I feel duped!- When I first heard about this CD, it was described to me (as written off of Electronico's own press release) as 'international downbeat lounge crossed with a twee brand of j-pop.'- Hmm I thought, ignorant of the source of that description, that sounds interesting.- That's exactly what this group wanted me to think!- Furthermore, when I got my hands on the actual CD, I began to salivate.- This artwork makes Pizzicato 5 packaging look like your local hard rock bands best graphic effort.- It just goes one step more to further my theory that future CDs will not contain actual music on them, but will rather be fifteen bucks worth of cellophane, cardboard, glossy paper, and probably tape, ribbon, magnets, gum, and whatever other packaging components might be appropriate--especially for Japanese bands.-
Music itself is not necessarily cool.- Sometimes, people try to bundle shit up and
throw it in the sidecar in an effort to make the music seem cool.- Which in turn might make them feel cool.- Which in turn might make them feel important
and less insignificant about themselves.-
This is exactly what I am accusing Electronico of, and if they
have any integrity, they should be pissed off about me saying so.
This is something that a lot of people, myself included, are guilty
of to some degree.-- Somewhere inside all of the dizzying spin art
and spyrographics of the psychedelic rain-splat cover art, is a wellspring
of propaganda that if read correctly, will make you feel like you
just listened to the album and that you should actually be thanking
Electronico and the ever so insatiably hip S.H.A.D.O. label for doing
all of the work of formulating an opinion for you.
The lack of any human presence on the packaging demonstrates to me a certain unconfortableness or desire to hide or to appear ïas other.'- Isn't this the appeal of packaging? For instance, isn't this what we love about a box of Rice Krispies?- We don't want the bulk Rice Krispies that actually cost less--we want the rectangular box with Snap, Crackle, and Pop; the cellophane bag; the list of daily allowances; the General Mills proof of purchase„and we certainly wouldn't want to think about how it is actually mass produced!- Or a beautiful woman for that matter.- We want to admire her outfit, her hair, and her make-up.- We don't want to think about what she went through to look like that.- If her real personality were to shine through, it would rain on our perception.-
My personal theory, as I began earlier, is that advertising will take over everything, like suggested in Peter Weir's The Truman Show.- All music, film, literature, and art will be infiltrated.- This is correlative to greed.- What is really interesting though, is that invariably, something else will begin its parasitic feast on advertising once advertising is all there is.- An ideology I suppose.- Perhaps a cult spiritualism.- Something not too far from L. Ron Hubbard, or even J.R. Bob Dobbs!
On the inside cover of this CD is a nifty schpeel about how this is a journey to the center of the musical universe and how you better prepare slip into your best smoking jacket and for prepare warp take-off, or some crap like this.- Composed of course, in perfect deadpan persuasion. -Ha Ha Ha Electronico--this is so incredibly lame!- If you just did what musicians do and play music, people might actually enjoy it.- They might not.- That's a risk you must take.- I would be stupid to take your word for it, wouldn't I?- Or to believe that your liner note was actually written by a disinterested third party?- I should be so critical though.- Are my beloved Stereolab as guilty as this?- Maybe not: it was their movement and they enjoyed the luxury of being on the cusp of it at their every turn.- Still do perhaps.- What about Yo La Tengo's little bit of pap on I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One?„the 'I see a girl on beach bit.'- Isn't that just as preposterous?- Perhaps not as much.- The phony Matador catalogue insert YLT put inside of that CD packaging should be enough to let us know that they were the first to be aware of the inanity of their actions.
It comes as no surprise to me that one of the song titles on this CD, 'Piccioni's
Dishes,' should be such an obvious effort to cash in on the oh-so-hip
cache of Italian cinema (i.e. Antonioni's 'Blow-up') and soundtracks.- Did I mention that the S.H.A.D.O. Label itself
Are we to believe for one minute that there is money to be made in any of this?- Well, maybe.- Although they aren't really an Electronic group, some geek-o-philes might, and I stress might, pirate a copy of this CD on the merit of the artists'name alone.- What about lounge fans?- From the album title, Lounge at the Chimney Pavilion, they might want to at least own a copy of it for the packaging, since I don't think that they actually listen to the shit.- They might have a party and say, queerly, around , as they pinch the stem of their Martini glass against their cardigan, 'I have the most perfect chillout CD!'- Who else might want to get suckered?- We covered fans of Italian cinema and soundtracks.- They will consider this records hipness, and ask the shop's proprietor, has anybody heard this record?'- 'No,' will be the reply, 'but it looks interesting.'- Maybe even some savvy DJ's will read this for an authentic Italian job and pop a copy of it in hopes of scoring some mega-obscure samples from the golden age of sideburns, tweed jackets, and natural-breasted porn.
