Have you ever seen a total solar eclipse?
I have not.
To be precise, I could have seen it if I wanted to, but I didn’t.
However, the cosmic scale sun and moon screenings that took place in Amami in 2009, and the drama surrounding them, had a great impact on my life.
Of course, the key is the total solar eclipse.
The term “total solar eclipse” was not even mentioned until I was a student, but from the age of about 18 (around 1993), I started going out to so-called trance parties, mainly in the Roppongi area, and dancing around naked with my bad friends. As I began to absorb various information and experiences on the floor, which was about 30% British, American and Israeli, I heard about it.
It was as if the travelers of the time were planning their lives around the total solar eclipse: “Next there will be a total solar eclipse there, and the one after that will be…”
I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know now, why they were so fascinated by it, but I still felt something interesting about these people who live with an attention to celestial phenomena that is not considered important in the general society. That feeling has not changed.
At the time, my band EVILPOWERSME was on a roll and we were releasing music in the US. At the same time, I also started DJing on a small scale, and started playing at HIGHHOLE in a small building in Udagawacho, Shibuya, with a bunch of delinquents from Koenji and Yoga. The hub of my connections expanded greatly. Among them, the so-called “trance” and “traveler” types were particularly interesting, and since I was the youngest among them at the time at 18 or 19 years old, I was taken very seriously by my older brothers and sisters.
The trance music genre was not something I could get into, as I had been listening to music pretty much in depth since I was 12 years old, but the people who gathered there were interesting beyond compare, and the people I met back then are still very good to me.
My feeling is that people who were delinquents but were tired of getting into trouble in their hometowns flew out to Goa, India, London, etc., and learned how to play from these multinational (though mainly American, European, and Israeli) people. It was like they brought the trance party, which was more or less related to the rave movement that had exploded in the UK since the punk movement, to Japan. One of the most symbolic groups was a crew called EQUINOX.
My personal impression is that raves in Europe are mainly working class, including many Africans and colored people, but raves in India and Goa are a little more, or rather a lot more, white people with a lot of money.
In terms of musical roots, there are many Jamaican immigrants in the UK and it has a strong essence of reggae, and furthermore, it is linked to ecstasy, which was the drug promoted at that time, and developed into the music called “jungle.”
In India, it started with the hippie trend from the days of the Beatles and the Stones. The so-called “Goa Trance” evolved more druggishly as an extension of the New Wave music played by Europeans enjoying resorts in Goa while hanging out with local Indians ( people of Christian descent ). This is a very strong sound with LSD as the drug of choice.
At the time, I had started collecting the British evolutionary rave sound “Jungle” on vinyl and started spinning it in Tokyo without paying any attention to the local information, but I had a lot of so-called gore travelers around me as friends, and it’s interesting now to think about how they organically mixed at our party called RHYTHM FREAKS.
*It is also interesting to note that the word “rave” comes from “raving,” which means a wolf howling at the moon.
Anyway, I think I got the information that a total solar eclipse could be experienced in Amami in 2009 at that time (around 1995).
And skip to the next 14 years lol
In 2006, Brand New Maid, led by Mr. Ishihara, a leading figure of Tokyo’s playful people, offered me to be a DJ for their fourth consecutive party in Amami for the total solar eclipse in 2009.
I was living in Fukuoka at the time, and since Amami is a remote island of Kyushu, I guess my friends in Tokyo saw me as a hub. Anyway, as usual, I went in without doing any preliminary research.
I had already visited Okinawa many times, so this southern island feeling was reminiscent of that, but when I actually visited, something was clearly different…
It’s simply not glow up.
But what is this ” redneck ” thing…?
Yes, there is no smell of the US military here.
In other words, there is no sense of America here.
The reason why I have an impression similar to that of Cuba, which I wrote about in the first article in this column, is because it does not smell like America…
The following is a scene in front of an inn near the venue.
It’s super relaxing.
Below is the path to the party venue.
The “Hachigatsu Odori” (The August dance), which started in the evening, was a wonderful shock.
