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So, 1998, what are you up to? - click opera — LiveJournal
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Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 03:41 am
So, 1998, what are you up to?

I don't often use my DV camera these days, but I dusted it off the other day to record a self-interview for a documentary Jim Burns is making about the BMX Bandits. While the antique device was plugged in, I grabbed some sequences from a random tape in my DV library; scenes from one of my two 1998 trips to Japan. I've put these up on YouTube. Ten years is an interesting interval.



Kahimi Karie at 3D Corporation being interviewed (with me) for Rockin' On magazine. A taxi to the office of H magazine in the Infoss Tower, Shibuya. Nudy Milky Wax. The Nippon Columbia Building, giving interviews about The Little Red Songbook. A typical Tokyo map. Restaurants. Kimono patterns in Aoyama. The Floracion Hotel, Aoyama. A DJ event featuring Silicom. A Hippopotamomus watch. Time remaining: one million hours. Engrish: "Please enjoy your rich time". Jacking a Palm Pilot into an ISDN / Analog data line in a public phone box. With then-girlfriend Riho in an Aoyama shop dedicated to Chinese movies and posters. Hinano Yoshikawa advertising GPS units. People with Nintendo Gameboys on the train. Super Loose socks. Visit to Riho's friends' house in the suburbs. Buying beer in a supermarket. A family shrine containing "Buddhist Koran". Alice in Wonderland clock and Egon Schiele reproduction. Takashi Homma-style suburbia. Faye Wong record sleeves. Home cooking, Fatboy Slim records, then traditional Japanese music concert on TV. Street cooking served from the back of a van. Tsutaya video store. An eki-ben -- boxed train food -- on the shinkansen. Passengers on the platform, men in red boiler suits at work underneath it. Arrive in Gunma prefecture. GPS on the car dash. Baroque supasento by the roadside. Enormous indoor golf building. Mount Haruna-San. A gallery of trompe l'oeuil.



At the Ikaho-jinja Shrine with Riho. The steps of Ishidan-gai, the main drag of the Ikaho-onsen. "A hot springs resort is a place for lovers and also dirty people who have affairs with geishas," Riho tells me. Ultraman statue. Somebody trying to balance a ball on a red umbrella. Hotel Endless. Riho's family and "scary cat". Riho's father reading my father's book about fishing, The River Within. Eating gyoza at 3D Corporation, Kahimi Karie's management company. Watching a live video of Kahimi Karie's show in front of 2000 people earlier that year. Toog and I were in her backing band. Kahimi Karie and Momus interviews from the concert video. Kahimi talks about her fear of singing live, I say she's "three times more confident now" than when she used three mics. A Cornelius concert at Ebisu Gardens Place. Fake German beerhall and French palace. A glimpse of Jun de Nelorie from The Nelories in a pink jacket. Cornelius merchandise and 3D glasses. Support band Seagull Screaming Kiss Her wearing X-Girl dresses. Fantastic World Tour graphics and theremin solos. Cornelius arrives onstage. "Ape shall never kill ape". Shots of Keigo Oyama, Horie on guitar, Yuko Araki on drums. Maestro beatbox and theremin solo: Beethoven's Ode To Joy.


The first thing I did after watching the second of these videos was check out Yuko Araki's MySpace page. She's making quite interesting music these days, sparse and quirky songs with a Buffalo Daughter or Cibo Matto feel, under the name mi-gu. In other words, she carries "1990s DNA", but I think she's taken it somewhere quite fresh. The track Floating even features the Maestro drum box which you can hear in the Cornelius live show, and which was such a big part of my sound in 1998 too (via samples). It's even possible that the mi-gu songs were recorded in the studio in the 3-D building, and that this is the sound of that same Cornelius Maestro beatbox we all used (and sampled) back in the day. Family!



