Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Morio Agata - El Jaguar Del Bandoneon (Columbia, 1987)


Released 1.21.87

Technically, "jaguar" should be pronounced with a soft "h" sound. This is not how Morio Agata pronounces it. His jaguar is hard, sharp, jagged, dangerous. With this album, Agata discovered tango, and in it perhaps the ideal medium for the switchblade violence always inherent in his furious, sarcastic vocals and relentlessly propulsive songwriting. One can imagine that, finding folk too laconic, psych too meandering, synthpop too brittle, Agata turned in calm desperation to something more solid with which to express himself in greater clarity. Unlikely as it may at first seem, tango's exquisite blend of complete command and sweeping, cosmic romanticism suits Agata perfectly. At the same time, Agata remains a restless experimenter, introducing strands of synthpop and rock to create a new breed of music, a notable forerunner of today's electrotango, but perhaps still without direct descendants. Conceptually cohesive, it is held together by a constant tension between the turn of the century Euro-American avant-gardism that acts as its model and the more cutting edge, distinctly Japanese electronic sound of the instrumentation and arrangement, similar to Kato's Papa Hemingway or Miharu Koshi's Boy Soprano (Koshi also sings a prelude here).  The record is bristling with appearances from, amongst others, three Moonriders (Shirai, Kashibuchi and Suzuki), Nobuo Nakahara, Takehisa Kosugi, Koji Ueno, and a duet with Akiko Yano.

Lado Pierra (地上篇 / Chijou hen / Above Ground)
A1. La Vuelta Del Barón / 男爵のおかえり / Danshaku no okaeri / Return of the Baron
A2. Para Dos (El Jaguar Del Bandoneon) / バンドネオンの豹 / Bandoneon no hyou (Jagaa) / Jaguar Bandoneon
A3. El Tigre Que Murió En Paris / パリで死んだ虎 / Pari de shinda tora / The Tiger that Died in Paris
A4. Bandoneón Bajo La Luna / SP「月光のタンゴ」 / SP 「Gekkou no tango」 / SP "Moonlight Tango"
A5. Invierno En Buenos Aires / ブエノス・アイレスの冬休み / Buenos Airesu no fuyu yasumi / Buenos Aires Winter Vacation
A6. Amor Humano (Extrano Amor Del Doctor Megata) / 博愛(目賀田博士の異常な愛情) / Haku-ai (Megata hakase no ijou na aijou) / Benevolence (The Strange Love of Doctor Megata)
A7. A Media Luz (Luna Road) / 夢のルナロード / Yumē no luna rōdo / Lunar Road of Dreams
A8. Super Expreso Tango / タンゴ超特急 / Tango chou tokkyū / Super Express Tango
A9. Uno (Triste Bandoneón De Quién) / 誰が悲しみのバンドネオン / Dare ga kanashimi no bandoneon / Whose Sad Bandoneon

Lado Fondo Marino (海底篇 / Kaitei hen / Undersea)
B1. Recuerdo /夜のレクエルド / Yoru no reku-erudo / Nighttime Recuerdo
Suite: La Cruzada Del Fondo Del Mar / 組曲「海底十字軍」/ Kumikyoku「Kaitei juujigun」/ Suite "Underwater Crusades"
B2a. La Cruzada Juvenil / 少年十字軍(星の界)/ Shōnen jūjigun (hoshi no kai) / Juvenile Crusades (World of the Stars)
B2b. Para Dos - En 78 Rpm; Mono / SP「バンドネオンの豹」/ SP「Bandoneon no hyou」 / SP "Jaguar Bandoneon"
B2c. Fondo Del Mar /  海底の豹 / Kaitei no hyou / Jaguar Under the Sea
B3. Pescadores De Las Perlas - Frágil Anhelo / シフィリスの真珠採り / Shifirisu no shinju tori / Pearl Fishers of Syphilis
真珠採りのタンゴ〜シフィリスのもののあわれ / Shinju tori no tango ~ Shifirisu no mono no aware / Pearl-taking Tango ~ Aesthetic of Syphilis
B4. Jardín De Perle-Déco / パール・デコレーションの庭 / Paaru dekorēshon no niwa / Garden of Pearl Decorations
B5. Bandoneón Bajo La Luna / 月光のバンドネオン / Gekkou no bandoneon / Moonlight Bandoneon

Morio Agata


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tanoshii Ongaku - Yappari (Kurichan Record, 1983)

Released 7.83

This 8" EP's title roughly translates to "Just as I Thought". Put the title and band-name together and the cover reads "Just as I Thought, Fun Music". Which is about right. From the mesmerizingly catchy first track through to Owakare Suingu's giggling sayonaras, Tanoshii Ongaku's premiere record startles with a perfect balance of pop and perversity. It's childlike, nonsensical, funny, as well as sneakily affecting. The title track, a lullaby murmured by Agata over intermittently clarified radio static, seems wistful, affectionate, and adult, for all of its faux-naivety. And despite their brevity, home-studio engineering, and simple melodies, each of these songs is densely packed with both synthesized and analogue instrumentation, multiple vocals, and samples that are as unsettling as they are silly.

In addition to regular members Katakuriko and Katô, Morio Agata sings and Yoichiro Yoshikawa (of D-Day and Yapoos) appears on tracks 5 and 9. Comic artist and actor Yoshikazu Ebisu provided the liner manga and the lyrics for Pirania Boy. The cover is by Emiko (Carol) Shimoda. Each copy came with a different (probably repurposed) trading card. Ours was a kaiju.

A1. にっぽん絵葉書模様 / Nippon Ehagaki Moyou / Japan Picture Postcard Design
A2. ピラニア・ボーイ / Pirania Boy / Piranha Boy
A3. 道でばったり動物たち / Michide Battari Doubutsutachi / Suddenly, Animals in the Street
A4. まわるよ / Mawaruyo / Spinning
A5. やっぱり / Yappari / Just as I Thought
B1. お茶の間 / Ochanoma / Living Room ('Ochanoma' is the specific word for a traditional Japanese-style living room, with tatami and zabuton and a low table, etc., almost any of the rooms in Ozu's films. Its literal translation is "place to have tea." So you can make the english title "Living Room" or "Japanese Living Room" or "Tea Room," really.)
B2. プラネタリウム投影機 / Puraneteriamu Toueiki / Planetarium Projector
B3. オール怪獣総進撃 / Ōru Kaijuu Soushingeki / Destroy All Monsters 
B4.いやいやニコニコ / Iya Iya Niko Niko / No No Smile Smile
B5. スピークスペル / Supiiku Superu / Speak Spell
B6. おわかれスイング / Owakare Suingu / Goodbye Swing (or you can call it 'Separation Swing' or 'Parting Swing': in the song the singer is just saying, "well that's the end of Tanoshii Ongaku, thank you for listening, goodbye....")

Panel 1 - THE STORY OF KURI-CHAN THE BIG LIAR by Yoshikazu Ebisu

P2 - "Hey, do you know the difference between fun music and modern music?"
P3 - "Is something wrong Ichiro-kun?"
P4 - ...
P5 - Slap
P6 - Slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap
P7 - "Kuri-chan I don't like you because you're a liar!!"
P8 - Azeeen
P9 - Ichiro-kun, you misunderstood me..." "Pun punContinued...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tanoshii Ongaku

MEMBERS: Katakuriko, Ryosuke Katô

We don't know much about this pair, beyond that they had cool friends; their two known releases feature members of D-Day, Yapoos, Katra Turana, and Morio Agata himself. The result is synth driven childrens' music for brave adults, a more melodic but equally zonked Picky Picnic.

Yappari, (Kurichan Record, 1983)