure I'll be able to make it, as I'm now very firmly installed on the sofa with a pile of magazines to read through while the missus is out at a hen night. That's how we mice live it up here at Tokyo Tales Towers when the cat's away: The Economist, Empire, and Edge.

Posted by chris at 06:21 PM | Permalink

Ninja Tune "Zen TV II" night at Ageha, April 7th

A quick clubbing alert for all you Tokyo Ninjas: you'll want to make the trek out to Ageha in Shin-Kiba (I know, I know, but it'll be worth it) on Friday April 7th for a massive Ninja Tune night of block-rocking breaks and beats: Zen TV II.

The line-up is as follows:

We saw Coldcut at Electraglide last November, and they put on a great show, including a tantalising five-minute slice of DJ Kentaro, who was excellent - can't wait to see him do a full set.

The Ageha website is, maddeningly and inexplicably in this age of CSS and cross-device design, Flash-only, so I can't point you directly to the listing page. To save you wading in through the three (three! count 'em!) separate "Skip Intro" movies, I can tell you that doors open at 22:00; tickets are ¥6,000 on the door or ¥5,500 in advance and can be bought from Ticket Pia (P-code 220-679) or those funky Lawson convenience store vending machines (L-code 38656). There's a shuttle bus service from Shibuya starting at 23:00 and running two or three times an hour until 28:00; see the site - sorry - for more details.

I did actually have a photocopy of a flyer with the complete timetable on it around here somewhere, but I seem to have lost it. Oops. If it turns out I just left it at the office, maybe I'll update tomorrow. So please, people, hold on until then. (Yes, yes, I know.)

Posted by chris at 07:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Underworld's Electraglide 2005 performance to be released on limited-edition CD

I was planning to mention this earlier - much earlier, as I've actually had tickets for a month and a bit now - but I'm going to Electraglide this Friday. Electraglide is a dance music mini-festival held every November at a large convention center in eastern Tokyo (Chiba, actually, but who's counting?). In recent years, there's been a second leg added the next night in Osaka, with most of the same acts.

This year's lineup is one of the best yet:

  • Underworld
  • Autechre
  • Carl Cox
  • Coldcut
  • Towa Tei
  • Vitalic
  • Ken Ishii
  • Chris Cunningham
... and those are just the ones I can remember off-hand.

Underworld have played the event a couple of times; I was fortunate enough to make it to the first Electraglide, back in 2000, which they also headlined. The 2000 lineup is widely regarded as the best ever (Underworld, Orbital, Richie Hawtin, Two Lone Swordsmen), but I think this might just top it - I'm very excited about Carl Cox, in particular, as it was one of his sets at Cream in Liverpool, once upon a time, that really got me turned on to proper clubbing in the first place. I've seen him since, most recently at Yellow in Nishi Azabu a couple of years ago, but this is going to be different - 20,000 screaming punters different.

I also saw Underworld at Electraglide 2003 (not to mention the Liquid Room in 2000), but couldn't get right down into the throng as a friend I was with had a broken ankle and didn't fancy mixing it with 15,000 sweaty, rowdy, Shimo-kitazawa boys. Nor could I particularly blame him.

The only pisser about Electraglide each year is access to Makuhari Messe... it's a real arse to get to. Half an hour by express train from Toyko Station - which is fine in the grand scheme of things, but when your girlfriend is finishing work half an hour in the opposite direction from Shinjuku (i.e. as diametrically on the opposite side of Tokyo from Chiba as one can get) at 9pm, which is when the first act starts... well, it leaves you wishing it were a wee bit more central.

And then, when you're standing, exhausted, on Kaihin Makuhari station platform at 6am the following (late November) morning, freezing your bits off waiting for the next train back to Tokyo with 20,000 other revellers, knowing it will take you at least an hour and a half to reach your own bed, you stop merely wishing it were a wee bit more central and start questioning your own sanity.

So I think we'll be getting a hire car this time.

But anyway, the big Electraglide-related news is that Underworld will:
a) be doing a mammoth 3-hour live set,
b) recording it, and
c) selling it as a limited-edition 3CD set, exclusively to Electraglide 2005 attendees.