So what else has changed, a decade later? Kahimi Karie has renounced her mainstream audience (there's no way she'd fill a 2000 capacity hall these days) but continues to make music. Like many of the Shibuya-kei people, she also blogs about eco- and post-materialist themes for MYLOHAS (quite a similar career path to mine, in other words, though of course she's much prettier). She was spotted recently at Narziß, the Tokyo party "for exquisite and arrogant dandiacals", which just called it a day after 21 parties. She's seen in the photo here with photographer Zoren Gold, who shot some of her sleeves.

H magazine is still published from the Infoss Tower (which opened in 1998, the year I visited it), but has cut down from eight issues a year to just four. To my mind it hasn't transitioned well to this decade -- editorially, this magazine founded in 1994 is still very much stuck in the 90s. The Infoss Tower has been in the news a lot recently because porn actress Ai Iijima died there in (possibly) suspicious circumstances just before Christmas. Silicom's Aoki Takamasa (seen DJing in the video) has since relocated to Berlin, where he's living in Ryuichi Sakamoto's apartment, recording a new album for Sakamoto's label Commmons. His new work still has the sharp-edged, tightly-controlled sound of Silicom, but he's singing over it.

People don't use Palm Pilots any more, and certainly don't jack them into analogue phone lines in public phone boxes. Nintendo Gameboys are no longer seen in massed ranks on the trains, replaced by surfing keitais. I don't see too many GPS units in cars here in Europe, even ten years later.

Super-loose socks are out. Faye Wong faded. That Chinese films store in Aoyama is no longer there, and the vogue for Chinese films doesn't really exist in the same way it did in 1998. Model Hinano Yoshikawa disappeared totally for a few years, then came back (as did Hiromix). Fatboy Slim slimmed way down, then made a slight return as The Brighton Port Authority. Cornelius has a much lower profile now than he did ten years ago. Japanese consumer culture in general (see these charts for magazine sales figures, for instance) has taken a big recessionary hit. Some say Japan has entered a new period of cultural isolation. Kimono shops, baroque sentos and golf ranges, however, still do well. My ex Riho now works as a photo researcher in Tokyo.

38CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
What is the song at 9:11 of second video?

I like the format. of video. Mr. Momus, how can you be so curious about the world; I feel tired of things at 25.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 08:30 am (UTC)
Re: What is the song at 9:11 of second video?

I think this is a good question. I have wondered myself how you sustain a sense of wonder, Momus.


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bonsai_human
Bonsai Human
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)

Very nice videos. I could live without the concert footage, but the ordinary shots are quite evocative, especially the quiet ones.


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krskrft
krskrft
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 06:55 am (UTC)

GPS is big in Korea, and probably big in Japan. The trend is crossing the pond to the U.S. as well, with Ford planning to make GPS standard in all vehicles by something like 2010 I think. It seems like smaller countries do better with GPS, though, because there's far less territory to map out and keep properly updated. In the U.S., it's often the case that GPS (and online maps, and things of that sort) don't really get you where you need to go, because some little road no longer exists, or is no longer called by that name (or better yet, the signage is so poor that you wouldn't know the right road anyway).


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)

Why is tiniest font?

I finally found Joemus on bol.com. Suck on that, over-priced record stores and the fat students you hire to not sell me stuff.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 11:39 am (UTC)

Well, I look foward to your ADDulation.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)

I enjoyed watching these videos. Videos are so good at capturing and encapsulating moments while photos to me are melancholy devices the instant they are made; it felt as if I shared your stay in Japan of that year. It was a nice travel and a good video-assisted daydream. Thanks for that!

It's great to see what tech from Japan makes it into the world. Take for example the little countdown timer below the red traffic light in the second video - why has it not made its way to Germany!

