Here’s a Spotify playlist I made while I was in Japan, of Japanese artists and music that matched my mood at the time. (All the Japanese bands are marked with a J).
Drop- Cornelius (J)
First up Cornelius, from Tokyo. Keigo Oyamada was really big in the late 90s/early 2000s, but seemed to drop under the radar a bit in recent years. Wikipedia has now told me that he has a new album out this year, so I need to give that a listen.
1979- Smashing Pumpkins
I have no shame. I was a big Smashing Pumpkins fan as a teenager, Zero shirt and inadvised bleached fringe and all. I stuck some 90s mix on the hotel tv’s youtube app, and this came up, and I remembered just how fun the video is. (James Iha also has roots in Japan).
(circle)- Boredoms (J) ALL THE DRUMMERS YOU COULD WANT.
Soon- My Bloody Valentine
I don’t think you could do a Japan playlist without any My Bloody Valentine. I never made it to the Tokyo Hyatt bar from the film (it’s an expensive place). However I did get to stay at the Kyoto Hyatt after winning a voucher, and the included breakfast was the best and most comprehensive I’ve ever seen. Please note that I certainly did not smuggle any bags of extra cakes or fruit back to the room for lunch. Didn’t happen.
Farewell- Boris (J)
A playlist of Japanese music wouldn’t be complete without Boris. Here they are at their most relaxing.
Knife Party- Deftones
I’ve been on a Deftones kick lately after having not listened to them for years. White Pony still holds up great 17 years later. One of the few Nu Metal bands with any brains.
Oto- Sakamoto & Fennesz (J)
A collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz, mixing Sakamoto’s piano music, and Fennesz’s ambient sounds. One of the strangest little details about regularly going to work in rural Austria, is that I often go to Fennesz’s home region, Burgenland. It’s the smallest region of Austria (and used to be in Hungary) and they don’t have many famous people aside from Liszt. So they’re unusually proud of Fennesz and you find his records for sale in unexpected places like the Austrian equivalent of WH Smith’s.
Apple- Cibo Mato (J)
Still going strong with or without the membership of Sean Lennon.
Not from Japan at all, from Sweden and in Swedish, but their early 70s kind of sound seemed to fit my mood well crossing Japan by train. Also named after a panda of course.
Sometimes- My Bloody Valentine
Last Target On The Last Day- Melt Banana (J)
Every time I have ever seen Melt Banana live I have come home completely covered in other people’s sweat, but with no regrets.
Astronaut- Beach House
Every time I have seen Beach House live has been a sleepy mid-afternoon time on the second or third day of a festival either in warm weather or indoors relaxing on the floor. I think that sums them up in the same way “other people’s sweat” does for Melt Banana. I listened to this album a lot running along the shore of the Seto Inland Sea by rickety banana yellow local trains much like that in Spirited Away.
Aware- Sakamoto & Fennesz
Ghost Ship In A Storm- Jim O’Rourke
Jim O’Rourke despite being associated with Chicago, now lives in Tokyo. For some reason I always associate his songs with Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes. I guess it’s a similar view of life in their writing.
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