Details are on the Electraglide site, hidden in a pop-up, which I have hacked open for your convenience here. Bascially you need to download a form and take it with you to the event, hand it over with ¥3,000 and they deliver the CDs to you a couple of weeks later. Yoosh!

So, yes, massively looking forward to it, should be an awesome night. And if, by any chance, Karl Hyde should be reading this, I'd just like to say ありがとう for all the great tunes and club nights. And I'm sorry if I scowled at you (at least I think it was you) across the crowded bar when you played the Liquid Room in April 2000. It's just my default look - I was actually very very happy.

Further reading: Recent Metropolis interview with Karl Hyde (not a permalink, may expire)
Underworld live
Electraglide 2005

Posted by chris at 12:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Maniac Love, Aoyama, to close in December

No! Please no! I just dropped by the Maniac Love homepage only to find that they're closing in a couple of weeks' time. Say it ain't so!

Maniac Love is one of the oldest and best loved clubs in Tokyo. It's tiny, but has consistently been one of the best places in town for a night of full-on techno. Opened in 1993, it occupies the basement of an unassuming building tucked down a semi-residential sidestreet off Kotto-dori in Aoyama, and has always had a problem with noisy revellers coming and going. It's the only club I've ever been to where they have door staff prowling the surrounding streets, intercepting approaching clubbers and asking them to keep it down on their way in. Plus a NASA-grade airlock policy on the (heavily soundproofed) front doors. I don't know if noise considerations were a factor in the decision to close, maybe affecting their licensing, but will see what I can dig up.

The place is also justifiably famous for its after-hours parties, which continue through until late morning. The entry price is reduced after 5am, and there was always a bottomless pot of free coffee on the bar. Ah, the memories. I haven't been for a while, but I'm going to bust a gut to get to one of the last nights. If you've never been, then this appears to be your last chance to catch a Tokyo institution. See you on the floor, you Maniac Lovers.

Maniac Love, Aoyama - final schedule

  • Monday Nov. 28th - Thursday Dec. 1st, free entry each night, 7pm -12am.
  • Friday Dec. 2nd, from 9pm, ¥3,500 / ¥2,000 after 5am
  • Saturday Dec. 3rd, from 9pm, ¥4,000 / ¥2,000 after 5am

Posted by chris at 09:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Exclusive(ish): Plaid playing tonight in Nishi Azabu

Urgent clubbing alert: Are you free tonight (Monday October 31st)? Get down to Bullet's in Nishi Azabu to see Plaid, everybody's favourite British minimal techno duo they've never heard of.

Seriously, though, these guys are ace. I saw them at Electraglide a few years ago and they were awesome. The music's great, actually very dancy at times, and their visuals were fantastic. Not sure what kind of set they'll be doing tonight, but I plan to find out.

Starting from 9ish, a little bird tells me. See you there... Thanks to skab/t for the tip!

Posted by chris at 06:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


Ah, that's *so* much better. Take all the frustrations and stress points of the last week, roll them up in a tight little ball, take that ball clubbing and leave it somewhere in the midst of 900 sweaty, heaving bodies dancing themselves witless to the sounds of three relentlessly full-on drum'n'bass DJs.

Works for me, anyway.

Posted by chris at 04:57 AM | Permalink

Pocari? Sweet.

I'm sure there are other, more worthwhile things I could be doing on a Sunday, rather than just sitting here rehydrating myself (thank you, pocari sweat) after the previous night's revelry.

None spring to mind, though.

Posted by chris at 06:53 PM | Permalink

Electraglide 2001

Phew - busy busy busy. There's been a lot going on this week, and as usual my attempts to write most of it down have run into difficulties. I blame Dan for encouraging me to go out boozing most nights this week. Design Festa write-up coming soonish, I swear - and the rest. Sheesh.

But anyway, just a quickie to say that tonight we're off to Makuhari Messe (out towards Chiba) for Electraglide, a mini-festival of assorted techno, held in an aircraft hangar-sized exhibition hall. Last year the line-up was Orbital, Underworld, Two Lone Swordsmen and Richie Hawtin, and I seriously damaged my knees by bouncing around on the concrete floor all night. Ow. Give me the sprung wooden dancefloor of the Liquid Room any night - but anyway.

