Thursday, August 31, 2006

VOCODER - Waht Happens Now?

Welcome to the first ever "Thursday Night WTF Vid". With a title like that, you might expect to see a strange video every Thursday. You should only be so lucky.

The video is "Waht Happens Now?" by Vocoder, a Spanish New Wave/Technopop bit of weirdness from 1985. Finding information on this 'so crap it's good' band has been a bit of a challenge but I'll share waht I know with you all. According to sources on the Interwebs, only one EP called "Mindanao/Amor de Robot" was ever released (Neón Danza/DRO ES 1985 12SG). As a bonus, I have included the MP3's from that very release at the bottom of this entry.

The video takes place in Vocoder's local supermarket where they sell Roland SH-101's, TB-303's and of course TR-606's among the groceries. It gets off to a really good start by misspelling the title of the song! I like how the people in the video's background appear to be real customers and look pretty confused. Someone in the video appears to be dealing 'dolphin unfriendly' Tuna to the store's patrons while other people ride down the aisles in shopping carts.

It's awful, it's amazing. It's genuinely catchy and you'll need it for your i-Pod the next time you go
grocery shopping!

Amor de Robot
(Love of Robot)
Waht Happens Now?
Mi Chica Tiene Un Lio Con Satan
(My Girlfriend had an Affair with Satan)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

UA - Uncountable Footsteps of the Night (trans.)

I love UA. Simple as that. I was lucky enough to see her at the same concert festival I saw Polysics. She's one of the first Japanese artists I really got into (that award goes to Chara which I'll save for another entry). My job at the time was pretty light so I had plenty of time to download music and listen in our office. My co-worker told me if I like Chara then I should check out UA. I did and she was right!

I began collecting every UA CD I could find and now have a large collection of her work including Japanese 8cm CD singles. Those 8cm CD's were discontinued around 2000 and I'll say few have withstood the test of time musically as well as hers have. Many a time I found myself wondering the streets of Japan listening to her powerful voice.

UA was born Kaori Murakami, which means both flower and kill in Swahili. She grew up in Osaka. After she graduated from Saga Art College in Kyoto, she began singing at jazz lounge in Osaka. Someone took notice and before long she released her debut CD. Over the twelve years since her debut UA's music has matured from intelligent pop to something more abstract, jazzy and experimental.

The single, Uncountable Footsteps of the Night or Kazoe Tarinai Yoru No Ashioto, in Japanese, was released in 1999 on the album Turbo. It is representative of UA at the height of her popularity. The video is pretty cool too. I'm not a huge fan of hoodies but UA can really work it. I just like how smooth the whole operation is. The music is pretty spot on and really makes me want to know more Japanese.

UA at her worst is Bjork at her best.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

BECK - Hell Yes (One Shot Version)

I have always been a fan of Beck's. I guess I got on the bandwagon about the same time everyone else did with Loser and the Mellow Gold album. But Beck has always managed to impress me with his ability to subvert expectations and create a unique sound with every new release.

I felt that this wasn't so much the case for Beck's latest offering, Guerro. The envelope wasn't pushed quite as far as it had been in the past. I won't go on too much as this is an old album already and you already feel the way you feel about it. I just was hoping for a little more Kenny G and little less Odelay. Yeah, I was hoping for Kenny G.

That is not to say I dislike this album, it's alright... The stylish cover art was done by Marcel Dzama a graduate from my university and the most successful U of M Fine Arts alumni in recent history. Tho I think the crown still has to go out to the members of General Idea (I digress).

Today's video offering is Hell Yes (One Shot Version). It's worth noting that there are at least three different official videos to this song. The first video features a lo-fi 8-bit remix and animation to complinent, which is cool but not groundbreaking for Beck. The second video gets it closer by featuring Sony's now discontinued QRIO robots. I love these little robots and would say that this is easily the best of the two videos but the final video uses the QRIO element in a much more interesting way. It's very minimal (one static shot thruout) and really focuses on the way these guys move. Beck manages to join them for a guitar solo and a verse which really plays with the perspective and scale of the scene. And they are REAL ROBOTS! The video isn't full of flashy CGI sequences, it's full of actual robots that really are doing what you're seeing them do. took programmers three weeks to program their choreography. I dunno how you feel but I never thought I'd see that in my lifetime.

I'm totally sure that this is the least popular of the three videos but it's my favorite an' I ain't no MTV so suck on it.

POLYSICS - I My Me Mine + Electric Surfin' Go Go

Welcome to my blog and my first entry ever. I'm not a particularly good writer so bare with me while I figure out my blogging voice. I recently began looking at all the cool music videos available on YouTube and thought it might be good to start a blog to show them to my friends. I like all kinds of music and I think that over time it will show. What are we waiting for let's get started immediately! (Props to Coolboyman!)

I have been on an unfashionable New Wave kick for the past six months and so I think it might be just as well to not fight my uncontrollable urge and start there. I present to you Japan's Devo, Polysics. I remember the first time I saw one of their albums while browsing in my local video store, Tsutaya, to all you residents and alumni of Japan. They were all wearing matching jump suits and I thought, wow, these guys sure look like Devo! When I checked it out their sound it lived up to that guess.

The funny thing about my encounter with this CD was that I had expected ALL Japanese music to sound like this. All computer synthy and devolved... Sad truth is only a handful of Japanese bands really try to push the envelope in any way. I guess the same can be said about bands the world over.

A few years later I had a chance to see Polysics live in Osaka at the Otodama Festival last year. They were really energitic and loads of fun to watch so if you ever get a chance to see them perform I recommend you do!

The first video features a lot of pronouns and some pretty ill pop and lockin' (I said ill...) from 11 year-old schoolgirl STRONG MACHINE 2 and yes, there is a STRONG MACHINE 1. The website for the um, STRONG MACHINES can be found here. There are two versions of "I My Me Mine", the original is well produced and much slicker than the one featured above but IMAO less cool. The Post-modernist (henceforth PO-MO) in me is a big fan of minimal, static, one take videos. Not high on production perhaps but (hopefully) big on whatever is left. Click here to see the slicker (and also very cool) version at YouTube.

Electric Surfin' Go Go, the second video and latest single, continues where the first video ends off and again features STRONG MACHINE 2 along with the other members of the band. Polysic's DEVO fandom is shown in this video with the lead singer actually sporting the "Bob 1 Devo guitar". Much of the video is beautifully roto-scoped making it fun to watch. I'm not sure the whole live action band verses rotoscoped characters makes a lot of sense but for a song that features a bunch of meowing I shouldn't be too picky.

I picked up the single for Electric Surfin' Go Go at Tower Records and was happily surprised to find out it came with it's own genuine Polysics whoopie cushion! Now THAT's what I call Po-mo!