did I unintentionally make it seem like that uzivox track was bland? heh, sorry, I dash off my posts quite quickly, so I never made it clear that I loooove that track and consider it a step above p much all 2002-2005 hardstyle, not a part of it. 🔰thx tho!
Jockie “Masta Bass” Suama SECRET TOKYO BASE
another round of Melancholy Funkot coming up, this time via JMBS’ flip of Anohana's ending theme, a fittingly sappy sakura ballad saved mostly by its beautiful, almost haunting vocal work.
this version takes those vocals and bolts them onto a funkot frame reminiscent of Shisotex’s Cintailah Aku but inverted; instead of endless builds and payoffs and capital-D Drama, SECRET TOKYO BASE is mournful, subtle and filled to the brim with urgency.
every part of this track is urgent. the beat gets straight to the point, the vocals plead, and the dual synthlines weave in and out with the verses like switching lanes. the second melody (example at 1:57 in) is particularly interesting—I’ve heard it across many dance tracks, including plenty of funkot ones, but the way it plays out here gets to me in its purposeful “sloppiness” compared to how I’ve usually heard it (such as at 21:17 in Benny Sahputra’s NONSTOP FUNKOT REMIX 2013); it feels off-time, with the notes clustering and bleeding together, at points feeling like a completely other melody.
it’s weird how affecting it is. the vocals, synths, and everything about this are getting to me like some unearthly earworm. the whole thing is just dripping.
also, unlike a lot of funkot, which in Japan is usually distributed on doujin CDs that become ghosts once they sell out at M3, Comiket, and Guhroovy, and in Indonesia’s case, where tracks are usually only available if you’re in the right social circles (aside from tracks by Indonesian remixers released on Japanese comps)*, this song is available to cop right now. it’s the best 200 yen you could spend today. the dugem rising bandcamp is no longer updated (they’ve moved to iTunes, CDs, etc.), but it’s a trove of amazing 2011-2012 j-kota cuts that you should really explore soon.
*Jet Baron: "DJ equipment is prohibitively expensive in a developing country like Indonesia. Turntabling is not a hobby like in Japan — it’s your livelihood. Releasing a single can be like stealing your own lunch money, but there’s cash in club attendance. If these cuts were available on Internet labels, then the Funkot economy would collapse." both the Dugem Rising and Funkot4everjepang blogs also have articles on the funkot economy in its native country; unfortunately, it’s all in Japanese. However, DJ Ronny has made a good helping of his tracks and mixes available on his bandcamp, which you should definitely give a try.
If you’re a Japanese funkoter and can speak a good amount of English, I’d love to hear your input. Thank you!
uzivox bass and drums (bass mix)
in its early years, hardstyle was mostly just slower gabber, optimized not for former thunderdome punters but for hard house kids who were positioned much closer to the early 2000s european post-trance boom—an era when avowedly hard (okay, relatively) tracks by the likes of rocco and dj dean got music videos and when clubbing (as opposed to present-day EDM’s festivals) was The Thing. basically, it let gabber dudes keep a bit of credibility as they pandered to the inner Clubland in all of us. this didn’t make for particularly interesting music—burping stock hoovers, overall blandness and no texture or atmosphere whatsoever. as such, enter Bass and Drums, the starkest hardstyle track ever, and a clear break from the gabber clones.
somewhere buried in Italy’s backcountry, there’s a nuclear bunker filled to the brim with every old hardstyle 12” ever released, and hiding in this mass of rotting vinyl is this quietly-released number from 2002. it’s rather unassuming; the a-side’s Drums Mix is basically a tr-909 kick loop plus whatever sample pack CDs were on sale the day it was made. the real venom is the flip, however—the Bass Mix is an abject steamroller of a track. booming, over-reverberated short-decay kicks that are probably rolling until the end of the world, spritzed with sharp hi-hat hits. the synth melody is hands-in-the-air-esque, maybe a bit away from a bouncy house anthem, but at the same time it’s oddly un-emotional, like a small squiggle of a synth-line that would be part of some larger hook. the amount of space surrounding this song’s industrial parts make it seem like it’s breathing, in a way more akin to some living, bubbling growth in the back of Berghain, like some Evangelion or Genocyber shit. it’s a pulsating cyberpunk construction, each kick going off like a bomb, bathed in the faint light of strings and that never-ending melody.
play this at 33 RPM and it becomes a stark, endless landscape. utterly beautiful and basically The abject hardstyle™* track. (even the weak Drums Mix is vastly improved when slowed)
*abject hardstyle™ was ari’s idea, and i’m rolling with it. it needs to be a movement. Total Freedom once mentioned having a folder full of hardstyle deep cuts so yeah, TF, you should holler too.
コシミハル (Miharu Koshi) サン・タマンの森で (Santaman no mori de / In the forest of Saint-Amant)
Haruomi Hosono’s mid-80s Yen Records axis was a group of artists making some of the most on-point avant/synth pop on record—Testpattern’s bubbling, deadpan snarking electro, Guernica’s stark, beautiful orchestral bits with Jun Togawa’s nervy vocals, Interior’s empty wallpaper pop (in a very, very good way.). However, almost everyone involved has been mostly forgotten and barely acknowledged in English, with even YMO’s Yen period seeming to be disregarded in favor of their late 70s/early 80s work (which is still great, but I get the feeling it’s because critics love anything they can compare to Kraftwerk, and dislike Scary Melodic New Wave-seeming Musics.)