This year we've got FatBoy Slim (rude not to, really), Aphex Twin (caught his full-on drill'n'bass set at Fuji last year, massively looking forward to more of the same - Dan is an apprehensive Aphex virgin... god help him...), Laurent Garnier (Monsieur French techno), Plaid (Scots techno guys on Warp), Mouse on Mars (eclectic German techno melange) and a couple of others. It all runs on until 7am - I can see Saturday being rather... relaxed.

Posted by chris at 05:43 PM | Permalink

Richie Hawtin / Final Scratch / Electraglide 2001

Good article on Richie Hawtin's new DJing method here - playing music files on his Sony VAIO's hard drive and controlling them with standard turntables, by means of special vinyl records. I remember seeing him using a VAIO at his Fuji Rock Festival gig this year, and wondering then what it was for... and now I know. You'll be glad to know it works really well, too - though I can't see, say, Jimmy Saville making the switch any time soon.

Other club news... got my tickets for Electraglide next month; FatBoy Slim, Aphex Twin, Laurent Garnier, Mouse on Mars, Darren Emerson, Plaid and a few others in a convention hall the size of Belgium on November 30th. Yum. I would link the gig's site for you, but there doesn't appear to be anything out there. Let's just imagine instead: a largely shoddy bilingual site plagued with bad spelling and filled with touching sentiment about the healing power of music that clearly demonstrates that the organisers have never heard Aphex Twin play live. It's easy when you know how.

Posted by chris at 10:32 AM | Permalink

White American trance kiddies

Nyeeeearrrrrrgh shneeeeerrch mmmmnyah nyah nyah.

Morning all. Hmm, 2:15pm - time to try and find some breakfast.

Went to the Liquid Room last night to see Satoshi Tomiie, a Japanese house / techno DJ. Nice deep house - very similar to how I remember Deep Dish sounding when we saw them last year (but not this year). No hangover, no pulled muscles - success.

Weirdest thing was the sheer number of trance kiddies there - massive pants, fluorescent chains, basketball vests, women's golf visors. Not dancing, though. Doing their frigging glowsticks in he lounge area, getting in people's way. On the actual dancefloor itself, one particular guy just stood stock still in the middle of the throng, like he was waiting for it to turn into a Paul van Dyk set - an oak tree in the midst of a couple of hundred bopping, grooving figures. Fair enough, maybe he was enjoying it... but I think not. A friend of his strode up to him, similarly attired, looking serious and shaking his head, and yelled something in his ear, obviously conveying some kind of bleak situation report from another part of the dance floor ("It's no good, man, it's too damn housy five meters that way, too! How are we expected to dance to this shit, man?") before striding off to the lounge. Oak nodded glumly but stayed put, perhaps swaying a bit. White American trance kiddies - you get my vote for least funky people on the planet.

Right, the afternoon's getting on and I've got a date with a hoagie, a newspaper, some greenery and a two-wheeled fun machine. Laters.

Posted by chris at 02:41 PM | Permalink

Blue notes

I really needed last night: an out-of-the-blue trip to Blue, appropriately enough, in Minami-Aoyama. It's a great little club, although I always have reservations about the music on a Saturday. It's generally just plain odd - drum'n'bass for five minutes, then suddenly a bit of salsa, then jazz, then drum'n'bass again, then acid jazz, then eighties power-chord rock. Nice enough for background listening, perhaps, but hardly easy to dance to - though at least if you don't like it you can wait five minutes and be pretty sure it'll have changed. It is, essentially, a club for people who don't go clubbing; compared to most of the crowd on the dancefloor, I actually resemble far less of a badly coordinated crash-test dummy than usual - everything's relative, after all.

Still, last night the DJs surprised me. It was, indeed, mainly a bizarre mix of jazzy trumpets, LTJ Bukem-style, mellow drum'n'bass and plodding Bon Jovi-esque drum lines, but thankfully they couldn't keep it up for long and went instead for a couple of extended periods of drum'n'bass and even (gasp) techno near the end of the night. UFO playing straight-ahead techno? What's the world coming to? Well, whatever it is, I hope it happens quickly.

