August 27th, 2008


Oorutaichi: the future of music

Wonderful though some of the music I YouTubed yesterday was -- empathetic, memorable, well-crafted -- musically it was fairly backward-looking and grammatically conservative; this wasn't a selection that inspired much confidence in the idea of pop as an artform with a future. So today I thought I'd serve you up some fresh, future-facing talent and -- why not, it's been a while! -- some music emerging from the Japanese underground, stuff I find exciting and encouraging. I picked an Osaka-based "elfin wizard of digital fuckery" (thanks, Pitchfork!) who started making music in 1999 under the name of Oorutaichi.

To my surprise I discovered that several of the biographies of Oorutaichi say I've collaborated with him. He's "rubbed shoulders with Kenji Haino and Ruins, collaborated with oddball popsters Momus and Taku Hannoda, and been producing his solo take on pop since 1999," says CD Baby, while Macaroni Records assures its readers that he's "performed with domestic and international artists such as FREEFORM, MAURICE FULTON, MOMUS, KEIJI HAINO, RUINS, FUMIYA TANAKA." A bit of googling revealed that this flattering (but forgotten) "collaboration" was nothing more than a gig we played together in Kyoto on July 2nd 2003. And I actually missed Oorutaichi's set that night because some "kind" soul fed my girlfriend about seven tequilas and I found her sprawled unconscious on the floor of the toilet. She had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.

I would love to collaborate with Oorutaichi, though, because his music sounds new to me, now, the way Neu! and La Dusseldorf and Can and Faust probably sounded to David Bowie in 1977. Oorutaichi light-signals an eccentric but credible way pop music could get out of its tedious retro necro rut: by developing a new formal vocabulary which would make all comparisons with the past immaterial.

His first proper commercial album release, Drifting My Folklore, came out in November 2007. It reminds me of Yximalloo a bit, in the sense that it's one-man electronic ethnic music. I'm just about to write the CD booklet essay for Yximalloo's forthcoming Unpop album, and I definitely want to mention Oorutaichi, along with cohorts Shabushabu and Obakejaa. Once upon a time Yximalloo seemed very, very alone, but that's no longer the case -- which suggests to me that his time has come, or is coming soon.

You can hear the whole of Oorutaichi's Drifting My Folklore album at Stumble Audio (though it's a site that goes down a lot). The most Yximallo-ish track is probably Beshaby. The sampling on Hamihadarigeri has a Cornelius-Fantasma or Holger Hiller feel. You can work out to Misen Gymnastics. Enjoy -- and remember, you may not be able to whistle this stuff in the bath (though it is covertly melodic), but it's a fantastic kosmische trip, an electronic guide, a harbinger, a sort of Virgil leading pop music into a place where it can stave off -- for several more decades -- its otherwise-imminent museumification. I may never collaborate with Oorutaichi, but I salute him. He's giving music a future.

1. Yori Yoyo
2. Beshaby
3. Chusan
4. Misen Gymnastics
5. Hamihadarigeri
6. Boo Shan Boo
7. Pan 1 Nonaki
8. Uiui-Mar-Chan
9. Jimaji
10. Bii!tan