Love Deluxe

We received this generous parcel from SuperDeluxe in Tokyo, which appears to be affiliated to Medama Records in that heaving, futuristic city of the East. Seems that since 2002 SuperDeluxe has evolved into a vibrant multi-media venue, rich with activity in the areas of music, sound art, cinema, theatre, dance, and other practices of delirious creativity. While the space has tended to favour showcasing local Japanese talents, not a few international geniuses are also invited to exhibit their sonic wares – as is now evidenced by three hefty compilation discs, which are what tumbled out of this card envelope marked with the imprecation “*Please look INSIDE!!*” and promising me “Good Music From Tokyo with LOVE!!”. The comps, packed in sturdy card covers with paste-on artworks (like miniature LP sleeves), are themed on different aspects of the abundant noises which the curators wish to draw to our attention. Test Tone Anthology Disc 1 serves up ‘improvisation and stark electronica’. They’re not kidding. 14 sparkling examples of marginal and extreme electronic music from a host of Japanese players who, with the exception of the famed Government Alpha, are completely unknown to me, although there are also some sacrificial offerings from Tim Olive (the Canadian improviser who lives in Osaka) playing with Kelly Churko as Toque; and none other than the austere Zbigniew Karkowski, turning in 5 minutes of insufferable grinding with the help of Christophe Charles. The rest of the show (drawn from the years 2006-2009) is equally compelling, not a cliché anywhere within earshot, and packed with charm, ideas, imagination and craft. Now I’m greatly looking forward to getting my cat-like paws wrapped around the remaining two discs, of which Disc 2 focuses on environmental and field recordings, while the tertiary item gives us ‘an insider’s view of what goes on outside business hours in downtown Tokyo’, concentrating on band performances of avant rock and free jazz. Astonishing and exciting collection which will renew our interest in the flourishing worlds of Japanese music and open up our ears to some of the more obscure and marginal musicians (for too long our perceptions may have been clouded by a surfeit of psychedelic rock, Onkyo, and overshadowing giants like Haino, Merzbow and Otomo). I also see that Cal Lyall, one of the players in the sprawling improv-freaks Tetragrammaton, is involved. I’m only slightly disappointed by the rather unadventurous cover designs, but otherwise these beauts will make an essential addition to your art-music shelf.