We met a few JET teachers from Saitama, the prefecture just north of Tokyo where I used to live and work; one of them was, in yet another coincidence of earth-shattering proportions, from Harrow, and worked in Watford (my "home town", for want of a better phrase). We went for breakfast with them afterwards, and they seem like a genuinely nice bunch of people, so hopefully we'll meet up for some more clubbing in the near future.

If it sounds like a bland night, devoid of racy encounters and lacking watermelon-smashing in the street or police intervention, then that's because it was. A nice night. Nice club. Nice people. Nice breakfast. And not in the bland, ineffectual sense of the word, either - just, you know... nice. Alright? Good.

Posted by chris at 03:09 AM | Permalink

Under construction

Ok - in my quest for Tokyo bars with Web sites, I'm going to add Fai to my links page. But it's only reluctantly, because it's a prime example of a piss-poor failure of a wannabe bilingual Flash site. Areas "under construction", the Japanese text is in a badly defined character set and because it's Flash I can't be clever and change my browser's encoding manually, and there are a bunch of other pissy little things wrong with it. Many missed opportunities.

Which is a shame, as the bar's really nice. I ought to volunteer to sort something out for them, really, and I will - just as soon as someone finds a way to squeeze 48 hours into every single day.

Posted by chris at 11:07 PM | Permalink


Last night was a study in serendipity. Wandering past the Liquid Room at 24:30, on our way somewhere else, we (two friends, said friends' passing-through-on-a-stopover friend and I) noticed a long queue; it turned out that Takkyu Ishino (whose first name - and I swear I am not making this up - means "table tennis") was DJing... so we went in.

What a good night. It was busy, but there was still plenty of space to dance (if you can call it that, in my case) to the furiously fast and enjoyable techno - and the crowd were friendly, too. Only two glowstickers, thank goodness. Again, it's a free world, of course, but standing in the middle of the bar (not the dancefloor itself, you understand - oh no) looking like you're trying to marshall extremely fidgety helicopter traffic while sucking a fluorescent yellow dummy isn't my idea of fun. Kids these days, etc. Pass me my slippers, bad cardigan and copy of the Daily Mail.

I think Nick (the visiting friend-of-friends) really enjoyed it; Liquid Room was one of the places he'd heard of before coming to Tokyo, so it was good that we were able to introduce him to it. The 8-storey marathon queue ("what - we're only on the 5th floor? shit") is always worth it for the tunes and great views of Kabukicho.

Met a very nice Japanese girl called Aya, who introduced me to an Israeli friend of hers: "This is <name> - he is Jude-ish". That one took longer to figure out than it should have, but hey, it was 3:30am by this point. She nearly wrecked a promising friendship by horrendously misguessing my age (don't even ask), but apart from that we got on like the proverbial burning abode.

Got home at 4am to a flurry of e-mails and AIMs, trying to sort out travel plans for July - more on that later. Spoke briefly to el parents; Mum expressed disapproval at my being up so late ("I'm twenty-five, Mum") and Dad told me that he'd arrived home from work to find that Andrew had stolen his car, which is more powerful than his own and therefore better suited to joy-riding around the country lanes of Hertfordshire's green belt. Life as usual in Watford, then.

Posted by chris at 05:02 PM | Permalink

Broken breakfast

Mnyah mnyah mnyuh. 4pm... breakfast.... still got some Drifters left over from Andy's visit - problem solved.

Yellow last night was excellent - great house music, space to dance, beautiful people and good friends. More on that later - gotta dash to meet Raju and whip his butt at pool. Any vestigal traces of modesty or self-depricatory manner are somehow shed - I'm going to cane him today, I can feel it. Yeah. Bring it on.

Posted by chris at 04:06 PM | Permalink

Beautiful space, rarely crowded

I'm going to have to rethink my caption for the Womb link on my links page: "Beautiful space, rarely crowded". Hah. The first two times I went there it was, indeed, almost empty. Last night, though, there wasn't even room to take your rucksack off in order to remove the damn cat, let alone swing it. The place was rammed tighter than the Saikyo line during rush hour - who were all these people in my new favourite club?