*coughs* ahem, anyway, here’s an abstract, fluttering ripper from Miharu Koshi, probably my favorite Yen alumnus. There’s plenty of tracks I could’ve chosen by her—Hashire usagi's more straightforward bubbly pop (with a proper worrisome touch) or this album's angular, ethereal vocal-swapping title track. I'm much more biased towards this album cut, though. A tick-tock steady pulse and vocals in lockstep with the rhythm and melody, then breaking into airy proto-breakbeats and orchestration. It's aptly titled—hell, at points it feels almost like a deconstructed Joe Hisaishi track, riding on a weightless, skipping pulse with dripping magical-forest pianos in the background.
QUAD Silent Wind (Edit)
Global Bubblegum Garage Day, part 3.
To be fair, I posted this track on my old tumblr several times, but it’s too perfect for the occasion, innit? Y2K downtown Tokyo luxury ocean liner music that somehow surpasses both (1. most of the stuff Sharpnel and co. have ever made (2. most British 2-step. Bubblegum gare-ij.? Winter gare-ij. Sassy anime closing theme saxaphone riff gare-ij. There’s something mystifying about how comfortable this track is—your Gucci loafers become slippers and your Moschino shirts become a deluxe bunk bed. Snuggle up.
Distant Soundz Time After Time
Global Bubblegum Garage Day, part 2.
Baby Cakes was lowriding, sly and knowing—this is empty, spare and heartbroken. Low-key ATC Around the World vibe hits in the background, slight auto-tune burn, heavily devastated. UKG meets eurodance in the back room of a Night Slugs club night. It’s still bubbly as hell though—snuggly blanket music, absurdly pillowly, devastated but hopeful.
The best thing I’ve found in the endless stacks of a Half-Price Books.
3 of a Kind Baby Cakes
I’m declaring today Global Bubblegum Garage Day.
First up: A song I can’t believe I haven’t heard before???? I need to step up my ukg one-hit-wonder-game, but whatever. Speed this up a lil and you have A.G. Cook circa 2004. Roll up all stealthy and shit, whispery. Fluffy and lushy.
shisotex Cintailah Aku Sepenuh Hati 2013
Talking About Funkot, Part 2 (of one more part maybe i think? maybe not but don’t worry I’ll post other stuff on this tumbl aside from funkot but still funkot is amazing okay? thanks).
on the flipside of things, we go from all-out fun to drama. really fun drama, but like, also, cry-to-this, first-time-i-heard-this(which was just now, actually)-i-played-it-six-times-in-a-row drama. epic cathedral, final fantasy drama. shiso takes a typically goopy indo pop ballad, surrounds it in epic synths, plays the vocals out for just a minute and a half, and lets the melodies and atmospherics take it from there, amplifying the vocals’ effect despite their absence. funkot’s often immediate, but this tune unfurls in a structure more akin to trance, but much more addictive (and not prone to being waaaay too self-serious). this thing is like fifteen thousand stadiums blasting epic, put-your-fucking-hands-in-the-air trance stacked on top of each other, mixed with a few thousand more stadiums blasting thousands of 90s anime soundtracks at the same time. glistening zones with people. that was a hell of a mixed metaphor.
usually funkot makes you just dance, no matter where you are, but i was taken aback by this song’s beauty. it’s staggering. then you start dancing. it’s the new style, get with it.
i should get around to writing a bit more at length about why funkot is so awesome—the problem is, there’s almost nothing about it online in english (one / two / three). DUGEM BAYANGAN DJ Soloist runs a great blog that is full of updates and info on the sound’s Indonesian and Japanese incarnations, its history, its structure and components, as well as issues of taste and the Indonesian funkot economy, but unfortunately it’s all in Japanese, and google translate only does so much. Jockie “Masta Bass” Suama has a blog that touches on the same things, as well as a virtual how-to on making funkot, but it’s also in Japanese. There might be people I could hit up to assist, but we’ll see. Further investigation is necessary. *noir narrator voice*
(it’s also worth noting that funkot needs no justification—no music does, but anything non-western and “odd” is often seen to be in need of justification to make it more palatable to western tastes. but anyway, i’m interested in exploring the history and structure of the sound, and its contexts and the issues surrounding it, not in speaking for its consumers and listeners and “analyzing” it to make it “worthy”. talk over.)
this song is great. i love music.
shisotex 1120 2010 [2013 RE:]
if you’ve followed me on twitter for even the slightest amount of time you probably know how obsessed i am with funkot (neé funky kota)—180-minimum BPM (usually faster) funky-breakbeat-trance-house with fifty thousand things happening at once, first from Indonesia and then exported to Japan and soon to take over the world. it’s hopelessly intense, super-melodic, beautiful and fun as hell.
this track from j-kota god shisotex takes the fun quotient up exponentially. there’s no drama here, just pure joy and absolute weirdness—odd pitch-bent synth melodies, pianos, samples of DMX telling you to get it on the fucking floor, garage-house-esque choruses exposing the gospel of the funky beat, all propelled at three beats per second. an absolute blast, straight to the jugular.
WHOOMP THERE IT IS, MOTHERFUCKER.
(the best funkot drop, ever.)
BURST HEAD LOLLIPOP HONEY SUPER SWEET SNIPER
in which narasaki from COTD does a ton of helium and joins a rabbit junk/macdonald duck eclair cover band. cheap metallic digital breakbeat pop cataclysms. they hit all those wonderful aughties myspace middle school digital hardcore buttons i loved when i was 11, minus the t(w)eenage white boy entitlement and with more melodies.
i think these guys were active around 2004-2010? came across them totally randomly in a five-year-old tokyo damage report live post that was more about their….interesting stage presence than anything. i had to rip this from myspace, turn up. bad moon rising and plastic sky are also super good, but i can’t track down any other songs besides those on said myspace page.