-r


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)

Yes, it's super-considerate to tell you how long you have to keep waiting at a red light. I think perhaps the Germans expect the authorities to be more, well, authoritative, and to tell them (in a fairly arbitrary way) what to do and what not to do. In Japan, there's a consensus or soft power or etiquette approach to authority. There are many "authority figures" in uniform, waving you past construction sites, holding wands at road works, and so on. But they always bow to you, and images of them as cute cartoon characters might be displayed (the police mascott is Pipo-Kun, below), or sometimes they turn out to be robots (the highway police waving you past construction are often mechanical).


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)

The ISDN port on the phonebox was really interesting to see. My parents got dial-up internet when I was 10, in 1996. Did it seem quite hi-tech to you at the time?

High Places were blogging yesterday about how much the internet has changed DIY music for them. Robbie was talking about tone dialer boxes people made in the 90s which US bands would use to make free long distance calls to book tours. The phones only needed to hear a beeping sound which indicated the input of coins. Joe said he read somewhere about a hacker who learned to whistle the correct sequence to get free dial up internet.

As someone who grew up with the internet the idea of data ports on public phones and dialing up free calls is so analogue to me. I don't quite understand it but I find it really interesting. I have had to roll back to older technology at work for the first time in any job I have ever had. Most of our sales files are paper only as is the till. I had only ever used touchscreen tills until then and I have been working since I was 16.

It is really interesting to me to see how technology has shaped people I know. When I lived with my friend Scott, he was 29 and I was 19 and his first computer was a Powerbook G4. He had never had computers at school and every time he needed to learn something new on his mac I had to dictate it to him while he wrote in very neat handwriting in a little red notebook. Joe and I used to find this really charming and hilarious considering he could so easily look it up online or even just type it into a text file. He even went as far as taking analogue photos of the screen and then having them developed and pritt-sticking them in!

My friend Anna is only 2 or 3 years older than me but grew up around sattelite TV rather than computers and internet. As a result of this she was really heavily influenced by late night MTV programmes of Sonic Youth. Again although we both use the internet now and have similar interests this experience of technology is deeply ingrained. As far as I remember she doesn't have an mp3 player and still prefers cassettes.

Joe can't write a song without Cubase any more because it was his tool of choice at high school. When he had the data key stolen with his things in France last year he couldn't make music til he could afford to buy the program again even though he had plenty of instruments and various methods of recording available to him.

It was interesting to hear Joe explain how it was that you recorded various tracks for Joemus too, running various Quicktime clips at once on your desktop. Something that again seems a very analogue way of doing things.

I am curious what things that I do now will begin to seem analogue in the coming years. I've only just begun to stop using a printer now that I can bring up receipts and travel tickets on my iPhone. I'm thinking that mp3s might start to go next as I have a free beta subscription to an online radio player called Spotify which will stream quite a large selection of music to me for free without the need to go looking for a download. They have your Ocky Milk album up there. Though perhaps streaming is less easy on the environment than MP3s. I read somewhere yesterday that every Google search is the electric equivalent to boiling the kettle for a cup of tea...


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)

The ISDN port on the phonebox was really interesting to see. My parents got dial-up internet when I was 10, in 1996. Did it seem quite hi-tech to you at the time?

Well, I actually had an ISDN line put into my London flat in 1999. It was disappointing, not much faster than the modem I had before. I appeared on some BBC digital music review show that year and made a joke about Future Sound of London's album "ISDN", saying it was like having an album called "MODEM"; talk about built-in obsolescence!

I didn't get DSL till I moved to New York in 2000, and that really did make a difference.

I agree the collision of analogue and digital mindsets makes for fascinating and funny situations, although there's always a danger you'll re-invent Steampunk. My 1998 album dealt a bit with this, it made parallels between 8 bit sounds and medieval instruments.

I feel total culture shock around people who've been altered by various technologies, including cell phones. I can't deal with their concept of time. It's not because I've never had a cell phone, though, just that at a certain moment I decided they weren't for me. Then again, I find it really hard to sit through a 90 minute (or longer) film now, because my concept of time has been changed by interactive media like the internet and games.