It wouldn't really have mattered if there hadn't been the odd pillock dancing against the flow. I'm not normally one to deride others for being individual (especially considering my alien status in this largely monoethnic country), but if everyone else is dancing facing north, why face east and swing your shoulders around aggressively unless you actually want to start a fight? I don't go clubbing so that I can feel hostile towards people - if I wanted that, I'd read more newspaper articles about Japan's largely incompetent and explicitly racist police force. Or maybe just listen to Britney Spears.

Aaaaanyway. The club was great, despite the clamour. Messrs May and Saunderson were superb; I was almost reluctant to leave when we did (about 4am) as it just seemed to be getting better and better.

By that time we had moved upstairs, to a table overlooking the heaving sardines two floors below. The dancefloor at Womb is a three-storey-high space, from the first floor upwards. The second and third floors have bars, comfy seats and full-length glass windows overlooking the dancefloor, so you can hear all the music, get a better view of the lightshow and yet still hear yourself think - and other people talk. If you can hear other people think, then I suggest you see a psychiatrist immediately. Or keep quiet about it and ask them leading questions.

Then it was time for a shared taxi through the streets of Tokyo, racing (or trying to race - too much traffic) to make it home before dawn lest we all turn into pumpkins. Marvellous.

Posted by chris at 07:50 PM | Permalink

Derrick May @ Womb

Okay, can't stop; just back from post-work drinks, time for the briefest of showers before dashing off to Shibuya to see the godfather of Detroit, Derrick May. I know it's rather short notice, but if anyone else is going to be in the area, you could do worse than drop into Womb - promises to be a great night. Bye.

Posted by chris at 09:26 PM | Permalink

drinks subway shower change bar club

friday post work drinks subway across town home shower change meet friends bar drinks meet more friends club drink techno shuffle ken ishii better techno dance enjoy faster kraftwerk samples more better rei harakami mellow disjointed techno slowly more danceable quite full on more drinks fumiya tanaka background techno tequila shots sunrise over tokyo hits us on eighth floor bliss wander downstairs taxi home on the way fifteen crows pecking and fighting over rubbish bags my flat home computer on blogger post and publish shut down futon sleep dream of all tomorrow's parties

Posted by chris at 06:22 AM | Permalink

Mania Clove

Tired but happy. Saturday night was excellent - good people, nice atmosphere, plenty of booze, grand tunes and pancakes for breakfast.

Womb was great, and a small hardcore ended up moving on to Maniac Love in Aoyama for the restart - after 5am it's only a grand (£6) to get in, and you get all the coffee you can ingest. They are absolutely paranoid about noise levels, though. The doormen actually intercept approaching revellers in the street outside the club, asking them to shush. They also operate an airlock system as you enter and leave, which is fair enough - but with such po-faced seriousness. Lighten up, for heaven's sake.

Tangent: whenever I see the URL for Maniac Love's web site, I can't help but interpret it as "mania clove". This may not actually be very important.

Got to bed at 8:30, in the end, and slept till about 2pm. I was pleasantly surprised to wake up and realise that I had already bought today's paper on the way back from the station - autopilot is a marvellous thing. No hangover, either - just felt a little tired for the rest of the day, but that's hardly surprising, really. The walk back from the video rental shop knackered me out - I need to do something to boost my energy levels other than just consuming lots of caffeinated drinks, I think. Sleeeeep...

Posted by chris at 12:27 AM | Permalink

A couple of the sounds that I really like

Saturday night is most definitely not alright for fighting, kids.

Drinking and dancing with your peers at a fashionable "discotheque", however, is perfectly acceptable.

Tonight is Sarah's birthday party, so we're hitting the Hub in Shibuya (I hope everybody turns up to the right one) and making our way, somehow, to Womb (also in Shibuya). Womb was practically deserted last time we went, to see Ko Kimura a few months ago - which was excellent. Plenty of space, no queues at the bar: nearly perfect. I hear that they've got a later license these days so it could well be more lively. It's a nice club.

Tonight is DJ Kensei, who I understand is a good breakbeats / techno DJ. Might also be seeing him next week, if I can get tickets to the Liquid Room... must make sure I get out of bed before the ticket agency closes tomorrow (ie. about 7pm).

Posted by chris at 06:07 PM | Permalink

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