They used to drink brown sugar shochu three days and three nights in a row and dance all the time!
It was similar to the performance at the Ethiopian Church of the Holy Spirit that I would hear later.
A three-dimensional, or perhaps cosmic, whirlpool of magnificent grooves stirred on the sandy beach!
Each individual seems to disappear and melt away like a tiger in a fairy tale.
It was such an intense experience that I don’t even remember what my DJ was like lol
The next day, the staff took me to various places on the island in their car for a little sightseeing. There was a tropical atmosphere and a distinctly “Japanese” feeling that was different from Okinawa.
The famous chicken rice was pretty good too!
After such a shocking party experience, I stopped by Central Instruments, a record and music store in Naze, the most famous city in Amami.
Founded in 1947.
The founder’s vitality was such that he obtained funds from smuggling brown sugar and clothing, and from there began to record his own music and culture for posterity, making records, setting up store, making instruments and music scores, opening classes, and even building a studio.
It’s probably the oldest independent record store, label, and studio in Japan, or even Asia.
And it’s still going strong today. What an amazing thing.
The photo on the jacket reminded me of my paternal grandfather, and I also bought a CD by Kazuhira Takeshita, which was another miraculous encounter.
Not long after my encounter with this piece, I was able to meet Mr. Takeshita himself and negotiate with the aforementioned president of Central Instruments to release it on CD in 2007 and on 7-inch vinyl in 2008.
Needless to say, it became a very important work for me personally and for the CROSSPOINT label.
Incidentally, this song became a hot topic not only in Japan but also overseas, and was later released under license.
I will describe how I met him and the circumstances surrounding his release in my next column, but the passing of this man in January of this year still affects me to this day.
For the first time in my life, I personally visited him to practice the shamisen with him, not because I wanted to learn shamisen techniques, but because I felt such respect for him as a noble musician that I had to bow down to him, and I wanted to feel his wisdom as much as possible.
The book I bought here contains the legend of Yoshihiko Ibusuki, the founder of the company.
Also, the other book below was great!
These books also show the noble and tough spirit of the Amamians.
Then I checked out the used bookstore, which is a regular thing for me.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but this bookstore had a lot of rare books by Mr. Takashi Hirose that I had been collecting! I happily bought them all at once.
The books are so dense and rather left-wing that I want to go there for a while. The stance is more on the side of the common people and the masses, such as nuclear power plant related issues and pollution issues. Personally, I was super excited.
Then I found this art book at a souvenir shop in the airport.
I didn’t really recognize his paintings or his existence until this moment.
However, the moment I saw the picture at the airport, it struck a chord with me, and I immediately bought it.
On the airplane, I looked at the pictures, read the text, and tears welled up in my eyes.
Mr. Ichimura withdrew from the art world, holed up alone on an unfamiliar island, not even in his hometown, and continued to practice and paint in order to improve his skills, despite extreme poverty.
I imagine the quiet scene until he finally collapsed in his kitchen and was found dead..
I am also involved in the world of art, and in no small way with the industry.
The fiction, the business, the collusion of connections… I still feel a lot of resentment.
Not only in that industry, but also in my own childhood, I have often felt discouraged and angry at this world of money, money, money, money, and mutual deprivation.
The fact that he never depicted human beings, but only plants and birds, shows his deep hatred for human beings, and I deeply sympathize with the fact that he was healed and saved by other natural phenomena, and used them as his subjects out of gratitude.
However, he could not escape the fact that he too was a hateful person, and I guess he tried to fill the gap by painting.
I couldn’t stop crying when I thought of the sorrow and suffering.
The aforementioned Central Musical Instruments and the used bookstore near it also gave me a sense of a somewhat isolated spirit.
Even if it’s just me, I have to do it.
Amami itself, like Okinawa, had the option of accepting the US military base and living between Japan and the US.
However, the residents themselves rejected such a way of life and rejoined the Japanese land by actively campaigning that they were Japanese and wanted to live as Japanese.