Who else might buy this CD before it hits the refuse bins?- A question well served by a big ol' handy sticker smacked on the back of this disc.- It reads: 'Fumiyuki Sato and Tomoyuki Kawamori formed Tokyo-based Electronico in summer 200, their name inspired by the Gilberto Gil song 'Cerebro Electronico.' (read: Brazilian jazz).'- It goes on: 'Which is no surprise given the international downbeat lounge vibe they work through their twee brand of J-pop (ok, I can see how this all serves to describe the music, fair enough).- They (why not just admit this is D.I.Y. and say 'we') list among their influences (Warning! Gratuitous and Exploitive Name Dropping Ahead!) Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Nobukazu Takemura (contemporary Japanese electronic artist), Harry Hosono (Japanese ambient/techno pioneer), The High Llamas (The Beach Boys), Peiro Umiliani (Italian Easy Listening Composer), Marcos Velle (obscure Brazilian Pop), John Coltrane (Jazz) and Robert Wyatt (Jazz and Pop fusion).-- A long list, indeed (then why not shorten it„why do you feel the need to qualify it), but clearly discernable in their repertoire (not clearly).'- This is basically a case of trying to associate yourself with as many cool, trendy, and obscure things as possible, and a stretch to cover as much of the world's trendy music as possible.- Sure, I can see how someone could be influenced by all of these musicians because they are all serious artists.- But, it is not clear listening to the music.- It is a marketing technique.- But I wonder, is this music hip because of people like Electronico who make it hip, or is Electronico trying to ally itself with it because it is already hip?- The chicken or the egg?
What comes next is the part that really irritates me.- 'Their style bounds with a cheery yet surreal retro 60s pop feel ¿ playful, light-hearted and just slightly askew' (while all of this might be true, it is not for S.H.A.D.O. Records to say so.- And again, why are they being apologetic?- The songs on this album are not just slightly askew, they're very askew!) It goes on: 'This one's a must for the international indie pop set and Nipponophiles alike!' (Well it's a good thing that they give themselves such a good review.- Now they have compelled the Indie pop 'set' to buy this record.- Meaning scenesters, I'm guessing.- Kids with Beatle haircuts, baggy pants, and two-dimensional personalities.- And, last but not least, Nipponophiles.- So if none of these other music styles appeal to you, but you just love Japan, then go for it!)- This is a brightly wrapped box inside a brightly wrapped box inside a brightly wrapped box, ad infinitum.- What started off as a CD that only a select group of people would probably enjoy has become a CD that should now appeal to about half of the global population!- Not bad.
Now, what about the 'insides' of the CD?- What's inside that last shiny red box?- A clue can be had by reading the small section on the inside of the CD about who Electronico really are.- Fumiyuki Sato, a musician, writes all the music for all the songs, handles all of the production, does all the vocals, the guitars, the keyboards, and does the sampling and drum programming.- There's one talented dude!- Tomoyuki Kawamori, the only other band member, plays bass, and does some sampling and drum programming.- But this is basically a one-man operation.- Hiding inside of all of this bullshit is a really really amazingly talented man.- He hides in the shadows of the giants he feels at he has to list on his own record sleeve.- He hides underneath all of the glossy packaging. Let's face it, what it comes down to it this is just a person.- If he's as talented as I'm saying he is, which I haven't really said yet, but he is, maybe he is a sensitive artist with some hang-ups and I should just cut him a break.- But realistically, the guy at S.H.A.D.O. is never going to use a clip from this review, which has been pretty negative so far, so it's likely that Sato will never see this.- So who cares?-
If Sato is who I think he is, he spends all of his time in a recording studio, either working for other people or himself, honing his remarkable craft.- He has not hipster life of such to speak.- Or I could be wrong!?- He could be drinking Sidecars in a red velvet lounge, wearing a wool beanie and talking to Cornelius about the severe joys of ABBA's ninth album.- Shit, he could be doing so in New York, or Baila for that matter...maybe he is always traveling...collecting records along the way...?
Who could really be so frigging hip?- Who really likes Italian Soundtracks?- And when did Muzak become good music in the
first place??!- Are the Japanese
worse culture vultures than Americans?-
At least Rock & Roll is ours and we know it!-
And we command respect for it, even from The Brits, who still
kiss our asses.- Is there an
original bone in this album?- No.- Not one.- If
you have made it this far, I'll come out and say it.- This album sounds like it was made by scientists
who were trying to create an exact replica of a High Llamas album,
note for note, bleep for bleep, bloop for bloody bloop.- In fact, I'll include some links to a couple
High Llama's reviews, because that's exactly what Electronico and
S.H.A.D.O. obviously want anyway. www.armchair-dj.com/reviews/s/snowbug.asp- http://www.iq451.com/music/high-llamas.htm If I were Sean O'Hagan, I'd be really pissed, or at least
flattered that somebody took the time to analyze my bloops and bleeps
with such ardor.
If I were Sean O'Hagan, I'd be really pissed, or at least
flattered that somebody took the time to analyze my bloops and bleeps
with such ardor.
It's a tough music business these days.- It seems like there aren't many other ways for a small band to get noticed besides piggybacking and benchmarking your way into associations with other bands and artists.- The industry is to blame for this for the oppressive measures it makes to force absolute shit to the top and to categorize everything and everybody.- This doesn't mean that at the essence, a musician isn't free to be musician.-
But what happens when those associations that you drummed-up aren't completely false?- What happens when you say that you are influenced by The High Llamas, when in fact, you sound exactly like them?- It means that you are stupid for saying so, if you ask me.- Maybe some people wouldn't have figured it out.
The music on this CD is really good.- I think that Kano is a force to be reckoned with as a musician primarily.- As a thief and a charlatan, he's caught red handed.- He wins zero points for originality.- Only when Kano pulls his head out of his ass do I think that he could take his God given musical talents, stop trying to be all of these other artists, especially O' Hagen, and make something that might, and I stress might put him in the league with his heroes.