Joe can't write a song without Cubase

I think I've feared getting into that situation, especially since every security device (dongles, keys, etc) I've ever used has ended up locking me out of software I legitimately bought for hundreds of pounds. I got into a "fuck you!" state of mind to people making complicated and expensive sequencing software because of this, and made sure I used free software; kids' programs like EZVision (for which I had to buy old computers from flea markets), free stuff like Garageband. I also try to make music with different software each time I make an album, because I think "habit is a great deadener". Then again, so is a steep learning curve, so if the new software is complicated, forget it!

It was interesting to hear Joe explain how it was that you recorded various tracks for Joemus too, running various Quicktime clips at once on your desktop. Something that again seems a very analogue way of doing things.

Well, I'd prefer the word "intuitive". Every software presupposes a certain -- usually ridiculously logical and methodical -- way of working, and just triggering files randomly with Quicktime is a way to facilitate accidents. But I did it about 100 times, and only chose the best accidents. No sequencing software has a drop-down menu entitled Accidents, unfortunately, but it's very exciting to work with them!

I just wrote my new Playground column yesterday on the theme of "So Wrong, It's Right" -- basically saying that technology is making everything sound too "right" and that we have to make things sound more "wrong". I actually think Joe is pretty brilliant at making wrong-sounding things into new ways of being right, and that's crucial to stop music getting stale.

Sometimes it seems like things go too slow -- when is the paperless office actually going to be a reality? -- but at other times things become redundant too fast. The CD, for instance, and the mp3. You then get stuck in dead formats hell, surrounded by data you can't even play any more. For a long time I couldn't play the DV tapes I posted today, because I had no DV camera. I was worried that they'd stop making them, like they've stopped making DAT and Video 8 players. My DV camera now just exists to play historic media from the years 1996 to 2004, basically, because after that I took movies straight to hard disk with a digital still camera. These "windows of relevance" seem to get shorter and shorter -- I had ISDN for less than a year, for instance.

Sometimes you just want to live in a hut and breathe and drink water and read the Bible and sing hymns.


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)

This has reminded me to do something I have meant to do for ages -- purchase one of your dad's books! Amazon had several copies - I got a "new" one for $28, but the prices for the others go as high as high as $125! (first editions?) Searching led me to this charming video. The familial resemblance is quite striking. The speech patterns, the face, the posture. Anyway, I look forward to it. I think the only book I have read about fly fishing was "A River Runs Through It" and I still remember this line from it - "Fly fishing is an art practiced between 10 and 2." I've never been fly fishing, though I do remember my Grandad's collection of hand tied flies. I've been flounder gigging a lot on the outer banks (we don't use a boat), and once in the Caymans, a local man took me out over the reef in his tiny boat to fish barracuda. I had recently seen The Godfather part 2, and at the end of the movie if you remember, Fredo is out on the lake and tells Michael's son the secret to catching fish is to say an Our Father before you cast your line -- I tried it and caught 3 huge barracuda in under an hour. The old man didn't catch a thing! He was quite pissed off at me by the time we got back to the beach. Maybe i should have let him in on my secret ;)



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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)

Searching led me to this charming video.

Wow, I've never seen that! Didn't even know it was there!

I have hours of DV tape of my father discussing his life, from an interview I made with him three or four years ago. It's one of my most prized possessions.

Believe it or not, I've also never gone fly fishing, and have no interest in the sport. But I do like enthusiasm and positivity, and my dad has lots of that.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)

cornelius's sensurround dvd was recently nominated for a grammy award ...


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)

What is so special about Maestro?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)

Well, it's really just the beatbox that was included in home organs in the 60s. But when you get one on its own you get a lovely-looking, lovely-sounding machine. It has this china tone, a series of toks and tiks poised beautifully between bossa nova and robotics. It doesn't sound like a drum kit at all, but it can do everything a drum kit does. The punctuation is more precise, electronic yet warm.


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