This is a bit off topic, but if you look at it from a different perspective, people in other prefectures and regions other than Okinawa and Amami did not have that option (in the restoration of mainland Japan’s sovereignty: editor’s footnote), and did not even claim that they wanted to return to Japan, but simply went through the process of being colonized and then somehow allowed to be autonomous by GHQ (I’m not sure how that really happened).
In other words, they may not have been made to think about who they are as much as the people of Amami.
When I think about it, I feel that this island has its own deep, unique identity and aesthetics.
It may be a bit of a misnomer, but in my mind, there is no place that has a deeper love for Japan than Amami. I still think so.
Kyoto certainly has an old culture, but it is a cosmopolitan cultural city with deep influences from China, Korea, and more specifically, Persia and India, which came from the so-called Silk Road, and cannot be called purely “indigenous”.
What is true “indigenous” in the first place? It exists only in the individual.
In a sense, it may be something that only needs to be considered in a trapped situation.
Even though I was only there for 3-4 days, it had a tremendous impact on me, and I would visit Amami for the next 4 years as a DJ.
Something was already in motion.
On a cosmic, celestial scale…
＜To be continued＞
Born in Tokyo, he started playing in bands and DJing at the same time when he was 15. As a DJ, his innovative and original style has taken the world by storm, and his activities have quickly expanded from huge festivals to underground parties both in Japan and abroad. In 2003, he went on a recording tour with local musicians in Cuba. In 2003, he went on a recording tour with local musicians in Cuba, and since then he has been recording all over the world, and started his own label, Crosspoint, as a new guideline for world music.
In addition to music production, he also produces video works, picture books and art books, and organized the outdoor festival “Jomon and Rebirth” in 2012. In 2017, he released HIGHTIME Inc. with DJ Tasaka, and in 2018, he released ZERO with MACKA-CHIN of NitroMicrophoneUnderground and MaL of PART2 STYLE. In 2018, he also started the unit ZEN RYDAZ with MACKA-CHIN of NitroMicrophoneUnderground and MaL of PART2STYLE.
In the same year, his music under the name of J.A.K.A.M. was released in analog form on the French label HardFist, which led to a live performance at the huge 30,000-person Nuits Sonores Festival, followed by a DJ tour of Europe and Israel. In 2019, the production of MYSTICS, a unit with Marcus Henriksson and Kuniyuki of the internationally popular Minilogue/Son Kite, began, and this year, 2021, the long-awaited album will be released. His original vision is spreading all over the world, crossing all genres.
He has been behind the decks at home and abroad with:
Acid Arab (FR) / Adam Ffreeland (UK) / Alex Patterson (The Orb, UK) Andy Baz (Background Records, Germany) / Asaf Sammuel (islael) / Dego (4Hero, UK) / Fabio (UK) / Francois K (NY) / Fred P(NY) / Foolish Felix (UK) / Grooverider (UK) / I.G.Culture (People, UK) / Jeff Mills (Chicago) / Joe Claussell (NY) Nick the Record (UK) / Moodyman (Detroit) / Panasea (Germany) PHOTEK (UK) / Storm(MetalHeadz, UK) / Suv (Fullcycle, UK) / Q-Bert & Inbisibl Skratch Piklz, Mix Master Mike with D-Styles, Yogafrog and Shortcut (US) / Theo Parrish(Detroit) / Terre Thaemlitz (US/JPN) / Tom Wieland (Vienna) /DJ KRUSH (JP) / Flying Lotus(US)/ / Boredoms (JP) / FAUST (Germany) / Dennis Bovell(UK) / Dillinger Escape Plan (NY) / Juno Reacter (UK) /Lee Perry (Jamaica) / LKJ (UK) / Lake Trout (US) / Mad Proffesor (UK) / Mala (UK) / Marcus Henriksson(SW) / Meat Beat Manifesto (UK) / Merzbow , MMW (US)/ Yakaza Ensemble(Turkey) etc. His style keeps evolving and defies categorization.
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